FaceBook and the employment relationship continue to be difficult to reconcile. It is hard to know exactly how to (or whether to) review online correspondence and other types of information when considering applicants for positions within the company. Employers also continue to look for ways to control employees’ conduct online as it may relate to the company reputation.
But employers are learning that this area of the law is a slippery slope. While the benefit of insight into applicant and employee communication is appealing, there may be significant liabilities raised should social media or business communications be inappropriately monitored.
For instance, the ACLU is highlighting a situation in which a Maryland Department of Corrections employee was allegedly required to provide his email information and Facebook password to a Department of Corrections official so that his online postings and communications could be reviewed during a recertification interview. The context of a correctional officer may enhance some of the arguments for why monitoring may be appropriate, but employers should recognize groups such as the ACLU utilize situations to create bad publicity and highlight potential infringements on personal rights when they may be in conflict with the employment practices.