Molly DiBianca, an employment lawyer, recently relayed a story on her firm’s blog about a legal issue prompted by an “unfriending” on Facebook.
Some time ago, an employee asked her supervisor to friend her. The supervisor accepted the request. Now they were Facebook friends.
Everything was great, until the employee filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission citing discrimination.
The supervisor, afraid to inadvertently read a post related to the charge, removed the employee as a Facebook friend. DiBianca said that was a good idea. However, the employee added a charge of retaliation to the discrimination charge.
A vicious cycle
Employment-related lawsuits are up as a result of the economy. Social media is still relatively new. It takes a while for the law to catch up to technology.
It’s a vicious cycle – A lawsuit is filed. A company wastes resources defending itself. Profits aren’t what they expected. So they don’t hire. So fewer people have money to spend. So profits are even lower. And on and on it goes. So, we can only conclude that:
Facebook is killing our economy!
Or could social media help our economy?
We have a friend who heads up the Visual Merchandising Department in a store that’s part of a large chain. He told us recently about his firm’s social media policy for its employees.
Among other things, supervisors can’t “friend” subordinates. Our friend said, though, that the document was so long and so full of fine print, he decided to not even mess with it.
It’s a missed opportunity. Competition for dollars is fierce. Many areas of the country are still struggling.
We shop at our friend’s store. We always enjoy seeing the displays he puts together. He’s incredibly creative. We’d love to see photos of his displays online. It might tip us off to something we might buy.
For years, retailers have used their windows to draw attention to their merchandise and get people to come into their store. Now a store can have “windows” online, in numerous locations.
Is it unreasonable to expect these “windows” to drive traffic to their stores?
But our creative friend isn’t willing to risk his job over something as silly as Facebook. And who can blame him?
Setting the mood for growth
Companies need to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Sure, they need to clothe themselves in protection. But they also need to tip their hat to new opportunities to get a mannequin-leg up on the competition.
Even more importantly, our legal system needs to set the mood by protecting new technology while insuring that individual rights aren’t trampled on. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s necessary to keep the spotlight on jobs and growth.
What advice do you have for businesses trying to balance the risks and rewards inherent with social media?
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(Image in today's post from plex)