Social media poses interesting legal questions in the workplace


Social media looms larger in our lives every year.

Belmont County employees and department heads learned the do’s and don’t’s of the law when it comes to things that are posted online.

Can a prospective employer creep on Facebook, perhaps send a friend request, to check out someone who has applied for a job?

Can they turn down an applicant based on what someone said about them online?

Can they discipline an employee who’s off on medical leave but was seen at an amusement park on Snapchat?

They learned what’s allowed and what’s not, under the law.

“For instance, things can be posted that maybe you intend one way but can be construed another way,” said J.P. Dutton, county commissioner. “That’s obviously important in terms of the county. Sometimes it’s a county employee saying something just as a personal comment but sometimes how you depict yourself on social media it could then look as though the county is making that statement or you’re representing the county. Those are the kinds of things you need to be cautious of.”

Another example was an employee who had been acting strangely and making concerning remarks.

Is it OK to long onto his computer after hours to check his personal emails and Facebook account?

The answer was no, that would be illegal.

On the other hand, employees should not post comments or displays that are vulgur, obscene, threatening, intimidating or harassing.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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