Social Media Employment Law

From “Eat Pray Love” To “Eat Shop Sleep”

In 2010, we watched Julia Roberts search the world to find herself in “Eat Pray Love.”   If only she had the latest app to help her find law-compliant places to visit along the way.   What would she have found out about your company?

As an employer, it has always been important to consider how employees believe you treat them.   However, it is also important to note how the consuming public believes that you treat your employees, since your company goes nowhere without those who use your services or products.   Add that capability to the list of currently-available “apps” from our federal government.

News reports from recent months have described the aggressive campaign and initiatives of the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) aimed at targeting certain industries’ compliance with wage and hour laws.    The DOL has just issued a press release that describes its latest initiative, this time focused on certain “common violations” that occur in the restaurant industry, such as the failure to pay for hours worked, an employer’s “off the clock” requirements, the misclassification of employees as “exempt” for overtime purposes, and illegal deductions made for uniforms and lost/spoiled inventory.

Social media has a place at this dinner table too.   Introducing, the latest smartphone app:   “Eat Shop Sleep”, which can also be found among the DOL’s “application contest winners” on its home page.   As the DOL’s press release touts:

“Consumers, employees and other members of the public can use the app to learn if a restaurant, hotel or retail establishment has been investigated by the [DOL] and whether [wage and hour] violations were found.  Businesses will have a greater incentive to comply with the law now that their compliance track records are publicly available.”

Employer Take Away:   What should you as an employer take away from this development?   

Whether it is requiring that your company post notices of employee rights, or facilitating the use of apps for employees and the public to see whether your company is violating employment laws, the government (through social media) is making sure the smarter workforce that exists in 2012 stays that way.

But even if you don’t own or operate a restaurant, there is no rhyme or reason to where (or when) the DOL might randomly target another company or industry.  You (and your industry) can be next.   Comply with employment laws because you want to minimize your economic and non-economic exposure, because you want your employees and customers to know that your company complies with the law, and because it is simply the right thing to do.   And doing so will also allow you to eat, shop and sleep with peace of mind.

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