Happy New Year – Now Don’t Let The Ball Drop

Ryan Seacrest paid homage again to Dick Clark.  The latest musical crazes performed live from hot spots around the globe.  Miley Cyrus thinks we’re still interested (for those who were at some point).  They all helped us and our family and friends escort out a very fast 2013 last Tuesday night.  Then what?

The same conversations each 12:01 am on January 1st.  People talking weight loss for the new year, being nicer to strangers, exercising with greater frequency.   I spent Tuesday night watching the Waterford Crystal ball drop thinking two things:  First, I’ll deal with weight loss in 2015.  But second, what can I do to improve global awareness of social media and employment law issues?  So to begin that (latter) effort, I offer the following 4 resolutions for your company to consider as we begin 2014:

1.         Resolve that 2014 is not the year that your company gets blindsided by a cyber/data breach.    Target isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, and, more importantly, it’s not just the mammoth companies that run the risk of having their systems hacked.   Start the new year by determining what policies, protocols, insurance strategies, and practices you should adopt now in order to minimize the risk of exposure to your employees and other third parties.   Focus on what you should be doing to prevent a cybersecurity issue, and on what you need to do if one occurs.

2.         Resolve that 2014 is not the year that your company gets hit with the next wave of wage and hour class actions.  Outdated notions of what your obligations are, or even unintentional ignorance of how employee use of technology affects wage and hour issues, can expose your company (and perhaps you personally) to millions of dollars of liability.   Start the new year by determining what you need to do, and what you can force employees to do, to minimize the likelihood that social media and technology can wreak havoc with how you keep track of employee work time, and how you pay your employees.

3.         Resolve that 2014 is the year that your company most effectively protects its valuable trade secrets and proprietary information from even inadvertent disclosures through social media and technology.   Determine the best way to do so.

4.         Resolve that 2014 is the year that you understand why the most popular social media and technology landing spots for your employees may be different than they were in 2013, and how you should appropriately manage what employees can and cannot do, and how your company can and cannot react.

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

Make thinking about these issues a priority for 2014.  Develop a plan to address these issues with your employees.  Address these issues with your employees.   In that order.  For the sake of your company, don’t drop the ball this early this year.

About The Author

Michael C. Schmidt is the vice chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Department, and the office managing partner, vice chair, of the New York Midtown office, where he is resident. For more than two decades, Mike has concentrated his practice on representing companies and management in all facets of employment law, such as: (i) defense in litigation involving wage and hour (overtime and unpaid compensation), discrimination, harassment, retaliation and whistle-blowing, non-competes and trade secrets, and disability and other leave-related issues; (ii) day-to-day counseling and in-house training on issues from hiring to firing, and other questions unique to his client’s industries and business; and (iii) drafting and reviewing employment agreements, termination and severance agreements, confidentiality and non-competes, and employment policies and manuals.

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About Social Media Employment Law Blog
Social Media Employment Law Blog is devoted to the interplay between social media and employment law, an extremely topical and significant area of law for employers in this new technology era. Published and edited by Michael Schmidt, Vice Chair of the Labor & Employment Department, Mike concentrates in representing management in all facets of employment law and has been frequently quoted on employment law topics, and is regularly interviewed by trade publications and national journals for his opinions on legal trends.
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