Social Media Employment Law

Peeple Are Peeple

People are people so why should it be

You and I should get along so awfully

The English electronic band Depeche Mode sang that more than 32 years ago. Still applies, for some.

Social media has made it easier and quicker for everyone – your employees included – to post their feelings online about anything and everything, with far fewer filters around the virtual water cooler than at the physical water cooler when one is face-to-face with another.  With that reality, comes a new reality: Employers need to be more vigilant than ever when it comes to recognizing and acknowledging the latest social media trends in workplace policies and employee training.

I can’t understand what makes a man

Hate another man, help me understand

Yelp was founded in 2004 to help people find local businesses, and then review those that they use.  Depending on your vantage point, and whether you were the recipient of a good review, that app was either a positive or a negative.  But a recent announcement that there may be a review app coming for individual people changes the game a bit.  The much talked-about potential “Peeple” app is referred to as Yelp for non-businesses. That is, it is an app that, when launched later this year (if at all), will allow people to rate other people. In its current beta phase, there appears to be nothing that anyone can do to avoid being rated.

Is there a positive use for this?  Will people use the app to confirm whether they should be friends with someone, marry someone, hire someone?  Or will this become another opp for an app to create strife and legal exposure?

People are people so why should it be

You and I should get along so awfully

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

No matter how many different vehicles we get to drive our personal opinions into the public domain, the (employment) rules of the road still apply:

            1.         Your company’s harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and violence in the workplace policies – and the employee training that you do – must recognize and acknowledge that inappropriate behavior through apps and other forms of social media is still inappropriate. What is said to and about another employee on an app like Peeple must still be subject to scrutiny.

            2.         Your employees should be told that statements may still be deemed defamatory even when made through apps and other forms of social media (in its current form, it does not appear that “Peeple” users will be allowed to post anonymously).

            3.         With the whole purpose of “Peeple” being to rate individuals, your company should make clear its expectations and policies on providing references for and about former employees of your company, much like the “like” Facebook button and similar capabilities on LinkedIn have increased the likelihood that unsanctioned, and perhaps unintended, references are being given by employees not working in your centralized human resources department.

People are people, and your company needs to constantly stay abreast of what your employees are doing in this new social media era.

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