Joseph Greenwald & Laake attorney Jason Sarfati spoke to IPWatchdog for an article about the need for social media policies and regulations in the workplace. As social media becomes more valuable to businesses, problems are arising relating to intellectual property of account and content ownership. In the article, Jason said that it is necessary for employers to recognize that each social media site represents its own unique threats and opportunities.
“It is important for employers to spell out in a social media policy which websites can or should be accessed while at work, as the value of accessing these sites becomes a dangerous guessing game that individual employees are ill-equipped to handle,” Jason said.
Jason also spoke about social media monitoring. He said that it is important that employers in the public sector notify their employees that they are being monitored, because otherwise, it could constitute a “warrantless government search.” This could expose the employer to a Fourth Amendment liability.
Finally, Jason said that companies should consider monitoring employees who have recently left, in order to review whether or not they are misappropriating trade secrets with their new employer.
“If a third-party is injured due to an employee’s misuse of social media, it is possible that the employer can be subject to a lawsuit. While there are some legal defenses available to an employer, these defenses are only useful once a lawsuit has been initiated,” Sarfati said. “They do not prevent a lawsuit from being initiated in the first place.”
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Jason Sarfati is an attorney in the firm’s Labor & Employment and Civil Litigation practice groups. He represents both employers and employees throughout Maryland, the D.C. metro area and Virginia, and is also heavily involved in the firm’s False Claims Act practice.