While in some states employers are able to establish company policies that limit what employees can post about employers, New York’s laws protect the employee’s privacy rights.
First of all, New York State law prohibits you from asking employees for the username or password to their social media accounts. It also prohibits accessing these accounts through other electronic means, which protects employees’ privacy regarding these accounts. The New York State Privacy Protection and Internet Safety Act determines when and how online personal and private information can be destroyed and establishes responsibilities and enforcement.
In general, you can’t discipline an employee for something posted about your company on the internet unless you can prove that the post resulted in damages.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has general policies in place advising employers not to establish rules that prevent employees from discussing wages or working conditions with each other. However, if an employee is critical of the company and complaints are not in relation to group activities among employees, then the employee is probably liable. Situations vary depending on the facts involved.
If you’re concerned that an employee is posting opinions on Facebook or some other social media outlet that is damaging your company’s reputation or resulting in lost income, consult with one of our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates
As an employer, you may wonder where to draw the lines as far as monitoring employees’ phone calls at work. Certainly for quality control purposes, it makes sense to monitor calls with customers or clients. But how do laws limit what you can do?
If the call is made while in California and all parties are in California at the time, then CA state law requires you to inform parties when conversations are being recorded. Let’s say as a NY employer, you send a team of sales people to attend a conference in California. You would need to inform them that you’re monitoring calls based on CA state law.
According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, federal law under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act allows companies to monitor business-related calls without informing about monitoring.
What about personal calls? This is where federal case laws places limitations. Based on the outcome of Watkins v. L.M. Berry & Co., if you know the employee is on a personal call, you must quit monitoring the call immediately. However, there is an exception. If you told your employees not to make personal calls from certain business phones, then employees making calls from those phones are at the risk of being monitored.
At Stephen Hans & Associates, our attorneys routinely consult with business owners to help put company policies in place so they are in compliance with state and federal laws. Relying on trusted legal guidance is simply part of doing business in today’s world.