Modernworkplaces are dominated by employees who have embraced social mediaas a basic medium of communication. As a result, the social media hasevolved into the “new water coolers” on issues related todiscipline and termination in workplaces. Hammerle et al (2015),argue that employers are faced with several risks when makingcritical human resources decisions such as firing an employee basedon social media activity. Laws and regulations related to the use ofsocial media are constantly evolving. According to the National LaborRelations Acts, employees are adequately protected against employerswho are likely to take disciplinarily actions against them based ontheir activity on the social media. For example, an employee can notbe punished for using social media to protest against poor workingconditions, bad supervisory actions, criticism of the management orcomplaining about derogatory remarks or actions by seniors. Theseactivities are considered to be concerted activities and thereforeprotected by the law. However, there are some activities in thesocial media which are not protected and can be used as grounds fordisciplinarily action, which may include disruption of workplaces,insubordination, abusive language or threats. Therefore, according toHammerle et al (2015), both employer and employees should be carefulabout how they use social media. Employers should be carefulinvestigate a social media incidences before making a decision. Onthe other hand, employees should be very careful and avoid crossingthe line in the use of social media.
Accordingto Drouin et al (2015), the use of social media is motivated by thedesire to “develop or maintain social and romantic relationships,to feel connected to others, to gain information or to gain socialcapital”. However, in the recent past, social media is becoming asignificant human resource tool. Human resources departments areincreasingly using information from the social media in makingdecisions and taking actions against employees. However, manyorganizations do not have well defined policies that govern the useof social media as a basis of human resources decisions. Drouin et al(2015) established that majority of young people do not support theuse of social media information by employers. Additionally, the studyrevealed that majority believe that employees should not be punishedfor their social media activity. The authors do not recognize anycurrent law that guides the use of social media in human resourcesdecisions. However, they propose that public opinions on the use ofsocial media information should be taken into consideration whendeveloping social media policies and laws. Drouin et al (2015) agreewith Hammerle et al (2015) that employees should be careful not tocross the line in social media activities since it has implicationson their characters.
Briceet al (2012), takes a similar view with Hammerle et al (2015) inrelation to the application of the National Labor Relations Act inthe use of social media by employees. However, there is no doubt thatwhen the act was formulated, the use of social media as a basicsocial interaction platform was not anticipated. The most relevantaspect of the act is Section 7, which protects workers engaged inconcerted activities in any social platform. The article is moreanalytical and includes more issues related to confidentialinformation, trade secrets, copyrights and trademarks in relation tosocial media policies. Brice et al (2012) also look at otherprotections offered by the act in relation to the use of social mediaby employees. For example, an employee can not prevent employees fromusing its trademarks or registered names in the social media. Thearticle agrees with other authors that the protection of employees inthe social media in the act is not absolute.
Inconclusion, social media plays an important role in the modernworkplaces. It has evolved into a major platform through which modernsocieties share information. The social media has some implication onhuman resources management. Although majority of organizations do nothave explicit policies in relation to social media, the threearticles argue that employees should not be victimized for sharinginformation on social media.
Brice, R., Fifer, S. &Naron, G. (2012). Social media in the workplace: the NLRB speaks.IntellectualProperty & Technology Law Journal,24(10), 13-16. Drouin,M., O’Connor, K., Schmidt, G. & Miller, D. (2015). Facebookfired: Facebookfired: Legal perspectives and young adults’ opinions on the use ofsocial media in hiring and firing decisions, Computersin Human Behavior,46, 123-128. Hammerle,J., Campobasso, M. & Kienzler, R. (2015). Terminated for a Tweet?A practical guide for employers about social media in the workplace.CUESCredit Union Management Magazine,38(6).