HR Management & Compliance

Worksite Privacy from Social Networking to Social Security

Yesterday’s Advisor featured four common-law claims and the first four privacy issues for employers. Today, the rest of the issues, plus an introduction to a comprehensive collection of 350 prewritten policies on CD.

[Go here for issues 1 to 4.]

5. Social Networking Sites

Employees have increasingly been utilizing social networking sites for a variety of uses, both personal and professional. Although these sites can be beneficial, their use can also have risks, such as the following:

  • Discrimination. By viewing candidate profiles, employers may learn more information (e.g., race, disability, age, religion, family/marital status, sexual orientation) than the employer could legally ask about directly.
  • Background check laws. It is unclear whether federal FCRA and some state laws would require consent from an applicant before an employer or third party conducted an Internet search as part of a background check. However, even if not legally required to do so, employers should consider getting consent so that applicants are on notice that the information they post on social networking sites may be reviewed by the employer.
  • Monitoring employee use of social networking sites. There is little case law addressing employers monitoring employees’ social networking posts. However, the few cases in this area suggest that courts will be reluctant to uphold an invasion of privacy claim—whether based on the U.S. Constitution or state common law—when an employee voluntarily posts information on a public site.
  • Right to organize. Another possible concern for employers that monitor employee use of social networking sites is the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which protects employees’ right to engage in a concerted activity regarding terms and conditions of employment.

6. Social Media/Personal Internet Account Privacy

After news media reports that some employers were requiring job applicants and existing employees to provide access to their social media accounts, many state and federal lawmakers have proposed (and several states have passed) legislation to ban this practice.

7. Genetic Information

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or applicants on the basis of genetic information. The law applies to all public employers, private employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, and labor organizations.

BLR’s SmartPolicies gives you 350 HR policies, prewritten for you, ready to customize or use as is. Click Here

8. Medical Information

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) created national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and to give patients more control over their health information.

9. Alcohol and Drug Testing

Many employers maintain drug- and alcohol-free workplaces. Note that state and federal law may limit or regulate the employer’s ability to do drug testing and, if tests are permitted, to maintain the privacy of results in a specified manner.

10. Legal and Recreational Activities Outside the Workplace

As noted earlier, many states have enacted laws protecting employees from adverse employment action based on their lawful conduct outside the workplace.

11. Social Security Numbers (SSNs)

In an effort to thwart the growing tide of identity and credit theft cases, a number of states have passed legislation governing the manner in which employers and other individuals handle SSNs.

Privacy issues—part and parcel of many workplace policies. What’s the status of your privacy policies? And what about all those other policies that you need? Our editors estimate that for most companies, there are 50 or so policies that need regular updating (or maybe need to be written). It’s easy to let policies slide, but you can’t afford to—your policies are your only hope for consistent and compliant management that avoids lawsuits.

Fortunately, BLR’s editors have done most of the work for you in their extraordinary program called SmartPolicies.

Don’t struggle with creating compliant HR policies! We’ve already written them for you, and at less than $1 each. Click Here.

SmartPolicies’ expert authors have already worked through the critical issues on some 100 policy topics and have prewritten the policies for you.

In all, SmartPolicies contains some 350 policies, arranged alphabetically from absenteeism and blogging to cell phone safety, EEO, voice mail, and workers’ compensation. What’s more, the CD format makes these policies easily customizable. Just add your company specifics or use as is.

Just as important, as regulations and court decisions clarify your responsibilities on workplace issues, the policies are updated—or new ones are added—as needed, every quarter, as a standard part of the program.

SmartPolicies is available to HR Daily Advisor subscribers on a 30-day evaluation basis at no cost or risk … even for return postage. If you’d like to have a look at it, let us know, and we’ll be happy to arrange it.

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