Social Media & Workplace Law
15th Jul 2013
Employment contracts are becoming the biggest loophole in workplace law – but that loophole only works for employers.
Companies, with acute knowledge of how employment contracts can operate to their advantage, are increasingly requiring staff to sign one-sided agreements that reduce their legal rights.
These employees – most without any bargaining power, or worse, without an understanding of the law – often do not realize their legal interests are being undermined.
But if the law permits employers to do it, then why would they not try to prevent expensive lawsuits, large severance packages and competition from former employees, all with the stroke of a pen? more
Despite the existence of privacy legislation, privacy-based regulatory bodies, privacy principles and even privacy-based torts (wrongful acts that lead to damages) there is still no clear “right” to privacy for many workers.
This is because most privacy laws are not absolute. They have exceptions and exemptions – or simply don’t apply to the vast majority of employees.
How then does this legal landscape practically affect the rights of Canadian employers and their employees? more
25th Nov 2012
“RIM expects that its employees conduct themselves in a manner reflective of our strong principles and standards of business behaviour.” So read the press statement released by Research In Motion after last week’s news story about two of its (now former) high-flying executives who were fired for excessive drinking on an Air Canada flight. Although the story initially raised eyebrows because the plane was diverted and forced to land due to their conduct, it also poses an interesting workplace law issue because the employees were fired by RIM for their conduct – even though it occurred away from the workplace. more
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I received in 2010 – and the advice I provide for employees in 2011. more
18th Nov 2012
How do you win in court? It starts with selecting the proper lawyer. But with countless factors to consider, finding the ideal lawyer to navigate your case can be an overwhelming task. Here are three cautionary tales that I’ve gleaned from the workplace law trenches. more
Must you turn over your Facebook password to a potential employer? This will be the question faced by Canadian employees as this practice gains popularity in the United States and is taking a foothold here.
For starters, employers have for some time been reviewing potential employees’ Facebook profiles to glean information about their behaviour. No surprise there since pictures do not lie, people do. There is only so much that can be learned during an interview and from personal references that are seldom impartial. However, online profiles often reveal very genuine information about an individual’s behaviour and predispositions, and can be linked to what type of employee they will ultimately become. more
10th Nov 2012
One individual’s story, related below, should make people pause before hiring their next lawyer. Always enquire what percentage of a lawyer’s time is spent practicing in the area he or she is needed for – so that you do not pay for their education. more
8th Oct 2012
Controlling Internet misuse at work was a problem for employers a decade ago. Today, however, it is controlling what employees write and post on their online social media profiles. This is because instead of simply surfing the Web at work, employees now spend much of their time tweeting, surfing Facebook or blogging. And, given the potential for social media content to go viral, negative comments on Twitter, Facebook and blogs can be far more destructive. more
One of my very first clients when I was a rookie lawyer asked me a question that I will never forget: “Can I be fired for what I do when away from work?” He had just been fired, and his employer felt there was a very good reason. He and a group of friends from work had filmed themselves acting out a scene from a Hollywood movie. This in itself was not the problem – it was that they filmed themselves while still dressed in their uniforms from work. When their employer found the video posted online (for everyone to download and see), they were all fired.
At the time, I thought that their employer was surely mistaken, but I quickly learned that employees can be disciplined for what they do when away from work. Employers have the technological means, and often the inclination, to monitor behaviour that occurs away from the job. And when they believe that off-duty behaviour poses a problem to their own interests, employees should not be surprised when it follows them back to their desk. more