Tuesday, January 24, 2012

If employees had common sense, I’d be out of a job

Last Thursday, I participated in the Social Workplace Twitter Chat (#SWchat), which covered social media policies. In response to a question on whether employers need social media policies, or if they can leave employees to their own devices, I responded as follows:  

– and –

In other words, if employees had common sense, I (and every other employment lawyer) would be out of a job.

Case in point: long-time Philadelphia TV weatherman (and notorious playa) John Bolaris, who lost his job last week because of an interview he gave to Playboy magazine discussing a debaucherous night in Miami that resulted in the Russian mob (of all things) drugging him and scamming him out of $43,712.25. Here’s my favorite quote from the Playboy interview (courtesy of Gawker):

He saw two women on a swing. Very elegant, beautiful, classy, with jet-black hair and blue eyes… They were smoking cigarettes in that exotic European manner… “I’m a guy,” Bolaris says. “There was the thought that I might get laid.” It never dawned on him to be suspicious about two gorgeous, elegant women all over him like a wet suit, he says, because “I was used to girls in Philly coming on to me aggressively once they found out I was John Bolaris, the TV weatherman.”

Needless to say, his employer was less than pleased by his very public discussions of his escapades.

As long as employees continue to engage in public discussions about what should be private matters, the role of employers in monitoring and regulating their employees’ online activities will continue to be a very active part of the discussion. And, as long as employees lack the common sense to keep these matters private, yes, you need a social media policy to direct their behaviors and expectations.

Maybe Warren Zevon said it best (and maybe John Bolaris should have heeded his advice):

I went home with the waitress
The way I always do
How was I to know
She was with the
Russians, too?