Social media etiquette for businesses

Employers say employment law has become more difficult with social media becoming the normal part of a work environment.

Chad Matmaker explains the rules of business for social media. (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) Employers say employment law has become more difficult with social media becoming the normal part of a work environment.

Kimberley Trimble is a Vice President at Smart Bank in Pigeon Forge and her job is Human Resources officer. She says a seminar on Wednesday was helpful for her to make sure her company is doing everything legally.

"With the evolution of social media, employment law is becoming more complicated, so it's always important to stay abreast of everything that's going on to make sure it's legal," said Trimble. "So we want to make sure they represent themselves well and we take great care in our hiring to make sure we hire associates who are very conscious of that."

Chad Hatmaker was the featured speaker at the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce Lunch and Learn series. Hatmaker says he sees more crossover with social media into the legal system everyday.

"Just today I saw where an employee was harassed because of efforts to organized a union, well that's legal," said Hatmaker. " But the employee was harassed on Facebook."

Hatmaker says the law is clear on what's legal, but in the social media world things can get complicated. His recommendation is for people to watch what they post for the world to see.

"I think they do forget about it. I think that it's one of the appeals of social media it is so private but it is so public," he added. "People use it to express their thoughts at the moment I've just done this, I've just done that. So they believe their having a conversation with friends and they are, but that conversation can have legal complications depending on what's being said."

For employers, he says develop a social media policy and stick to it. He was make sure you base hiring and firing positions off of facts, not what could be considered opinions.

"Verifiable and objective, the easy answers are the criminal convictions or the prior lawsuits, those types of things because the other ones are purely matters of opinion," he added.

Hatmaker says people should never give out their social media password to an employer. He says while it is legal in Tennessee for employers to ask, he says that goes into a whole new world of privacy.

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