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Tuesday, July 24 • 10:15am - 11:45am
I5: Hot Topic: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: An Overview of Social Media Legal Issues and a Deep Dive Into Social Media in the Workplace

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Target Audience: Anyone who wants an overview of the wide range of contexts in which social media law arises (attorney professional conduct, health law, securities law, marketing and adverting, and family law, to name a few), as well as those who want to understand permissible and impermissible social media uses by employees, according to the latest guidance from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), including a  run-down of non-NLRB case law involving social media and employers/employees


Learning Outcomes:

1) Participants will get an overview of the numerous areas of law touched by social media and the thorny issues created for companies, regulators, and courts. 

2) Participants will learn the many ways employees (rank and file, managers, and C-level executives) have used social media with (often) unintended negative consequences, and what employers can do about it. They will learn the factors established by the NLRB that identify (or nullify) a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, based on an employee’s use of social media.


A Twitter-happy chief financial officer is relieved of his duties after too many tweets about company business. The Wall Street Journal writes an article on the CFO and quotes his tweets in the paper. The company’s stock drops. A Michigan medical technician is fired after posting on Facebook that she hoped a “cop killer” she worked on that day “rotted in hell.” 


Social media legal issues come into play in these areas and more: intellectual property (a blogger or employee uses your company logo on a blog—how do you protect your trademark, your brand?), courtroom/litigation issues (can a judge friend a lawyer, can an attorney have a third party “friend” a juror?), family law (use of social media photographs and postings in divorce, child custody cases), securities law (a Facebook entry from a C-level employee posts: “Can’t wait to get back from Bentonville, Ark. tomorrow with the team – fingers crossed that we can pull this off!” Given that Wal-Mart is headquartered in Bentonville, is the C-level employee spilling inside information about an upcoming merger?), health law (can doctors demand that patients sign a release prior to treatment promising not to review the doctor on a site such as Angie’s List?).  


An emerging body of social media law does exist, and a number of federal agencies (FTC, NLRB, SEC, EEOC and perhaps soon the FDA), as well as state attorneys general, are enforcing with increasing gusto. The National Labor Relations Board has adopted a policy that every social media case be referred to Washington, to assure uniformity in the board’s approach to the emerging issue, and says that every NLRB regional office in the country is handling at least one social media-related case. What are the standards when employees post social media messages about work while off duty, on their own computers, in their own homes? How are courts ruling? What can employers do? What should a social media policy say? You’ll learn all this and more in a session on social media, with a special emphasis on social media issues in the workplace.


Tuesday July 24, 2012 10:15am - 11:45am EDT
HCC-Room 311

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