What’s Not in Your Social Media Policy—But Really Should Be

Social media platforms can be an invaluable tool to build a brand and drive business. But without a clear policy in place, your company risks at best embarrassment and at worst legal action against it should an employee engage in illegal activity.

Management and human resource professionals may not be aware of everything that should be covered by a social media policy, given how fast things are moving. While new platforms are being created all the time and are constantly morphing, there are a few evergreen guidelines you should be emphasizing in your social media policy.

Evergreen Guidelines:

Remind employees about the line between personal and professional.
The majority of the workforce has grown up with social media of one kind or another, and has used it for just that: social purposes. Whether they like it or not, however, their personal public posts can have an impact on their careers, particularly if they list your company name in a personal profile. Employees must remember they are brand ambassadors in any public context and behave with professionalism.

If it’s confidential, it doesn’t belong online.
It should go without saying that any proprietary information needs to remain internal, but you can’t depend on common sense to rule the day. Be explicit in your policy, and you can avoid losing business because of employee indiscretion online. Likewise, a company should encourage employee complaints or conflicts to be properly addressed away from an online audience that includes customers, partners or competitors.

Training is key.
In addition to a clear policy, employees should understand the terms of use for all the social media platforms in which they are engaging. If one of your employees violates the site’s terms of use, conditions and/or limitations, this violation affects not only the employee but may limit your company’s ability to use the site in the future. Profanity, cyber bullying and posting any offensive material all fall into this category.

Syntrio’s Social Media Ethics course provides employees at all levels an overview of social media, guidelines on using time and resources wisely, and concrete examples of conflicts of interest and offensive posts. It’s a great way to efficiently start a conversation about an increasingly important aspect of ethical behavior in the workplace.


Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content
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Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


 

Retaliation Claims are on the Rise: How to Avoid Them

As reporting on suspected wrongdoing reaches historic highs, 2017 saw a 100 percent increase in retaliation claims. The 2018 Global Business Ethics Survey uncovered this shocking statistic. Driving the higher numbers are social and demographic trends, along with expanded employment laws at the state and federal levels that provide expanded protection of employees against retaliation.

The onus to prevent it, under U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations, is squarely upon the employer, making it illegal to fire, demote, harass or otherwise retaliate for these reasons against either job applicants or employees. Retaliation can be stealthy and difficult to catch, so employers must be diligent and methodical in efforts to prevent it.

There are several critical elements to doing so:

Ensure a robust policy and documentation process is in place.
Policies must be highly defined and regularly communicated to everyone in the organization. And the moment human resources or any member of management hears of a complaint, they must document every single detail—everything contained in the complaint, every action taken by the company, and every conversation had with other employees.

Maintain confidentiality while investigating and resolving a complaint.
The more members of the organization who are brought into the discussion, the more likely it becomes that someone will make a comment or take an action that could be construed as retaliation. Limit the players to those immediately involved, and stress strict confidentiality to each.

Work with both sides of the complaint.
Emotions run very high when misconduct is reported. When an employee files a complaint, take it seriously and with discretion, treat them with respect, and let them know the organization will not abide retaliatory behavior. At the same time, realize the employee against whom the complaint is filed will probably be quite upset and defensive. Remind him or her of what constitutes retaliation and its potential consequences for the company.

Training is imperative.
In recent years, legal developments have significantly broadened the scope of anti-retaliation protection and lowered the burden for establishing unlawful behavior. This has given rise to the spike in retaliation claims and has made them much more difficult to defend. It is critical to educate managers and supervisors.

Syntrio’s 45-minute course, Preventing Unlawful Retaliation, discusses the protections afforded to employees under various employment laws. Using scenarios and case studies, the course discusses the types of work-related activities that are protected by law, the types of behavior that can lead to a charge, and the risks of failing to take steps to prevent unlawful retaliation in the workplace.

 

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


 

Five Ways to Prevent Workplace Violence

As Workplace Violence Prevention Month draws to a close, all employers should be thinking about ongoing efforts to understand what workplace violence looks like, how to recognize and diffuse potentially violent situations, and how to prevent them in the first place

Every year, 1 in 4 full-time American workers become victims of workplace violence, but it can be prevented with a considered approach.

A critical first step is a zero tolerance policy for this behavior against or by anyone associated with your place of work. This means employees at all levels of the organization, as well as contractors, clients and customers, and visitors.

To be able to recognize workplace violence hazards, communicate OSHA’s definition of “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.”

It’s also extremely important for employees to have an avenue to report incidents. Management must encourage workers to communicate openly with them and report any concerns without fear of retaliation.

Establishing an emergency response plan for events such as a violent intruder or a disgruntled former employee is also a sensible step, provided it is communicated well and regularly. Where possible, reach out to local law enforcement to help with staging mock crisis exercises.

Finally, there is no substitute for regular training. Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid tragic and costly incidents associated with violent acts in the workplace.

Our Preventing Workplace Violence course covers the following:

  • Types of workplace violence
  • Risk factors for violence
  • Behaviors and physical warning signs of potentially violent individuals
  • Violence prevention policies and procedures that help reduce the incidence of workplace violence
  • Steps to protect you and others in situations of an active shooter
  • How to respond appropriately to threatening or violent situations

We can custom tailor our courses to fit the specific needs of your business.

 

 

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


 

Building an Ethical Culture: the Basics

Even within the same industry, organizations can have radically different cultures. There are norms, both tacit and explicit, that address how colleagues interact, how management communicates with employees, and how customers are treated. In terms of ethics, some companies pay lip service to ethical behavior, while others walk the walk.

For long-term success and to attract the best talent, those with a truly ethical culture are the winners.

So how can organizations build a resilient yet flexible culture that values ethics throughout its ranks? First, it’s important to establish and communicate what behaviors are constructive and to be encouraged, and which others undermine an ethical mission. Companies that take the time to ask all employees what specifically works and what is clearly unethical within their respective roles can develop a clear set of guidelines that can be communicated across numerous channels.

The tone at the top also matters a great deal. Employees follow the lead not just of their immediate managers, but look to senior leadership for cues on how to behave. If a CEO demonstrates unimpeachable integrity in all she says—and more importantly, what she does—that can go a long way in shaping what happens at all levels of the organization.

While it’s a simple truth that reinforcing behavior that is desirable and refraining from reinforcing that which is not, many commercial pressures can work against it. Organizations must be mindful, intentional and articulate about which behaviors they wish to encourage and which they do not. Incentives can range from monetary rewards to accolades and recognition. The important thing is to be clear and consistent in providing thoughtful and corrective feedback that is rooted not in punishment but in education.

If people are going to behave ethically, they need to be given the tools to do so. Having a leader focused exclusively (or almost exclusively) on ethics provides a point person within the organization.

Equally important is appropriate training. Syntrio’s online courses are designed to address the most pressing and broadly applicable business ethics and HR compliance training issues. Each customizable course provides practical guidance on employment laws and other legal and ethical concerns that may arise in the workplace. For a full list of our training options, click here.

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


 

Silencing the Lambs: Weighing the Legal Cost of Confidentiality Requirements During Harassment Investigations

 

Recently we have been fielding questions from clients concerned with protecting their reputation in the midst of a harassment investigation. Specifically, when a company receives a complaint of workplace harassment they often want the matter to be kept as quiet as possible, so as to avoid the rash of bad publicity caused by the ubiquitous news reporting on the subject of sexual harassment. While this approach is understandable, especially in light of the fact that 68% of EEOC charges in fiscal 2017 were dismissed with a finding of “no reasonable cause,” you must keep in mind that there are currently prohibitions in place that prevent employers from doing so legally.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) prevents employers from chilling employee rights to discuss wages, hours, and working conditions among one another. While the NLRA is mostly thought of as applying to unionized workplaces, this is actually a misnomer, as it governs employee rights in both organized and non-union settings alike. Indeed, the very issue of employer confidentiality requirements was analyzed in the Board’s 2015 decision in Banner Health System, 362 NLRB No. 137 (June 26, 2015). In that case, the Board held that it was a violation of the NLRA to require an employee who is subject of an internal investigation to refrain from discussing the investigation publicly except where the employer has a “legitimate business justification” for doing so.

Before you react dismissively to the aforementioned exception given the logical conclusion that saving company reputation until the results of the investigation are complete is obviously legitimate, keep in mind that Banner provided a specific list of conditions that it found were legitimate. Those conditions included: (1) witnesses needing protection; (2) evidence in danger of being destroyed; (3) testimony in danger of being fabricated; or (4) the need to prevent a cover-up.

While it was assumed (correctly) that a shift to a Republican President of the United States would relax burdens on employers that were put in place during the Obama administration, the Board analyzed this issue yet again on February 2, 2018 in Costco Wholesale Corp, Case 05-CA-169958 (February 2, 2018) and reaffirmed the Banner decision, again holding that Costco violated the NLRA when it directed an employee to refrain from discussing the ongoing investigation.

The takeaway from Banner and Costco is employers need to be very careful when making decisions that seem logical due to the far-reaching implications of the NLRA. Many HR professionals and even employment lawyers often interpret how heavy the influence of traditional labor law is on many of the issues we are facing with respect to harassment and discrimination today. For this reason we recommend you conduct training for your managers and even upper management to ensure that you are complying with the NLRA when conducting investigations and handing down employee discipline.

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. 



Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus, and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio