Stored Communications Act & Social Media

Here is a recent case where an employer was liable for statutory damages under the Stored Communications Act because the employer took the employees’ personal email account log-in and used it to access their accounts.  They were looking for information about violations of a noncompete clause and they found it in those emails.   The employee counter-sued and won.

How Does this Relate to Social Media Usage by Employees?

What if the employee had set up a Twitter account for their company and used their private (Gmail or Yahoo) email account to register with Twitter and communicate with company vendors, clients and prospective clients privately?  Now say that on other grounds, the employer decides  to terminate the employee. Afterwards, the employee sues for wrongful termination and the employee gets access to the employees log-on information for the private email account attached to the Twitter account and decide to review the email traffic? If the employee finds out, he might have grounds for another cause of action under the Stored Communications Act according to this decision.

What Should an Employer Do?

If you want an employee to promote the company through Twitter make sure that:

  • The employee is instructed to use the employer’s email domain for all social networking profiles
  • That a unique email account is to setup for the employee to use for social media.  That way if an issue arises and that communication must be revealed, it will be much easier for the employer to identify the appropriate email alias for that analysis.
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