Tag Archives: Facebook

Giving up your password when looking for a job?

Should your potential employer require you to give up your password to Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Will your comments, background information, age, nationality, pictures be used against you?

What if the employer does not use that information, but still has access to it?  Would that raise a concern that it was in fact used against a job applicant?  Allowing the requirement of social media passwords bring potential liability issues to employers.

Minnesota Lawyer (subscription required) has a very interesting article.   The Minnesota proposed bill, introduced by Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) seeks to ban employers from asking job applicants for their social media passwords as part of the job interview.  It is important to note, as stated by the article, that the bill does not discuss already hired employees and the use of employer laptops, computers, smartphones, etc.

Pending legislation in Minnesota includes H.F. 293, H.F. 611, S.F. 484, and S.F. 596.  All of these bills seek to ban employers fro requiring social network passwords as a condition of employment.

The National Conference of State Legislation reports that there are at least 29 states with introduced or pending legislation seeking to ban employers from requiring/asking for these social media passwords.

Leave a comment

Filed under civil rights, discovery, electronic discovery, Minnesota, Pending Legislation, Privacy Rights

FTC can serve foreign defendants via Facebook

FTC v. PCCARE Inc., 12 civ-7189 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 3, 2013) is a very strange case because it shows how service of process might be altered and in what circumstances.  In this case, the FTC wanted to be able to serve documents other than the Summons and Complaint via Facebook or e-mail.  The Southern District of New York granted this request.

This is a very strange case.  Generally, the Hague Service Convention has guidelines detailing how abroad defendants may be served.  The Hague Service Convention doesn’t expressly authorize service on foreign defendants by email or social media accounts.

So why could you serve documents a foreign defendant over Facebook?

The court explained that “A court in this district has held that the Hague Service Convention only applies to the initial service of process, not subsequent documents.”  See SEC v. Credit Bankcorp., Ltd., 2001 WL 666158, *4 (S.D.N.Y. Feb 14, 2011).  In addition the court relied on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f)(3), whereby it stated,

a Court may fashion means of service on an individual in a foreign county, so long as the ordered means of service (1) is not prohibited by international agreement; and (2) comports with constitutional notions of due process.”  SEC c. Anticevix, 2009 WL 361739, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Fec. 13, 2009).

The court reasoned that federal courts need to keep an open mind about technology.

The court acknowledges that service by Facebook is a relatively novel concept, and that it is conceivable that defendants will not in fact receive notice by this means.  But, as noted, the proposed service by Facebook is intended not as the sole method of service, but instead to backstop the service upon each defendant at his, or its, known email address. And history teaches that, as technology advances and modes of communication progress, courts must be open to considering requests to authorize service via technological means of then-recent vintage, rather than dismissing them out of hand as novel.

via FTC can serve foreign defendants via Facebook, federal judge rules – ABA Journal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Appellate, courts, Judges, legal decision, legal research, rules

NLRB Clarifies Social Media Case Analysis

I mentioned this case before in a prior post.  Nevertheless, it warrants a follow up post dealing specifically with this case: Hispanic United of Buffalo.

In Hispanic United of Buffalo,the NLRB clarified the analysis for Facebook and other social media cases.

The facts are fairly typical for the increasing number of Facebook cases.  One employee had been complaining about the performance of co-workers and informed one of them that she was going to report her criticisms to the boss.  The co-worker posted a message on her Facebook page noting the criticism, saying she had “about had it,” and asking her fellow co-workers how they felt.  Four of them posted a defense of their work on the Facebook page, all while off-duty and on their own computers.  The employer fired all five for bullying the critical employee on Facebook.

All three Board members (Block, Griffin, and Hayes) agreed that the usual analysis for Section 8(a)(1) terminations–Meyers Industries–is applicable.  There wasn’t much discussion on this point, which is not surprising, as there is really nothing special about using social media other than it’s newer and cooler than more traditional forms of communication.  This essentially confirms what the General Counsel and many commentators (including yours truly) has been saying for a while, but it’s obviously a lot more helpful for the Board to make that clear.

via Workplace Prof Blog: NLRB Clarifies Social Media Case Analysis.

Leave a comment

Filed under labor, legal decision, NLRB, Privacy Rights, union

NLRB recent decisions

This is the list of the most recent and significant decisions decided by the NLRB:

Hispanics United of BuffaloThe Board found that the employer unlawfully fired five employees because of their Facebook posts and comments about a coworker who intended to complain to management about their work performance. In its analysis, the Board majority applied settled Board law to the new world of social media, finding that the Facebook conversation was concerted activity and was protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Member Hayes dissented.

Alan Ritchey, Inc. – In a unanimous decision that resolved the last of the two-member cases returned following the 2010 Supreme Court decision in New Process Steel, the Board found that where there is no collectively-bargained grievance-arbitration system in place, employers generally must give the union notice and an opportunity to bargain before imposing discipline such as a discharge or suspension on employees. Member Hayes was recused.

Latino Express In a decision that will affect most cases in which backpay is awarded, the Board decided to require respondents to compensate employees for any extra taxes they have to pay as a result of receiving the backpay in a lump sum. The Board will also require an employer ordered to pay back wages to file with the Social Security Administration a report allocating the back wages to the years in which they were or would have been earned. The Board requested briefs in this case in July 2012. Member Hayes did not participate in the case.

Chicago Mathematics & Science Academy – Rejecting the position of a teachers’ union, the Board found that it had jurisdiction over an Illinois non-profit corporation that operates a public charter school in Chicago. The non-profit was not the sort of government entity exempt from the National Labor Relations Act, the Board majority concluded, and there was no reason for the Board to decline jurisdiction. Member Hayes dissented in part.

United Nurses & Allied Professionals (Kent Hospital) – The Board, with Member Hayes dissenting, addressed several issues involving the rights of nonmember dues objectors under the Supreme Court’s Beck decision. On the main issue, the majority held that, like all other union expenses, lobbying expenses are chargeable to objectors, to the extent that they are germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustment. The Board invited further briefing from interested parties on the how it should define and apply the germaneness standard in the context of lobbying activities.

WKYC-TV, Gannet Co. Applying the general rule against unilateral employer changes in terms and conditions of employment, the Board found that an employer’s obligation to collect union dues under a check-off agreement will continue after the contract expires and before a bargaining impasse occurs or a new contract is reached. Member Hayes dissented.

Leave a comment

Filed under labor, legal decision, NLRB, union

Facebook is collecting your data — 500 terabytes a day

With more than 950 million users, Facebook is collecting a lot of data. Every time you click a notification, visit a page, upload a photo, or check out a friend’s link, you’re generating data for the company to track. Multiply that by 950 million people, who spend on average more than 6.5 hours on the site every month, and you have a lot of information to deal with.

Here are some of the stats the company provided Wednesday to demonstrate just how big Facebook’s data really is:

  • 2.5 billion content items shared per day (status updates + wall posts + photos + videos + comments)
  • 2.7 billion Likes per day
  • 300 million photos uploaded per day
  • 100+ petabytes of disk space in one of FB’s largest Hadoop (HDFS) clusters
  • 105 terabytes of data scanned via Hive, Facebook’s Hadoop query language, every 30 minutes
  • 70,000 queries executed on these databases per day
  • 500+terabytes of new data ingested into the databases every day

“If you aren’t taking advantage of big data, then you don’t have big data, you have just a pile of data,” said Jay Parikh, VP of infrastructure at Facebook on Wednesday. “Everything is interesting to us.”

Parikh said the company is constantly trying to figure out how to better analyze and make sense of the data, including doing extensive A/B testing on all potential updates to the site, and making sure it responds in real time to user input.

“We’re growing fast, but everyone else is growing faster,” he said.

via Facebook is collecting your data — 500 terabytes a day — Data | GigaOM.

2 Comments

Filed under electronic discovery, Privacy Rights

NLRB Issues First Facebook Decision

Karl Knauz Motors, 358 NLRB No. 164 (Sept. 28, 2012), is going to be a lead case in the area of social media simply because it is the first actual decision from the Board. Click here to download  Knauz BMW The Board issued a press release describing the decision. The decision was divided along party lines.

Basically, the Board held that a Facebook posting that caused an employee’s discharge was not unlawful under the NLRA. Another interesting aspect of the case is that it found that a courtsey rule was unlawful as overbroad because it might chill Section 7 activity. With respect to that issue the Board stated:

We find the “Courtesy” rule unlawful because employees would reasonably construe its broad prohibition against “disrespectful” conduct and “language which injures the image or reputation of the Dealership” as encompassing Section 7 activity, such as employees’ protected statements—whether to coworkers, supervisors, managers, or third parties who deal with the Respondent— that object to their working conditions and seek the support of others in improving them. First, there is nothing in the rule, or anywhere else in the employee handbook, that would reasonably suggest to employees that employee communications protected by Section 7 of the Act are excluded from the rule’s broad reach. See generally Costco Wholesale Corp., 358 NLRB No. 106 (2012) (finding unlawful the maintenance of a rule prohibiting statements posted electronically that “damage the Company . . . or damage any person’s reputation”).

Second, an employee reading this rule would reasonably assume that the Respondent would regard statements of protest or criticism as “disrespectful” or “injur[ious] [to] the image or reputation of the Dealership.”

With respect to the discharge, the Board found that the employee was not engaged in protected activity, the Board summarily affirmed

the ALJ who found that the employee was not discharged for protected activity. As the ALJ explained:

Rover accident on his Facebook account was neither protected nor concerted activities, and Counsel for the General Counsel does not appear to argue otherwise. It was posted solely by Becker, apparently as a lark, without any discussion with any other employee of the Respondent, and had no connection to any of the employees’ terms and conditions of employment. It is so obviously unprotected that it is unnecessary to discuss whether the mocking tone of the posting further affects the nature of the posting. It is therefore necessary to determine whether Becker was terminated because of the Event posting, the Land Rover posting, or for both.

via Adjunct Law Prof Blog: NLRB Issues First Facebook Decision.

Leave a comment

Filed under employment, labor, legal decision, NLRB

New Md. Law May Be First in Country Banning Employers From Seeking Workers’ Social Media Passwords

In what could be the first such law in the country, Maryland has enacted a bill that would prohibit employers from demanding personal passwords to social media sites such as Facebook from job applicants and workers.

State lawmakers last week almost unanimously approved making such information private, in response to reports that a growing number of employers are seeking access to individuals’ personal social media accounts to gather information for job-related decision-making, Raycom News Network reports.

The bill will take effect as law after it is signed into law by the state governor, the Gazette reports.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland favored the new measure. The state Chamber of Commerce opposed it.

While no one wants others to read private messages, the chamber had hoped lawmakers would recognize that there may be legitimate reason for employers to review social media sites, said lawyer and employment practitioner Elizabeth Torphy-Donzella of Shawe Rosenthal. Her Baltimore-based law firm represents the chamber.

Similar legislation is being pursued in California and Illinois and in Congress, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The Washington Post’s Capitol Business Blog says Michigan also is considering such a law.

via New Md. Law May Be First in Country Banning Employers From Seeking Workers’ Social Media Passwords – News – ABA Journal.

Leave a comment

Filed under civil rights, employment

Facebook and Job Applicants

Federal law clearly provides that employers must not discriminate against job applicants based on a number of factors, pursuant to Title VII, the ADA and ADAAA. What might employers find when they ask job applicants for their Facebook password?  Potentially sensitive information that could be used in a prohibitive manner when deciding who to hire – such as information regarding disabilities.

The following article was uploaded at EDD Blog:

Friday, Facebook threatened legal action against companies who require applicants provide usernames and passwords so prospective employers can see what applicants and their friends post on social networks. Now, it’s not clear what legal recourse Facebook has if businesses refuse to obey their demands, but shutting down the business’s Fan Page appears likely for violators. This action could cost firms tens of thousands or millions of dollars.

Erin Egan, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer had this to say about employers asking for applicant’s passwords:

“If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends,” Egan wrote. “We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”

Facebook’s stance highlights the changing climate which causes clashes between individual privacy rights and corporate protection. And, without a strong social media policy, firms not only face possible legal action, but lose what is becoming a mandatory marketing channel.

via edd blog online: You Need A Social Media Policy.

Leave a comment

Filed under civil rights, electronic discovery

Facebook, US Senators Say Employers Who Seek Job Applicants’ Passwords Could Be Violating the Law – News – ABA Journal

Citing “a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles,” Facebook’s chief privacy officer warned in a Friday post on the social network’s website that the company could “initiate legal action” against employers who do so.

The comment by Erin Egan suggested that information obtained in this manner could put employers at risk of a discrimination suit, reports Reuters.

Her comment follows news last week that lawmakers in at least two states, Illinois and Maryland, are considering possible legislation to prohibit employers from pressuring job applicants to provide their Facebook passwords. Lawmakers in California and Massachusetts also are mulling such legislation, the Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, the Hill and the Technolog page of msnbc reported Monday that two U.S. senators are asking federal agencies to determine whether employers who act in this manner are violating statutes concerning computer use.

They are Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

The two asked the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether federal laws such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Stored Communications Act are violated by the practice and say they are drafting legislation to make clear that the practice is illegal.

In a written statement, the American Civil Liberties Union earlier called a Maryland Department of Corrections practice of asking applicants to browse through their Facebook accounts in the presence of an interviewer an invasion of privacy, the Reuters article reported.

“You’d be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside,” said attorney Catherine Crump of the ACLU. “It’s equally out of bounds for an employer to go on a fishing expedition through a person’s private social media account.”

via Facebook, US Senators Say Employers Who Seek Job Applicants’ Passwords Could Be Violating the Law – News – ABA Journal.

Leave a comment

Filed under civil rights, employment