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Are employer social media policies going too far?

Yet another employee has suffered termination because of social media use. Last year alone, 42 percent of employers reported taking disciplinary action against employees for social media use. That number nearly doubled from only two years prior, in 2009. Around four out of 10 businesses reported that they view social media use as an issue and have created social media policies that regulate use by employees both in and out of the office.

The latest victim of a social media policy violation is the chief financial officer from Francesca's -- an apparel and accessories retailer with locations in several states.

The CFO has an extensive list of corporate experience, including executive positions at David's Bridal and CVS. He also has become quite the social media aficionado with more than 600 readers of his personal blog, 400 professional connections on Linked In and over 100 friends who view his Facebook profile where he describes himself as "a long-time financial guy."

This social media use was what led to his termination; his employer stating that the CFO "improperly communicated Company info through social media." Although the exact comments were not shared with news sources, it is clear that the comments were enough for the company to seek a new representative for the position.

The National Labor Relations Board claims that many of these social media use policies that limit what employees can and cannot due in the online world may be overly broad. When they prohibit employees from participating in protected activities -- whether the prohibition is direct or indirect -- the policy itself could actually violate the employees' rights.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "When social media gets you fired: Francesca's CFO is out," Tiffany Hsu, May 14, 2012

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