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Managing the Impact of New Media on the Employment Relationship | Authors: Susan A. O’Sullivan-Gavin and John H. Shannon

Managing the Impact of New Media on the Employment Relationship | Authors: Susan A. O’Sullivan-Gavin and John H. Shannon

Attention to privacy issues in the workplace has increased over the past two decades as use of electronic mail and text messages has made these means of communication commonplace. Beyond text messages and emails, employees can access the internet at their place of employment at many different entry points. This access can be through company issued desktops or laptops, mobile phones, mobile internet devices (MIDs), Smartphone technology (photography; video and voice recording capabilities; file transfer and storage), off-site internet connections, Wi-Fi access or hot spots. Employees can access and/or post information on various sites including blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, instant messaging (IM’s), e-newsletters, Twitter (micro-blogging), YouTube, Facebook, cloud computing, podcasting, tagging, and Web 2.0 tools. These are all forms of “new media” or the new communication tools that are sweeping the employment world. What information is derived via New Media, what is discoverable and what is the impact on the employment relationship? How does developing case law affect this relationship? Employers and businesses that do not understand the importance and ramifications of these new communication tools may find that they have inadvertently opened the door to litigation and liability, or loss of profit and/or loss of competitive advantage. Companies also increase their risk of exposure to spam, phishing or malware attacks; risk loss of proprietary information, sensitive data and proprietary information. This paper examines how the employment relationship is impacted by “new media” given current social research and developing federal and state case law, including City of Ontario, California v. Quon, O’Connor v. Ortega, and Stengart v. Loving Care Agency.

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