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Managing Employee Social Media Use: Legal Do’s and Don’ts

In the past decade, social media has become an ever-present part of most of our lives. Today there are more choices for expressing one’s thoughts online than ever before. Whether we are talking about legacy services like Facebook, Instagram, X, or one of the more recent startups like BlueSky or TikTok, the constant stream of information and ideas has created new challenges for Nevada businesses and employees alike. Among them is how employers can–and cannot–regulate the social media usage of their employees.

Here at Ace Law Group, our Las Vegas employment attorneys have advised many people on how to best manage social media usage in the workplace. The reality is that the rules are not as cut-and-dry as you might think. A lot of it comes down to common sense. But there are also certain regulatory constraints that businesses and employees need to understand.

DO Have a Social Media Policy

Every Nevada employer should have a social media policy for their employees. This is not about controlling or dictating employee speech. Rather, it is about protecting the business from potential liability for employee speech. Such a policy should be carefully reviewed by a qualified attorney and may be incorporated into an overall employee handbook.

Some basic components of an employer’s social media policy can include:

  • defining what constitutes “social media”;
  • restricting the use of business computers and devices to access personal social media accounts;
  • directing employees whether or not to disclose their employment, and if so, to include a disclaimer on the personal profiles that any opinions expressed are their own and not that of the employer;
  • how employees should handle discussing any sensitive or confidential information related to the business;
  • a reminder that any posts including threats, bullying, or discriminatory remarks directed at co-workers may violate federal and state anti-discrimination laws; and
  • the consequences of violating the social media policy.

DON’T Use a Social Media Policy to Violate Employee Rights

Some Nevada businesses may attempt to enforce a broad-based social media policy intended to prohibit any discussions of business-related matters by employees online. Such attempts are likely to run afoul of the National Labor Relations Act, which protects “concerted” activities by employees relative to working conditions. For example, an employer cannot ban employees from complaining about their compensation or working conditions online. This can be construed as a potential NLRA violation and either the government or the affected workers may take legal action against the employer.

DO Encourage Safe Social Media Use

While experienced social media users should know this, it does not hurt for an employer to remind their employees to practice basic “data hygiene” when using any online service. This includes:

  • using strong passwords, and not using the same password on more than one social media account;
  • using a reputable password manager to help manage multiple accounts;
  • using two-factor authentication (2FA) when available to add a layer of protection for social media accounts;
  • making proper use of a social media service’s blocking and reporting features to address instances of harassment, trolling, and
  • never disclosing their social media passwords or credentials to anyone.

DON’T Demand Access to an Employee’s Personal Social Media Accounts

Nevada law–specifically NRS 613.135–forbids any employer from demanding the username or password to the personal social media account of any employee or job applicant. This includes making any direct or indirect suggestion that an employee is required to provide such information. Nor can an employer retaliate–fire, threaten, demote, et al.–against an employee or job applicant who refuses to disclose such personal information.

That said, the law does allow an employer to require an employee to disclose the login credentials for any other account or service used to access the company’s internal computer systems.

DO Be Transparent When It Comes to Monitoring Social Media Use

There is nothing illegal about an employer monitoring any publicly available social media posts made by employees. Employers should be transparent, however, when doing this. Ideally, such monitoring should be disclosed in the employer’s social media policy.

DON’T Force Employees to Friend or Follow You

Employers must exercise caution when trying to access an employee’s non-public social media posts. While it is not necessarily illegal for an employer to “follow” or “friend” an employee on social media, such actions can be construed as an attempt to coerce or force the employee into sharing their posts with the employer. In turn, this may run afoul of the National Labor Relations Act or Nevada’s employee social media law.

Speak with a Las Vegas Employment Attorney Today

If your employer has violated your rights concerning social media use or any other aspect of the employment relationship, and you are considering taking legal action, you should speak with our qualified Las Vegas employment law attorneys as soon as possible. Call Ace Law Group today at (702) 333-4223 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.