Employee participation in social media continues to raise the blood pressure of employers across the country. In just the last several weeks, there have been several stories involving employees whose online commentary has their employers up in arms.
One story comes from the New York City Ballet. The WSJ reports that the Ballet will be one of the country’s first major performing arts companies to regulate its employee’s social-media activities. As you may have guessed, the decision to institute a social-media policy did not come from out of the blue. It was, instead, prompted by the comments of an employee.
That employee, Devin Alberda, is a member of the company’s corps de ballet. Alberda is a Twitter fan and has been tweeting snarky comments about the company’s performances, making thinly veiled references to his boss, and posting what many feel should be kept behind the velvet curtain.
According to MyFoxNY.com, the ballet is said to be negotiating a social-media policy with the dancers’ union, the American Guild of Musical Artists. Complicating the negotiations is the fact that the ballet is a public trust, which increases the likelihood that an employee’s comments about it will constitute speech on a matter of public concern.
According to the WSJ, the policy would warn employees that the company may monitor public comments made online. The policy is also said to require employees to include a disclaimer to make clear that their comments are not employer-sanctioned. The proposed policy also would prohibit a dancer from sharing information about another dancer’s injury or illness. Finally, the policy is said to prohibit employees from posting photographs of company events. All three of these provisions are excellent ideas that employers should consider when drafting a social-media policy.