The era of Social Media brings with it an array new challenges; and not just for the parents of teenagers. Social Media has also fundamentally changed the dynamic between employer and employee.
Dr. Linda Eagle helped start Edcomm, Inc. (A banking and financial services company) in 1987 and served as the company’s President. In 2008 Dr. Eagle set up a LinkedIn account and gave her password to another employee who helped her maintain and update her profile. In October of 2012, Edcomm was sold, but Dr. Eagle and her partners initially stayed on as employees. Then, in June of 2011 they were all terminated.
After cutting ties with Edcomm, Dr. Eagle found that she could no longer access her LinkedIn account. Edcomm employees had changed her password and even made changes to her account profile. Her name and picture were removed from the profile and replaced with the name and picture of her replacement. However, Dr. Eagle’s honors, awards and connections remained on the page.
Edcomm claimed that they had a policy that when an employee left the company, they (Edcomm) would become the new owners of the employees LinkedIn account. Dr. Eagle filed suit claiming that potential customers and business contacts could no longer obtain her contact information and claimed potential losses upwards of $100,000.
On October 4th of 2012, Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed Dr. Eagle’s claims and granted summary judgment for Edcomm. Judge Buckwalter ruled that Dr. Eagle did not provide enough support for her damage claims, many of which are not compensable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
If anything, this case serves to highlight the need for clear and concise Social Media policies on the part of employers, and the need for awareness and understanding of these policies on the part of employees. Who said the era of Social Media would be free of legal and ethical pitfalls?
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours.
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