Tag Archives: Employers

“Ban-the-Box” Update for Employers

By on May 21, 2018

Since 2010, employers in Massachusetts have been prohibited, under the Criminal Offender Record Information (“CORI”) Reform Act, from requiring a job applicant to check a box indicating that he or she has a criminal history (the “ban-the-box” law).  Employers are also prohibited from requiring applicants and employees to disclose certain criminal information, including arrests and criminal cases that did not result in a conviction; first convictions for various misdemeanor offenses; misdemeanor convictions where the date of conviction or release from incarceration occurred five or more years prior to the date of the employment application (in the absence of an intervening conviction); juvenile records; and sealed criminal records.

Under new amendments to the CORI Reform Act signed by Governor Baker on April 13, 2018, and slated to take effect on October 13, 2018, employers may not inquire into misdemeanor convictions where the date of the conviction occurred three or more years from the date of the application (unless there was an intervening conviction).  In addition, employers may not ask applicants about “a criminal record, or anything related to a criminal record, that has been sealed or expunged . . . .”  Finally, employers must include the following statement on any application “which seeks information concerning prior arrests or conviction of the applicant”: “An applicant for employment with a record expunged pursuant to section 100F, section 100G, section 100H or section 100K of chapter 276 of the General Laws may answer ‘no record’ with respect to an inquiry herein relative to prior arrests, criminal court appearances or convictions. An applicant for employment with a record expunged pursuant to section 100F, section 100G, section 100H or section 100K of chapter 276 of the General Laws may answer ‘no record’ to an inquiry herein relative to prior arrests, criminal court appearances, juvenile court appearances, adjudications or convictions.”

Employers are advised to take note of these important changes and revise their applications, and application processes, accordingly.

Social Media Policies

By on April 6, 2015

Social media is a part of everyday life, regularly used by both individuals and businesses. Businesses from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies use social media for advertising and marketing purposes, and many of their employees use social media on their own time. The term “social media” includes communicating information of any sort on the internet, via a website, blog, chat room, or social networking site. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all popular, and many employers maintain an account on each service. With the ability to reach millions of potential customers without any intermediary, particularly when customers can opt in to the receiving the information, the business benefits are real and growing. Given the ubiquity of social media, it is wise for employers to develop a written policy governing its employees’ use of social media. However, employers must be careful, as there are several pitfalls to avoid, coupled with a new and rapidly evolving legal landscape.

Employers may have stand-alone social media policies, or may incorporate their policies into an employee handbook. An effective policy will provide employees with a clear understanding of the employer’s social media expectations. Employers should consider addressing both social media use in the work place and social media use outside of the work place. As with any set of legal policies and procedures, the language should be tailored to reflect the employer’s specific business.

Guidelines for a Social Media Policy

Although a social media policy should be tailored to fit the specific employer, there are general guidelines that any company should consider. With respect to the company’s use of social media generally:

– Explain who is empowered to maintain the social media accounts, including access to account passwords;

– Remind employees that the employer owns both the social media accounts and all social media-related intellectual property posted by the employer;

– Provide internal channels for employees to ask questions and clarify what is permitted;

– Remind employees that every social media post is a public statement directly attributable to the employer.

With respect to the content of the company’s social media updates:

– Prohibit use of discriminating, harassing, or similarly unacceptable language;

– Provide guidance on use of the company name and trademarks;

– Provide guidance on protecting trade secrets and other confidential information;

– Avoid liability for misleading advertising statements or product descriptions;

– Ensure that any statements are honest and accurate;

– Avoid referencing any of the employer’s vendors, suppliers, customers, or other third-parties without receiving express permission to do so from a manager;

– Avoid speaking to the media on behalf of the employer without receiving express permission to do so;

– Avoid violating any state or federal laws.

Employers should also consider whether they already have related policies in place, regarding topics such as harassment, ethics, trade secrets, and confidentiality. If so, it is important that the policies be consistent to ensure that expectations are understood. It should also be made clear that improper use of social media can lead to formal discipline, up to and including termination. Employers should have all employees sign the policy, acknowledging that it was read and any questions were asked. As with any legal policy, it is important that the policy be applied consistently across all employees; few actions lead to lawsuits faster than unequal treatment of similarly situated employees. Employers should contact an attorney for assistance in drafting or updating their social media policy.