In Pennsylvania, the former CEO of
Edcomm, Inc. sued in federal court when
her ex-employer took over her LinkedIn
account after firing her and replaced her
name and picture with that of her successor. 26 While employed, the plaintiff/CEO
used her account to promote Edcomm’s
banking education services, as well as to
build and foster personal relationships. 27
The plaintiff alleged that the company’s
actions violated the Computer Fraud and
Abuse Act (“CFAA”), which prohibits
unauthorized access to computers with
intent to defraud, and the Lanham Act,
which prohibits trademark infringement,
trademark dilution and false advertising.
The court ruled that lost business
opportunities were not compensable under
the CFAA, and the allegations did not give
rise to a claim under the Lanham Act.
However, while this case did not come out
in favor of the former CEO, there are certainly instances where an employee could
advance a compelling argument that her
private LinkedIn account—while listing her
company as her
in any way, owned
by or controlled by
attempting to control accounts is definitely a sensitive
area. Even if valuable information
can be learned, 28
checking up on
employees or applicants
could give rise to a slew
of claims. Perhaps recognizing the potential
invasion of privacy or
other concerns that
may arise, six states—
Michigan and New
laws prohibiting an employer from requiring an employee or applicant to hand over
passwords to social media sites, even if only
to take a quick look as to its contents. 29
Six states prohibit
employers from requiring
an employee or applicant
to hand over passwords
to social media sites.
What to Expect Now
There are more and more ways in which
companies can step into a minefield of litigation and negative press. Companies, in-house and outside counsel need to understand the risks with social media and networking, and that even well-intentioned
actions can violate state and federal law.
I anticipate that more legislation will be
introduced to protect employees and applicants from surrendering their social networking passwords and accounts, and there
will be an increase in claims that companies
are interfering with Section 7 rights under
the NLRA by enforcing seemingly neutral
Before a company’s policies and procedures are challenged, it should make sure
they are narrowly drafted and uniformly
applied. You do not want to give a prospective plaintiff something to Tweet about. AZ AT
• The World Wide Web (invented by Tim Berners-Lee at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland – CERN) is released as a publicly available service that operates over the Internet. • The High Performance Computing Act of 1991 (HPCA) is passed. Often referred to as the “Gore Bill,” it was created and introduced by then Senator Albert Gore, Jr., and led to the development of the National Information Infrastructure (NII) and the funding of the National Research and Education Network (NREN). • AOL for DOS was launched. • Cubby, Inc. v. CompuServe, Inc., 776 F. Supp.135 (S.D. N. Y. 1991). Landmark cyberlaw case shielding CompuServe from liability for libelous statements posted on one its forums. The court held that CompuServe was a distributor, not a publisher, because it did not attempt to exercise editorial control over the contents of the information flowing through its network. • Gopher, which provides point-and-click navigation, is created at the University of Minnesota and named after the school mascot. Gopher becomes the most popular interface for several years.
16. 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.
17. States may require a minimum wage
to be paid that is even higher than
the federal minimum wage.
18. DOL, Fact Sheet #22: Hours Worked
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA), Wage and Hour Division
(WHD) (revised July 2008),
compliance/ whdfs22.htm (last
visited Jan. 4, 2013).
20. Rulli v. CB Richard Ellis, Inc., Case
No. 09-C-289, (D. Wis., Sept. 8,
21. Id. at dkt. 116.
22. CareerBuilder, Thirty-Seven Percent
of Companies Use Social Networks to
Research Potential Job
Candidates, According to
New CareerBuilder Survey
(Apr. 18, 2012), www.career-builder.com/share/aboutus/
4%2f18%2f2099 (last visited
Jan. 5, 2013).
23. One alternative some companies use is to hire third parties
to conduct research online,
and the company is provided
with only the pertinent information that can be lawfully
considered in the hiring
24. Bloomberg BNA, EEOC
Lawyer Advises Careful
Navigation of Issues in the
Workplace (Sept. 4, 2012),
visited Jan. 4, 2013).
(E.D. Pa. Oct. 4, 2012).
27. Id. at 2.
28. Jaszczyszyn v. Advantage Health
Physician Network, 2012 U.S.
App. LEXIS 23162 (6th Cir.
Nov. 7, 2012).
29. Suzanne Choney, New State
Law Bans Employers From
Getting Your Facebook Password
(Jan. 1, 2013), ww.nbcnews.com/
word-1C7785092 (last visited
Jan. 6, 2013); see also NCSL,
Employer Access to Social Media
Usernames and Password (as of
Jan. 7, 2013),