The Intersection of Social Media and the Office: Texting, Tweeting and Your Business


That smart phone on your assistant’s desk is both a blessing and a curse.  Either childcare arrangements can be adjusted with a quick message, or hours of productivity can be lost.  Facebook, Twitter or texting communication is now widely accepted in the workplace, but keeping it in check with uniform policy and enforcement is essential.  Strike a balance between modern communication and your business needs.

Take Action Early

Make company policy on smart phone and social media use clear and uniform. If an employee understands the company expectations during office hours, there is less room for misuse and abuse. Having a clear cut and universal policy also helps to create a homogenous office environment. In other words, an employee is less likely to spend all day texting if expectations are clear.

Be Reasonable

Although making company social media policy clear, it is just as important to be flexible. If an employee occasionally sends a quick text message, it’s not beneficial for you to reprimand them. Creating a harsh work environment creates unhappy employees – which has a much higher productivity cost than an occasional text.

Policy Considerations

Set Clear Expectations : A clear explanation of the purpose and guidelines for your companies social media policy will counter your employee’s resistance.

Coverage of all devices : “Cell phone” is not defined broadly enough.  Your policy should address texting of all types (SMS, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) through the use of phones, and other wireless devices.

Description of who’s covered: As with most other employment policies, your texting rules should apply to all employees, consultants, temporary staff, and other third parties who work either on-site or in the field.  Be sure to include both company owned and personal devices in your policy as well.

List of specific activities: Be specific to your organization’s needs.  Operating a vehicle, including heavy machinery and personal cars and trucks for business-related purposes, should be at the top of your list of strictly forbidden activities.

Practice What You Preach

Although being an employer rather than an employee means you get a bit more leeway with office policy, be the leader your employees can emulate.

A Group of Strippers Walk into a Club…


…and win the first round in a Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) suit! A class of exotic dancers won the right to file a FLSA collective action against the Philadelphia strip club for which they worked. The US District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in Verma v. 3001 Castor that the strippers were mislabeled by The Penthouse Club as independent contractors instead of employees, and thereby have standing in their claims to minimum wage, overtime compensation, and all gratuities earned.

Though strippers aren’t common subjects within fair labor discussions, this isn’t exactly an ‘exotic’ case. After ‘stripping’ away the specifics, it turns out this FLSA dispute is quite common. Employers often try to take on workers as independent contractors instead of employees, believing this distinction will absolve them from associated liabilities and responsibilities.

US District Judge Anita Brody’s ruling of the strippers as employees instead of independent contractors was based on an analysis of the degree of oversight the club maintained over the dancers’ work.

The strippers at The Penthouse received no wages and relied only on compensation from customers. Despite this, the club took a whopping 30-40% of the dancers’ profits and set the price and duration of all private dances. Additionally, the dancers were charged a stage rental fee in order to work a shift, were forced to give a cut of their tips to different members of the club staff, and were charged fines for things like chewing gum, using their cellphones, and not wearing their hair down. Talk about some serious micromanaging!

The club argued that dancers have the flexibility to set their own schedules and if they ‘hustle’, can make nearly $1,600 a shift. Brody dismissed this, pointing out that the club’s control over admission fees, hours of operation, and the dancers’ behavior negatively impacted the strippers’ ability to work.

Brody found that the dancers were an ‘integral’ part of The Penthouse’s business, labeled them as employees rather than independent contractors, and certified the FLSA collective action for the recovery of unpaid wages and liquidated damages.

Small Business Support

If you are a small business without in-house counsel it’s likely you are making legal decisions every day, without proper advice and support. At Bergmann Good, we offer a comprehensive, efficient and affordable solution. We learn your business inside and out so when you need help such as contract review, help with a non-paying client or any other everyday legal issue you encounter, your business has a reliable and singular point of contact to reach out to for answers. Some of the Small Business Support services we provide are:

      • Review of business forms for suggested improvements to increase efficiency and legal protection.
      • Review of operations manual
      • Drafting correspondence with a problematic customer and/or client
      • Contract review
      • Negotiation support

All these services can be provided on a project basis, for a fixed fee, or we can tailor a custom program to best fit both the needs of you and your business.