Does Your Business Own Its Social Media Accounts?

When an employee creates and maintains a social media account on behalf of his/her employer, what happens to the account(s) when the employee is terminated or resigns?

The world is closely watching a federal case in the Northern District of California where a mobile news and reviews resource company, Phonedog, is suing a former employee Noah Kravitz (or independent contractor, depending on what news report you read) over who owns a Twitter account that was started in association with PhoneDog, and is now being used by Kravitz as his own Twitter account. The issues drawing so much attention include who owns a social media account – the employee who posts on it, or the employer on whose behalf the employee was posting. The other issue is what value, if any, can be placed on Twitter followers (or, by analogy Facebook likes), when social media attracts people who are portable and not “owned” by the social media account.

The crux of the lawsuit is that Kravitz was paid as a product reviewer and video blogger for PhoneDog from April 2006 through October 2010, and that this position included posting tweets on a Twitter account called @PhoneDog_Noah. After Kravitz left PhoneDog, he changed the name of the account to @noahkravitz, and kept its followers instead of relinquishing the account and its followers over to PhoneDog as was requested of him.

Michelle Sherman, Esq.  at JDSupra.com gives the following advice to employers:

In general, companies should to the greatest extent possible register social media accounts in their own names or through a senior marketing person and/or social media manager if the account needs to be in the name of a person. Further, on social media accounts such as Facebook pages, where you can have more than one administrator, companies should take advantage of this option and have several administrators. Having several administrators, and asserting control over the account, is another way to demonstrate “ownership” of the account, and also avoid some of the problems experienced by PhoneDog.

Read the full article by Michelle Sherman, Esq.

If you are an employer with questions about issues regarding your employees, past and present, the Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can refer you to competent, licensed and insured attorneys who specifically represent employers. Call 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.

Can I Be Fired While On Maternity Leave in NH?

According to the NH Commission for Human Rights, you cannot be fired or laid off while on maternity leave if it’s related to your temporary disability; however, you may be fired or laid off from a general and legitimate lay-off for performance requirements.

What else does the Commission say about the rights of pregnant employees?

1. Is a pregnant woman entitled to maternity leave?

Yes, an employer must grant a female employee leave for the period of time she is physically disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

2. Is there a set period of time for maternity leave?

No, there is no set period of time for maternity leave. It is based on the period she is disabled as determined by a physician, usually the employee’s personal doctor.

3. Is the employee entitled to full pay while on maternity leave?

The general rule is that pregnancy must be treated in the same manner that the employer treats other temporary physical disabilities. Therefore, if the employer continues to pay other temporarily disabled employees, it must pay pregnant women. If the employer requires use of vacation and/or sick leave for temporary disabilities, then it may require the same for pregnancy.

4. Is the employee entitled to her job back after she recovers from childbirth?

When the employee is physically able to return to work, her original job or a comparable position must be made available to her by the employer unless business necessity makes this impossible or unreasonable.

5. If the position is filled by another employee while the original employee is on maternity leave and the employer prefers the temporary replacement, can the employer refuse to provide the original job for the returning employee?

No, any change in position for the returning employee must be made for reasons of business necessity. An employer’s preference for one employee over the other cannot be a factor in this decision.

6. Can an employee be laid off or fired while pregnant or on maternity leave?

No, an employee cannot be laid off or fired while pregnant or on leave for reasons related to her temporary disability. However, an employee while pregnant or on maternity leave is not immune from a general and legitimate lay off of employees for performance requirements.

To find out more about rights for pregnant employees, go to the NH Commission for Human Rights.

If you believe you have been discriminated against by your employer because of your age, sex, sexual orientation, race,  physical or mental disability,  religion or pregnancy status, contact the Lawyer Referral Service.  LRS can refer you to competent attorneys who specifically handle discrimination matters in New Hampshire.  Call 603-229-0002 or request an online referral.

2010 NH Workplace Deaths Lowest in the US

As reported by Kathleen Callahan, in the NH Business Review, December 16th, 2011: 

“New Hampshire had the fewest number of workplace deaths in the country in 2010, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.”

“Five people — all men — died on the job in New Hampshire last year, which was the fewest number of workplace fatalities in the Granite State since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tabulating them in 1992.”

“That’s one fewer than the six who died on the job the previous year, and is down significantly from the 23 recorded in both 1997 and 1998 — the state’s highest years on record since 1992.”

To read the entire article, go to http://www.nhbr.com/businessnewsstatenews/943442-257/n.h.-workplace-deaths-lowest-in-u.s.-in.html

If you have been injured on the job, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation.  LRS can refer you to competent attorneys who specifically handle Workers’ Compensation matters.  Call LRS today at (603) 229-0002 or request an online referral.

 

How to Start a Business in New Hampshire

“The New Hampshire Business Resource Center and the International Trade Resource Center offer resources to enhance the economic activities of the state through business attraction outreach, in-state business expansion efforts, and facilitation of government and international sales.”

For more information and links to many resources such as Business Assistance Programs, Emergency Management Tools, and Energy Efficiency Programs, go to the NH Business Resource Center  at  www.nheconomy.com/business-services/start-a-business-in-nh/.

Whether starting a small home-based business or a corporation, your business must comply with state laws and regulations. There may be licensing and permit requirements to consider, or zoning and environmental regulations. If you plan to hire employees you also need to be aware of federal and state labor laws regarding benefits and wages, and discrimination.

The Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to an attorney who can assist you in starting your business, from sole propietorships to corporations and franchises. For more information call 603-229-0002 or fill out the Lawyer Referral Request Form at

https://www.newhampshirelawyerreferral.com/contact-us