Adam Childers Talks about Social Media Oops

Journal Record
March 18, 2011

Social media is instant, widespread, and can be shared easily. Once potentially embarrassing material is posted online, it will likely be found someday by an audience the individual never intended. Work and political careers can be injured by an unflattering photo or stupid comment.

The difference between private and professional life is a gray area that is still being defined culturally and legally, said Adam Childers, an attorney with the Crowe & Dunlevy firm in Oklahoma City. More companies are pre-emptively sidestepping potential conflicts by establishing clear policies before a conflict occurs.

“There are circumstances where personal behavior is being taken into consideration for adverse employment actions,” Childers said, “usually something that reflects directly on the employer. Sometimes that’s easy to identify – if someone is dressed in the company outfit doing something embarrassing and that photo is distributed to the public, for example.

“But if it’s an embarrassing photo that’s not widely circulated on a Facebook page and doesn’t directly depict anything to do with the company? That’s where you’re going to see more battles,” he said.

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