Greenwich Chamber of Comerce
PWC New York 40 Years

Managing Union Contracts and Employers Rights

There are many laws designed to protect the rights of employees in the workplace. What are the laws that protect employers? Below is a list of employers’ rights

Employment at Will

NYS employers can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, provided the reason is not discriminatory in nature, or violative of a collective bargaining agreement.* This is called Employment at Will.

* Collective bargaining is a process of negotiation between employers and an organized group of employees, aimed at regulating working conditions benefits and other aspects of workers’ rights, above and beyond the rights provided under the laws. Cba set out wages, working hours, training, health and safety, overtime, grievance, among many other categories of work.

What are categories that are protected under which an employer may not base a decision to hire/fire/discipline: race, gender, age, disability and other protected categories.

What if an employee walks off the job, quits, or abandons his/her job without giving notice? What are the employers’ rights at this point? If an employee walks off the job without giving notice, the employer can designate that employee as not eligible for re-hire in the future. This can have a negative impact on the employee’s future job opportunities as well as his/her potential to obtain unemployment insurance.

Define Scope of Work and Job Roles

Employers have the right to decide what if any educational requirements are necessary for any particular job. Employer’s also have the exclusive ability to determine an employee’s eligibility based on experience and education, provided the decision to hire or not is not discriminatory in nature.

Establish Policies and Procedures

Employers have the right to establish policies and procedures in the workplace, provided those policies and procedures don’t violate state or federal laws, are not in contravention to any existing collective bargaining agreement and etc…

Requiring Overtime

Employers may require overtime, but must adhere to local, federal laws and comply with any overtime rules according to existing collective bargaining agreements.

Monitoring Use of Office Computers, Cell Phones and Social Media

Employees have limited privacy rights in the workplace, particularly when the office space and equipment are provided by the employer. This means employers have the right to monitor employees’ use of it.

In most states, employers can monitor their employees’ phone conversations (even record them in some states), text messaging, and computer usage. Employers can restrict access to social media and other non-work-related sites.

Employers can also search for file cabinets, desks, and offices being used by the employee in the workplace. Before implementing any monitoring activities, employers should know this is a sensitive area of law.

Monitoring Employee Use of Social Media in Violation of Company Policy

Employers can monitor their employees’ activities on company premises at any time and can establish a company policy on employees’ posts on social media.

It is not unfounded for employers to be concerned that employees who post inappropriate or offensive statements or information on social media reflect poorly on the company. Because of this, employers can monitor employees’ public postings. If an employer finds a posting that violates the company policy, the employer can take action.

Employers can discipline or terminate employees for postings that violate the employer’s policies about social media posts under the doctrine of Employment at Will. .This is an evolving and everchanging area of workplace law. The limits are on employers’ rights to restrict employees’ speech on social media when the employees are not on duty are unclear. In a dispute, the employer will need to be able to show that the employee’s postings violated the employer’s policies and caused harm or risk of harm to the employer

Employers have rights to monitor employee’s social media in order to protect the reputation of the company:

Here are a few examples of misguided employees who posted inappropriate content on social media, which reflected poorly on the company and were let go:

Justine Sacco, the infamous pr executive in 2013, as she was boarding her flight to south Africa, Sacco tweeted: “going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Sacco only had 170 followers, but her tweet was soon trending worldwide. While Sacco was on the long flight to South Africa, the Twittersphere soon realized they were watching the destruction of her career, in real time. She landed to a slew of texts and emails, among them a note from her manager informing her she’d been fired.

In 2016, a disgruntled Yelp employee posted about her low pay on Medium. This wasn’t just any post though; it was a very public open letter to the CEO of yelp. As a customer service rep living in San Francisco, she claimed her pay was so low that she couldn’t afford to pay for groceries, had stopped using her heater, was balancing all sorts of debt, and spent 80% of her income to pay for rent in san Francisco. Her post got the attention of Jeremy Stoppelman, then CEO of Yelp, who acknowledged the truthful statements about San Francisco being an expensive city to live in, the employee was let go shortly thereafter.

A University professor, Nikolaos Balaskas posted what was believed to be anti-Semitic posts on Facebook, including links to websites like jewwatch.com. At the time, he was working as a laboratory technologist in the department of physics and astronomy. A Jewish advocacy organization at the school found the posts and brought them to the university’s attention.

Balaskas was issued a warning, and before the university had a chance to ask him to remove the posts, Facebook blocked and deleted them. Balaskas had a different viewpoint, however, believing he had a responsibility to “promote and bring awareness of historical circumstances” to his followers. He reposted the deleted posts and was fired shortly after.

University student Connie Levitsky decided to take a part-time job at a plus sized clothing company. Levitsky thought she was being supportive of her clientele when she took to Facebook to say: “conquering the world, one well-dressed fat lady at a time.”

Levitsky’s manager didn’t have the same definition of altruism, and Levitsky was fired immediately.

Kate Nash was handling the social media accounts for Frederick County public schools when a storm hit. One student tweeted at the school “@fcpsmaryland close school tammarow please.” Seeing this as an educational opportunity, Nash tweeted back “but then how would you learn to spell ‘tomorrow’? .” Katie was asked to delete the post, apologize to the student, and was let go shortly after.

When she posted an Instagram photo after her team landed a new client, one young professional learned the importance of keeping company news a secret, no matter how exciting it might be. (The Financial Diet)

These bankers somehow didn’t get the memo: Pretending to be a deadly terrorist group is just plain stupid (not to mention, wildly insensitive). (The Huffington Post)

A former high school teacher publicly tweeted about her partying lifestyle and drug possession. Easy lesson learned: Keep your personal life offline. (The Daily Dot)

Many employers conduct social media background checks on potential new hires for this very reason.

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