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Facebook could prove our employee lied! How far can we go to gain access?

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Q .One our employees called in sick for a shift during a recent holiday weekend. He told several co-workers that he didn’t come to work because he was having so much fun at his cabin. According to a few co-workers, he made several Facebook posts about his various recreational activities on the day that he was allegedly too sick to work. When confronted, the employee denied telling co-workers he was at his cabin and maintains that he was really sick. Can I ask one of the co-workers to show me the Facebook posts?

A. If you have a social media policy, make sure whatever you do doesn’t violate the policy. Even if your policy permits snooping into the Facebook account, try to obtain the information or confirm the facts without asking co-workers to let you access their Facebook pages.

Although some states have proposed or passed legislation to prohibit “shoulder surfing,” Minnesota has not. Nevertheless, both the absent employee and the co-worker could still assert that reviewing the information was an invasion of privacy.  

A more conservative option: Tell the absent employee that you heard he made several Facebook posts about his recreational activities the day he was allegedly sick. Ask him to explain (and potentially admit to his wrongdoing).

If the absent employee won’t confess to lying, weigh the risk of asking to see the Facebook posts against the risk of proceeding without the information.

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