Judge Shows Why Supervisors Shouldn’t Facebook Friend Employees

Employers often ask me whether they should have a policy prohibiting supervisors from making Facebook friend requests to their direct reports.  My position is that, although an explicit prohibition may not be appropriate (and, depending on your State, may not be legal), at the very least, the risks of such conduct should be explained to supervisors and they should be warned against it.  I think the best way to teach, though, is by example.  Real-life stories about how the discouraged conduct has played out badly for others is often the best motivator.  Here’s a real-life story straight from the headlines and the bad behavior was by a judge, no less, showing that even those with the highest standards and best judgment can (and do) make mistakes in the world of social media.

According to the NY Post, Staten Island Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino will be moved to a Manhattan court as a result of his Facebook activity.  Apparently, some of the lawyers that appear before Judge Sciarrino complained to court officials when the judge sent them friend requests. 

“It’s just inappropriate,” said one insider familiar with the matter. “It puts the lawyer in a very uncomfortable position. If you say no, and then you have to appear before him and ask for bail. And if you say yes, that’s also awkward.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

See also:

Are Employee’s Facebook Posts Protected Activity?
Employee Fired When Her Sex Blog Is Discovered by Her Boss
Friends Without Borders: State Off-Duty Conduct Laws and Facebook-Friending Policies
Social Media Policies: What about my “friends”?

And, for more about social-networking and the law, check out my second blog, Going Paperless Blog, where I talk about judges, lawyers, and Facebook.

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