Schroeder Quoted in Law 360 About How Employers Should Handle Mask-Averse Workers

15 May 2020 Law 360 News

Partner Don Schroeder was quoted in the Law 360 article, “Mask-Averse Workers Add Extra Hurdle As Employers Reopen.” Schroeder said there is no question that some workers will chafe a policies that are likely to be instituted at offices and other public spaces. 

Law 360, pointing to a Texas man who recently made national news when he was fired for his job after refusing to wear a mask at  grocery store and then made threatening social media posts towards the store and its workers, asked Schroeder whether employers should be monitoring employees’ social media for this type of behavior. 

Schroeder told Law 360 that the situation was “an extreme" example of social media behavior that can't be ignored by an employer since it involved threats of violence, most social media complaints by workers, including criticisms of workplace safety policies, likely won't be things that businesses can or should address. "I don't believe that employers should engage in police powers and monitor social media activity across the board of all its employees," Schroeder said. "Then you're almost accepting the responsibility to monitor it across the board. And the line is a little blurry sometimes."

Schroeder noted that low-level gripes on social media platforms are likely in the weeks ahead since people "are not going to be happy about changes in the workplace that they're going to have to deal with" beyond wearing masks, like new rules for getting on elevators or having their shifts staggered to thin out workplaces at any given time.

But ultimately, if workers engage in some social media grumbling to express discontent with new safety precautions, Schroder says the level of attention employers should pay will likely hinge on the "context of what's said, how it's communicated and how much of a reference is made to the employer."

"If somebody is critical of a policy in and of itself, I don't know that that rises to a level of disciplinary action," Schroeder said. "In some respects, it's how much publicity you get and whether or not [a post] reputationally does some damage to the employer. That certainly may factor into whether or not somebody gets disciplined."

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