For court employees, Facebook and other social networking sites are often a welcome reprieve from a monotonous day of customer service and paperwork.
But for those who work for the Delaware County Circuit Court in Indiana, that has just changed, as the presiding judges have adopted a social networking policy that all but bans court employees from perusing or using the sites on and off the clock.
Get ready for cranky clerks, Indiana. And maybe a lawsuit.
Under Delaware County Court's social networking policy, court employees:
- Cannot use court equipment or e-mail addresses to access the sites;
- Cannot use their phones to access the Internet during work hours;
- Must refrain from revealing information about judges, co-workers, attorneys, parties before the court, and local law enforcement on social networking sites; and
- Must appear to "maintain a prudent and judicious lifestyle" (no drunk Facebook photos).
The gag order still applies once a person is no longer in the court's employ, though they should feel free to post shocking photos of themselves once they've moved on to a new job.
There's no doubt that court employees' Facebook usage can become a problem, but one has to wonder whether this policy has gone too far.
Confidentiality is key in the judicial system, but the policy also states that employees cannot reveal "any observations made as an employee of the Court," which "includes blogging about working with the Courts."
Shouldn't employees be able to explain what it's like to work for a court? What their job duties entail? What they do and don't enjoy about their jobs?
Ultimately, the ban on Delaware County's court employees' Facebook and social networking use takes away the most basic right of any employee--the ability to complain about one's job.
- Delaware Co. courts limit social networking (Associated Press)
- Control Employee Web Usage: Online Security for Law Firms (FindLaw's Technologist)
- Surfing the Web at Work Makes Employees More Productive, Study Says (FindLaw's Strategist)