Investigating the Social Media Conduct of an Employee

Illinois business law attorneyAs most business owners know, the actions and inactions of an employee can greatly impact your company’s image. When the action is a positive experience, it reflects well on the company. The exact opposite happens when an employee acts in a way that is considered unacceptable. Unfortunately, if that poor conduct occurs online, the employer may be limited in the actions they can take. Learn more about the investigation of an employee’s social media account, including how to avoid violations under the Stored Communications Act.

Unsavory Social Media Behavior

If your company has an image to protect – be it honesty, integrity, compassion, or top-notch customer service – then you may already have a social media policy in place. Unfortunately, some employees may still break the rules, even with the rules in place. If that happens, you may need evidence from an investigation before you can bring action against the offending employee (i.e. termination, lawsuit, etc.). Without it, you may be at risk for litigation. Yet conducting it can also place your company at risk, especially if you violate the SCA.

The Stored Communications Act

Enacted in 1986, the Stored Communications Act protects the private electronic communications of every American. It states that no one can intentionally access the electronic communications of another person without their consent. Not even law enforcement can access certain information without a search warrant. Employers may be at an even further disadvantage and could even be at risk of criminal charges if they violate the Act.

What Can You Access, and How?

One of the easiest ways to monitor an employee’s social media account is to request that they add you or your company as a contact. Not only does this give you a first-hand account of what they are posting, but it also gives you a way to take screenshots of offending posts. Another strategy is to require that employees provide you with copies of offending posts. You cannot request access to their account, however, and it is advised that you avoid requesting information that may be unrelated to the offending comment.

Obtain Assistance with Your Company’s Needs

Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC understands just how important it is to protect your company. Whether you need assistance with the development of a social media policy, an investigation of an employee, or protection in the face of litigation, we are here for you. Schedule your personalized consultation with our DuPage County business law attorneys to learn more. Call 630-665-2500 today.

Sources:

http://www.insidecounsel.com/2017/06/22/investigating-employees-social-media-activity-3-pe

https://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-1061-unlawful-access-stored-communications-18-usc-2701

 

Electronic Business Contracts – Are They Valid?

Illinois business law attorneysLong gone are the days of doing everything on paper. Pictures and important documents are stored in the cloud. People often connect more with the people on their social media account than their neighbors. Even business contracts are sent and signed digitally. Are digital contracts an effective or legal option for businesses though? Can they stand up in the face of business litigation, or are digital contracts a lawsuit waiting to happen?

Uniform Electronic Transaction Act

In 1999, a total of 47 states adopted the Uniform Electronic Act, which indicates electronic signatures may be considered just as valid and legally binding as a manual one. The state of Illinois did not accept this law, but many digital signatures are considered valid. However, it is important to note that electronic signatures on negotiable instruments are not considered valid in the state of Illinois. Further, there may be additional restrictions placed on the validity of a specific contract or signature.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Contracts

One of the biggest benefits of electronic contracts is that they offer an easy way to send, receive, and store important business and employment contracts. Electronic signatures can also facilitate faster processing of certain documents. However, electronic contracts also have potential disadvantages – some of which are significant.

By far, the most concerning problem of electronic contracts in Illinois is the way they leave room for litigation. This risk is present for many reasons, but the lack of universal standards within the state is one of the most influential. Thankfully, a judge cannot simply deem a signature invalid because it was obtained electronically. Instead, they may consider some of the following aspects:

  • If all elements of a contract were present (offer, consent, acceptance);
  • If both parties entered the contract willfully;
  • The method or manner through which the signature was obtained; and,
  • Any other relevant factors to the case.

Contact Our DuPage County Business Law Attorneys

If you are a business owner who wishes to use electronic contracts in any aspect of your business, it is important that you discuss this desire with an experienced business law attorney. Not only can this prevent a costly mistake, but it can also help ensure your company is compliant in other areas of Illinois business law.

Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC is dedicated to the future of your company. Dedicated and experienced, we can carefully review your current legal processes to determine if there are any issues that may place your company at risk. Schedule your consultation with our DuPage County business law attorneys to learn more. Call 630-665-2500 today.

Sources:

http://www.uniformlaws.org/Act.aspx?title=Electronic%20Transactions%20Act

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=89&ChapterID=2

Essential Elements in a Breach of Contract Case

DuPage County business law attorneysTypically made between two or more consenting parties, companies, or entities, contracts may be used during sales and purchase transactions, and for jobs or services rendered. They may also be used when hiring an employee, freelance worker, or contractor. At their core, they are a legally binding and enforceable promise – but only if all required elements are present. Lack of even just one element can render the contract null and void. Learn more about the essential elements of a contract, and what it takes to enforce one through a breach of contract case, with help from the following information.

What Makes a Contract Valid?

Before there can be a breach of contract, there must first be a valid contract. What, exactly, makes a contract valid? First, there must be an offer, or the intent to enter a contract. Second, there must be an acceptance of the contract’s terms. This acceptance does not have to be in writing, but oral contracts can be difficult to prove. As such, contracts should be written using clear and concise language. The last element of a valid contract is a consideration or the giving and receiving of something of value. One-sided contracts are not typically enforceable, nor are contracts that cover a prior service or transaction.

A Breach of the Contract Terms

If contracts are promises, then breaches are the breaking of that pledge. For example, if an employer fails to deliver results outlined in their contract (perhaps terminating an employee before the agreed upon term of employment has ended), the employee may then have the right to pursue a breach of contract case. However, not all aspects of a contract may be considered legally enforceable. Instead, most breaches of contract cases involve harm to one of the involved parties. Using the example of the terminated employee, damages might include loss of employment and income.

Pursing Damages for a Breach of Contract

Harmed parties in a breach of contract case may pursue damages, for any losses they experienced in the breaking of the contractual promise. Further, they may also request compensation for anticipatory losses, such as the earnings that an employee should have earned during the contract period. Of course, every situation is unique, and the outcome of a case may be primarily impacted by how effective a wronged party is at proving their losses (burden of proof). As such, it is highly recommended that individuals seek legal assistance when pursuing a breach of contract case.

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we have the skills and experience needed to both protect your business from breach of contract lawsuits before they occur, represent you if they do, and ensure other contracts, such as non-competes, are complied with by your employees. Committed to your best interest, our DuPage County business law attorneys can suit all your company’s needs. Schedule your consultation to learn more about how we can guide your company. Call 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/CircuitCourt/CivilJuryInstructions/700.00.pdf