It’s a fact: social media makes it easy to say what’s on your mind, but that doesn’t mean you should. Now you might not say something quite as disturbing as Utah’s Attorney General on Twitter, but what you say you could be damaging to your career and finances. Even just interacting with people you “shouldn’t” interact with can backfire on you.
That’s what happened to Brelyn Hammernik, who is being accused of violating non-compete agreements by her former employer, Minnesota-based TEKsystems — an IT staffing company — because of her “conduct” on the professional social network LinkedIn. What did Hammernik do? She “communicated” with numerous contract employees from her former employer, via LinkedIn.
That’s scary for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s normal to communicate with former colleagues. Secondly, it’s normal for recruiters to “persuade” previous colleagues to shift allegiance. I’m not saying it’s right, just that it’s normal. But unless Hammernik was actually poaching, why is it a problem to interact with former colleagues? Unfortunately, TEKSystems is claiming that Hammernik actually solicited both their contract employees and clients via LinkedIn, and they acquired communications as proof. As a result, the company now has a lawsuit against both her and her current employer, amongst others.
Just keep this in mind: any company with a knowledgeable sys admin can easily capture all Web communications, copies of email, even phone calls. In fact, a publicly-traded company must do this because of SEC regulations. But even private companies do this. If you use social media, remember that, whether you’re communicating with employees of either a former employer or a current employer.