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Case Illustrates Need to Update Campus, Workplace Social Media Policies

Social media has become an integral component of our everyday lives, and has exponentially increased our ability to communicate and connect with others, and market our goods and services.  However, the use of social media is not without risks.  Social media posts are more frequently being used to support causes of action in legal claims.

For example, in Yeasin v. Univ. of Kansas (Kan. App. 2d 939, 360 P.3d 423 2015) a University of Kansas student, Yeasin, posted several sexually harassing tweets on his account.  None of this conduct by Yeasin had occurred on campus or at a University-sponsored or -supervised event.  Because the University Student Code only allowed for discipline actions for conduct that occurred on campus or at University events, the court held that the University had no authority to expel Yeasin.  The University’s ability to take to action against the student was limited in this instance by the University’s policies.

However, this case supports that utilizing social media in a manner and context used in this instance can potentially impose serious repercussions and liabilities for the user.  Furthermore, academic institutions may look to this case in drafting policies or amending conduct codes to better address this type of concern and protect students from on-campus harassment that relates to off-campus actions.

As students return to school and academic institutions resume activities, all should be mindful of the impact and use of social media.

Social media is also frequently utilized as a tool in labor and employment claims, personal injury claims and family law matters.  Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn is a full-service law firm.  We provide legal services in most areas of law, regularly addressing the varied legal needs of businesses, educational institutions, individuals, municipalities, non-profit organizations, and other professionals.  For more information about this topic, please contact KDDK attorney Monica Edwards at medwards@KDDK.com or (812) 423-3183.

About the Author

Monica Edwards

Monica E. Edwards, a Partner at Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, LLP, in Evansville, Indiana, is a member of the KDDK business, environmental, intellectual property, and real estate law practice teams. Monica’s intellectual property experience includes the registration, assignment and renewal of trademarks and copyrights. She is also frequently involved with the licensing and defense of intellectual property and the negotiation of confidentiality agreements on clients’ behalf.

Monica draws upon her scientific experience as a technical services chemist and prior environmental consultant in her practice of environmental law. Her background helps her assist clients in performing environmental due diligence, negotiating environmental settlement agreements, coordinating site clean-ups, prosecuting historical environmental insurance claims, and recovering environmental defense and indemnity costs.

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