Trending Towards Service of Process via Facebook!

This post was also written by Lisa Kim.

Just a few weeks ago Legal Bytes updated its reporting (which has been going on since 2009) noting that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Fortunato v. Chase Bank USA (S. D.N.Y June 7, 2012) declined to permit a plaintiff to effect service of process on a defendant via Facebook (see, Service of Process by Facebook? Not Just Yet!). However, it seems that legislators and courts alike are opening up to the idea of allowing service through social media where it would be reasonably likely for the defendant to receive actual notice. In the fast-paced world of digital technology and social media, the courts are indeed moving just a wee bit faster (do they have a choice?).

Last month, Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, introduced a Texas bill (H.B. 1989) that would allow courts to approve the use of substituted service of process through a social media website. Specifically, this law would allow the court to prescribe substituted service through a social media website if: “(1) the defendant maintains a social media page on that website; (2) the profile on the social media page is the profile of the defendant; (3) the defendant regularly accesses the social media page account; and (4) the defendant could reasonably be expected to receive actual notice if the electronic communication were sent to the defendant’s account.”

Similarly, last week, in FTC v. PCCare247 Inc., S.D.N.Y, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) permission to effect service of process (although not the summons and complaint) via Facebook and email upon five defendants based in India.

In the PCCare247 case, the FTC alleged that the defendants operated a scheme, largely out of call centers located in India, that tricked American consumers into spending money to fix non-existent problems with their computers. FTC served the defendants through the Indian Central Authority as required by the Hague Convention and also sent the summons and complaint to the defendants via email, Federal Express, and personal service via a process server. Although the Indian Central Authority (after more than five months) still had not responded to the FTC confirming that defendants had been served, the defendants received notice through the process server.

The request for service of process via Facebook and email came into play later when the FTC requested permission to serve additional documents on the defendants. The court granted the motion, holding that service via email and Facebook are not prohibited by the Convention or any other known international agreement. In addition, the court held that service via email and Facebook comports with due process as the FTC demonstrated the likelihood service via email and/or Facebook would reach the defendants. The court cited the fact that email addresses for service were used for various tasks in the alleged scheme to defraud consumers and defendants had used some of the emails to email the court.

The common thread between the Texas Bill and PCCare247 appears to be the high likelihood that service through these electronic means would give actual notice to the defendant. Indeed, in distinguishing Fortunato, the PCCare247 court specifically noted the FTC provided the court with “ample reason for confidence that the Facebook accounts identified are actually operated by defendants.” The Facebook accounts had been registered with email addresses known to be the email addresses of the defendants; the defendants listed their job titles at the defendant company as professional activities on their Facebook accounts and two of the defendants were shown to be “friends” with a third defendant.

The evolution of judicial precedent and thinking in this area will not only be interesting to watch but may also transform the manner in which the law, the courts and judicial systems around the globe confront and attempt to deal with legal professional and ethical issues (see generally, Friends on Facebook – Hold Them Close, Get Held in Contempt of Court!) Social media and technology, wired and wireless, continues to challenge every industry and profession and neither the law nor the legal profession are immune. Don’t hesitate to contact Keri Bruce, Lisa Kim if you want to know more about these issues, and, of course, you are always free to contact me, Joseph I. Rosenbaum, or any of the attorneys at Rimon with whom you regularly work. We would be happy to help.

Service of Process by Facebook? Not Just Yet!

Back in 2009 (yes, 2009), Legal Bytes reported that the British High Court agreed to allow the service of a court order to an individual through Twitter (see, British High Court is for the Birds? Actually, for Twitter!). In that same article, we noted an Australian Supreme Court Judge allowed service of legal papers through Facebook. Increasingly, U.S. courts are confronting similar questions.

New York law, for example, has an enumerated set of mechanisms by which one can effect service of process. But the law also notes that if the enumerated methods are impracticable, service can be made “in such manner as the court, upon motion without notice, directs." In other words, if you are trying to sue someone in New York and none of the traditional methods works, you can petition the court and request some other method, and, assuming the court agrees, that will be effective to constitute service of process. But the standards remain high for the use of social media and other technology-enabled mechanisms. Witness the recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in Fortunato v. Chase Bank USA (11 Civ. 6608), which in June of last year, denied the bank’s petition to allow service of process using Facebook.

The case started when Lorri J. Fortunato (Lorri) sued Chase, alleging that another person fraudulently opened a Chase credit card account in her name and incurred debts without her knowledge or authorization. When the debt went unpaid, Chase initiated collection proceedings against Lorri. In 2009, Chase obtained a default judgment and in 2010 began proceedings to garnish her wages – a process by which Chase eventually collected the full amount of the default judgment. But Lorri claimed she never lived at the address at which Chase attempted to serve her notice of the action and, during the course of the lawsuit, Chase discovered that Nicole Fortunato (Nicole), the plaintiff’s estranged daughter, had opened the account in her mother’s name, listed her address in the account application, and made the charges – the amount Chase ultimately received from garnishing Lorri’s wages.

Chase requested, and was granted permission, to bring Nicole into the case as a third-party defendant, but despite hiring an investigator to locate her, Chase was unable to determine exactly where Nicole lived. The investigator did, however, find a Facebook profile that was believed to be hers, and so Chase petitioned the court to allow it to effect service of process on Nicole in a number of ways, among which were service through Facebook and a message to the email address listed on the profile page.

Although the court did conclude that Nicole’s pattern of "providing fictional or out of date addresses” made service of process upon Nicole using traditional methods impracticable, the court went on to reason that Chase had not been able to assert "any facts" that could substantiate, among other things, that the Facebook profile was actually that of the Nicole Fortunato in this particular case. The court noted anyone can create "a Facebook profile using real, fake, or incomplete information," so how could they be sure it was the person they intended to serve! Feel free to read the Court’s Memorandum Opinion & Order (PDF) yourself.

The lesson from this and other cases so far: Whatever method of service of process is requested, one must be able to substantiate, with some degree of certainty, that the person intended to be served is likely to receive the summons and complaint and, thus, be apprised of the pendency of legal proceedings involving that person. Social media and technology, wired and wireless, is turning the legal world upside down. If you want to remain upright or need to know more, feel free to contact me, Joseph I. Rosenbaum, or any of the attorneys at Rimon with whom you regularly work.

Friends on Facebook – Hold Them Close, Get Held in Contempt of Court!

Since 2009, Legal Bytes has been blogging off and on about the implications of social media to the legal profession and the legal process. Whether it’s judges being "Friends" with lawyers (see, Florida Judges Can’t Have Friends), or jurors networking about evidence or cases as they deliberate (see, When Pressing Suits, Judges Tell Jurors Neither Social Nor Media is OK), or reporters "tweeting" from the courtroom (see, Freedom of the Press = Freedom to Tweet), social media is a force to be reckoned with—and the legal process also needs to reckon with it.

The latest blip on the radar comes from the UK, where Joanna Fraill, a juror, has been tried and convicted of being in contempt of court in what is being widely reported as the first Internet-related contempt of court prosecution in the UK (and perhaps anywhere). So in addition to judges, prosecutors and plaintiffs’ lawyers being wary about managing their online relationships, and jurors being admonished for searching online for information regarding the facts, parties, or issues in a case, add communication between jurors and parties in the legal proceedings to the list. Ms. Jamie Sewart, a defendant in a trial in Manchester involving billions of BPS’ worth of drugs, was contacted by Ms. Fraill, one of the jurors in the trial, through Facebook while the jury was deliberating.

Ms. Sewart admitted knowing Ms. Fraill was one of the jurors when she "accepted" the request to be friends, and the case collapsed when their communication through the social networking medium was uncovered. Ms. Sewart’s partner was convicted and is currently in prison, but Ms. Sewart was acquitted as a result of this trial. In one exchange between them – the text has now been made public – Ms. Fraill sent a message to Ms. Sewart regarding the jury deliberations stating: "cant get anyone to go either no one budging pleeeeeese don’t say anything cause jamie they could all miss trial and I will get 4cked to0."

Now before everyone rants about the evils of social media, bear in mind that the same result would be obtained if the juror had written a letter, called by phone or sent a coded message by carrier pigeon. The fact that a new means of communication – the Internet – was involved doesn’t change the admonition, the rules, or the consequences of the conduct. Indeed, with Facebook’s user population at approximately 700 million, the relatively lax attitude toward anyone monitoring their millions of followers on Twitter (or who they follow – I generally just automatically reciprocate), isn’t it likely one of you is already "Friends" with a criminal, or you will be, or you are following someone who may be appearing in court any day now?

Communication between participants in legal cases has long been the subject of ethical rules, professional guidelines and rigorous policing. Issues relating to privilege and work product, attorney-client communication, and relationships between lawyers, judges, plaintiffs and defendants, are not new. But jurors wanting to be "friends" with a defendant in the midst of a trial – well that’s one I haven’t heard before.

Rimon has teams of lawyers knowledgeable in digital evidence and discovery, employment and social media, privilege and litigation, in the age of the Internet and mobile communication. So as I’ve said before, keep your browser tuned (or bookmarked) to for breaking news, and if you do need help, contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the lawyers at Rimon with whom you work.

OMG B KEWL and call (or SMS) if you need help.

Regulators Poised to Give Financial Institutions a Slap in the Facebook

This post was also written by Anthony S. Traymore.

A few weeks ago, Legal Bytes reported that, buried in the new financial services “reform” legislation, is the establishment of a brand new regulatory agency – the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (see Congressional Hammer Poised to Strike at Financial Advertising). Guess what. Not to be outdone, the regulators are in the act – pardon the pun – already. Witness recent statements by Richard Ketchum, Chief Executive of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In recent statements, Ketchum acknowledged that Wall Street is eager to use social media like Facebook, Twitter and Linked In to interact with customers and, that to a large extent, the growth of the use of these sites is inevitable. But at a recent Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) meeting, he noted, “We continue to witness the advent of technologies that will challenge your ability to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements,” and “Social networking is one such innovation.”

At that same meeting, Ketchum raised the issue that retention functionality available on social media services may not be sufficient to ensure a financial service firm’s compliance with applicable regulations, including the FINRA Rules. If you aren’t a broker-dealer, don’t read the next sentence. But if you are: Imagine how social media services used by brokers to communicate with clients could impact FINRA Rules concerning Communications and Disclosures (see, Section 2200). FINRA has now set up a taskforce comprised of industry professionals to explore how firms may utilize social media to better communicate with their customers without “compromising investor protection.”

Such studies and evolutionary (or revolutionary) regulation are increasingly common these days. As our loyal readers already know, Legal Bytes reported previously (FTC Releases Updated Endorsement & Testimonial Guidelines and Rimon Analysis of the New FTC Endorsement and Testimonial Guidelines), that the FTC’s revised Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising will become effective Dec. 1, 2009. These revised guidelines represent updates to the prior guides, and acknowledge the proliferation of false claims, phony testimonials, and spurious endorsements (or negative comments) by consumers, experts, organizations and celebrities, through the use of blogs and other “word of mouth” marketing tools. As described in a recent Wall Street Journal article, the SEC disclosure rules apply to Tweets, blog postings, wall postings and other communication platforms provided by social media sites. Other regulatory agencies are similarly seeking to address the use of social media sites by the entities they regulate (e.g., the FCC, the New York State Insurance Department).

Do you have a social media policy?  The complexities are enormous. Internal (during work) and external (non-working hours). Employees, agents, contractors and suppliers. Domain names, URLs and trademarks (which include service marks, for you purists in the audience). Approved content or ad hoc comments. Official presence or not – condoned or not. Today, activities outside the scope of employment are often considered not attributable back to the company absent special circumstances or relationships. Will social media break down those barriers further? If so, what can companies do to reach their customers while continuing to protect their most valuable assets – their employees and their brands? Does a company have the right to regulate conduct outside the workplace, even if it involves reference to the company? Oh, and by the way, you do know that social media, enabled by the borderless web, doesn’t really pay attention to national boundaries, AND that means it’s not just U.S. law you may need to worry about – even if you are a U.S. company. If you are an international, multinational or global company . . . good luck. No, not good luck. Call us. Our Advertising Technology & Media Law group has unparalleled breadth and depth in understanding, working with, and advising clients in this brave new world.

So if any of this is of passing interest, stay tuned. If it is or becomes a pressing need, please contact Joseph I. Rosenbaum or Anthony S. Traymore, and let us help you avoid being anti-social. Of course, if you are already a Rimon client, feel free to contact the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work, and he or she will be happy to coordinate your legal needs with us.

A Pirate’s Life (Not) For Me: France Strikes Out Internet Piracy

This post was also written by Andrew Boortz.

Over the last several months, France’s Parliament has been focusing on the issue of Internet piracy. In May, both houses of the French parliament passed the so-called “three strikes” law which would have given an independent body the ability to disconnect file-sharers from their ISPs. In June, the law was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Council because, under French law, the power to force such disconnection could only come through issuance of a court order. In response, French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave the first Presidential speech to the French Parliament in 150 years and passionately defended regulation of Internet piracy.

After President Sarkozy’s speech, the French Senate drafted and passed a modified version of the “three strikes” law which would allow alleged infringers to present their case to a French court, prior to losing their Internet connection. Judges in these hearings would have the power to: (1) order disconnection of the alleged infringer’s Internet access; (2) fine the alleged infringer up to €300,000; and/or (3) sentence the alleged infringer to a two-year prison term. Just yesterday (September 15th), the French National Assembly gave preliminary approval to the measure by a vote of 285-225 and now, a joint committee will unify the Senate and Assembly versions and present a final bill to both houses for a vote on September 22nd.

In looking back over the piracy-related events of this year, it may well turn out that 2009 will be remembered as a watershed year in the struggle between Internet pirates and rights holders.  With the Jammie Thomas and Joel Tenenbaum verdicts in the States, the pseudo-shuttering of the Pirate Bay in Sweden, the implementation of a self-imposed, self-regulatory “three strikes” policy by Ireland’s largest ISP (created under threat of massive litigation) and now France’s revised and revitalized new “three strikes” law, the global community is indeed tilting towards greater sanctions and regulation of Internet piracy.

This raises questions for technology innovators. For example, Facebook, which according to a CNN report out today has a social network population nearly as large as the population of the United States, will soon launch a voice chat feature.  Most likely, the feature could be used to stream media across the globe as well as the nation? Would Facebook be liable for creation and distribution of such a feature, which is similar to that which created liability for the Pirate Bay creators for their torrent-tracking website?

Need help? Confused by the torrent of information, technology and legal rights?  Need to know more? Contact Andrew (“Drew”) Boortz, in our Washington, D.C. office, call me or contact the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.

Facebook Flap Over Ad Photos (Déjà vu All Over Again)

Last week, rumors started spreading that Facebook had changed its policy and was now allowing third-party advertisers to use your photos (i.e., images users post onto Facebook) without permission. The flap over the use of Facebook user-profile photos in advertising came into the limelight when a man, using a third-party application, saw an advertisement displayed for an online dating website, and much to his surprise—it happened to include a picture of his wife. There’s Good, Bad & Ugly.

Good news: His wife wasn’t out looking for a date. Bad news: The photo emanated from a Facebook profile photo available to companies that use the Facebook platform ad network. Ugly news: You could be next!

So here’s the scoop:

Facebook has not changed its policy and does not allow the use of your photo(s) without permission. Facebook had previously suspended two ad networks from the Facebook platform for deceptive practices and user complaints. Those ad networks were said to be using third-party applications in which these photos were embedded and, according to Facebook, that violates Facebook’s privacy policy; and the ads were misleading since they made it look as if someone’s Facebook friend had taken action when they really had not. Facebook itself issued a statement noting, “We are as concerned as many of you are about any potential threat to your experience on Facebook and the protection of your privacy. That’s why we prohibit ads on Facebook Platform that cause a bad user experience, are misleading, or otherwise violate our policies.” 

Although some Facebook users might not know it, Facebook has been running ads from its own ad system for more than a year—it lets your Facebook friends know of any direct connections you have with products and services. So if you become a "fan" of a Facebook Page, your Facebook friends might see an advertisement showing both the action you took (becoming a fan) and your profile photo along with the ad. According to Facebook, it will only do this when a Facebook user has taken some affirmative action indicating a connection with the product or service being advertised. Facebook also claims no data is shared with third parties in this process.

The best we can determine, Facebook technically only allows any user content to display in or with third-party advertising if the content isn’t being cached. While Facebook likely tries to control these networks, some obviously are not adhering to this policy, with photos then appearing not only on third-party ad networks within Facebook when they haven’t been authorized, but also in some cases outside the Facebook domain itself.

If you are a Facebook user and have actually read (and understood) its Terms and Privacy Policy, which is part of the Facebook Principles, you might know that Facebook ad networks can use these user photos in ads—they just can’t do so in violation of their privacy policy or in a deceptive manner. While clearly Facebook has an interest in keeping users comfortable with the online social media environment it has created, it will likely either do a better job of disclosing and explaining the potential uses that may be made of user information (including images, connections, and the like), or it will need to monitor and control the use of its advertising platform by third-party advertising networks that are allowed to use the platform.

Every user on Facebook is opted-in to allowing the use of their photos as described above, by default, when they sign up. Perhaps part of the flap is the fact that many users may simply have not known this. Or perhaps there’s a disclosure or communication problem within the community. Facebook might also provide more visible or multiple ways of enabling users to opt-out of this feature or create more refined privacy settings so that users are given more options and more information that allows them to control the use of their photos (and other information), certainly outside and potentially inside the Facebook social media community. Most users simply may have had no clue this was the default or that this was happening. Even when they realize this is occurring, many can’t figure out how to change the settings. Currently, the only way to fix the problem is to have users change the privacy settings that are found under “Settings,” “Privacy Settings,” “Newsfeeds and Wall”; looking for the tab that says “Facebook Ads”; and re-setting your “Appearance in Facebook Ads” preference to “No One.”

HOWEVER, just so everyone is clear—this still may not opt you out of Facebook ads displayed to your friends with your photo when you expressly take action within Facebook (e.g., becoming a "fan"), but it will opt you out of third-party network ads. That said, it remains to be seen how Facebook will deal with the delicate reality of handling third-party ad networks that aren’t Facebook affiliates, since these represent a significant source of revenue for creators of Facebook applications. 

To put it more simply, if you provide a third-party application with the right to access your information (which you generally need to do in order to use the application), then technically the advertising networks can access that information, too. That’s why users should pay attention to the applications they add, and get rid of applications they are no longer using. You can do this through the “Settings” menu as well. Head for the “Application Settings” page, and if you see a menu that says “Recently Used,” change it to “Authorized” and you will see the applications you have approved with an “X.” Just click to remove those you no longer wish to have authorization. That way, you won’t wind up as a poster child for some product or service that you did not and would not ever intend to endorse.* 

If you need to know more, please contact Joseph I. Rosenbaum at, or you can view his bio at Of course, you can always contact your favorite Rimon attorney, who will be more than happy to help you. 

* Speaking of endorsements, Joseph I. Rosenbaum was actually speaking of Endorsements (and Testimonials) at a recent CLE Conference in Ireland, sponsored and hosted by the School of Law at Limerick University and previously featured in Legal Bytes. A copy of Joe’s presentation (without the embedded videos) has been posted in .PDF format in an update to the previous posting.

Did You Miss Our Seminar: “Facebook Personalized URLs: Titanic Brand Opportunity or Tip of an Iceberg?”

As we reported previously, Facebook announced the availability of a personalized Facebook URLs, raising serious issues — yet another example of technology colliding with traditional intellectual property laws. In this case, laws intended to protect trademarks and brand names. If you followed the news, the promotional momentum created by Facebook’s offer has made every astute brand owner ponder the implications! While you, of course, should look at my previous Legal Bytes post on Personalized URLs, if you missed the informative one-hour seminar on the subject presented by Douglas J. Wood and myself, Co-Chairs of the Rimon Advertising Technology & Media Law Group, you can find it here: “Facebook Personalized URLs: Titanic Brand Opportunity or Tip of an Iceberg?

Whatz Gnu? Rimon Teleseminar: Facebook Personalized URLs: Titanic Brand Opportunity or Tip of an Iceberg?

Last week, Facebook announced the availability of a personalized Facebook URLs. This latest offering from Facebook raises serious issues—issues that are typically encountered when technology collides with traditional intellectual property laws intended to protect trademarks and brand names. Much like the confusion and abuse that proliferated when cybersquatting became rampant over the ownership and administration of domain names, we now have social networks and service providers allowing users to generate content and offering customized URLs within their domains in a digital and borderless world. Significantly, the promotional momentum created by Facebook’s offer has caused every astute brand and trademark owner to ponder whether they should be in a rush to register their personalized URL on Facebook, or let it ride and deal with potential infringements when—and if—they occur! You need practical guidance and insightful approaches to these problems.

The Media & Entertainment Industry Team and the Advertising Technology & Media Law Group at Rimon have put together an informative one-hour teleseminar entitled “Facebook Personalized URLs: Titanic Brand Opportunity or Tip of an Iceberg?” airing on Tuesday, June 23 at 12 p.m. EDT with partners Doug Wood and Joe Rosenbaum, to help you understand the issues, formulate an approach and make informed decisions and you are invited to participate. Participation is free, although long-distance telephone charges apply outside of the United States, the UK, France, and Germany, where 800 numbers are used. Don’t miss this call!

Call-in ports are limited, so please click here to register or contact Anna Kazachkov at no later than Monday, June 22, to receive a dial-in number and a passcode. If you require additional information, you can contact Anna by telephone directly at +1.212.702.1399.

Facebook Adds Personalization & a (Brand) New Dimension?

On Tuesday, June 9, the popular social networking website, Facebook, announced that on Saturday, June 13 at 12:01 a.m. U.S. EDT, it will allow its registered users, subject to certain criteria and qualifications, to create personalized URLs for profiles and pages on Facebook (e.g.,   Currently, a user’s Facebook URL consists of the URL followed by numbers (e.g.,

Allowing users to register personalized names on the web raises, among other things, infringement issues under federal and state trademark and related intellectual property laws, particularly for owners of well-known brands. Any registration process creates fears of cyber squatting and other attempts to hijack trademarks and brand names. Sometimes these fears are well founded; other times they are not. You may have already received bulletins from law firms and bloggers eager to alert you to the fact that Facebook has also announced it has created an online submission form that allows owners of registered trademarks to notify them of their IP rights. Ostensibly, Facebook intends to use the information submitted to preclude others from attempting to use registered marks in personalizing their URLs on Facebook.

While we applaud advising clients and friends of this development, we believe the matter is considerably more complicated than previous briefs and hasty reports may indicate. As is so often the case, the devil is in the detail, and the information below will give you a deeper look at the issues before racing to submit notifications of your IP rights to Facebook.

Continue reading “Facebook Adds Personalization & a (Brand) New Dimension?”

Employees Off-Work, But Online

This post was written by E. David Krulewicz and Cindy Schmitt Minniti.

Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have become household names, a ubiquitous part of the daily lives of many and often a tool for keeping in touch with friends and family. These websites are increasingly being used by individuals to document their daily lives and activities, voice their concerns and post their opinions for the world to read and to respond. The business community has also turned to these “social media” websites as means for marketing their brands and, in some instances, for obtaining information about current employees and prospective job applicants. A series of recent cases reminds us there are significant risks related to the posting and/or use of information discovered on “social media” websites.

For example, in Pietrylo and Marino v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, a case pending in the Unites States District Court for the District of New Jersey, two individuals sued their former employer after they were terminated for posting complaints about their workplace on an invitation-only discussion forum on Much to the employees’ surprise, managers from Hillstone Restaurant Group were able to access this discussion board (although the parties dispute whether the managers had a right to do so) and were less than pleased with what they read. The employees were quickly terminated and a lawsuit followed. 

In their complaint, the former employees assert their employer not only violated state and federal Wiretap and Stored Communications Acts by accessing the invitation-only forum, but wrongfully terminated them in violation of New Jersey’s public policy favoring free expression and privacy as embodied in the U.S. and the New Jersey Constitutions. Their employer has denied the claims and asserts the plaintiffs were “at-will” employees who could be terminated for any reason or no reason at all.

Ultimately, the question of liability may hinge upon whether the employees had a right to privacy for statements made online and whether the employer has a right to make disciplinary decisions based on an employee’s off-duty conduct.

Although legal commentators and privacy advocates debate how the trial will unfold when the case goes to trial later this summer, they all agree the case highlights real- world issues that can follow an individual’s seemingly innocent decision to post his or her thoughts on a social networking website. This is far from an isolated incident – indeed, the sports media recently reported a similar incident involving the Philadelphia Eagles’ termination of a long-time employee for disparaging the team’s management and its decision to release a prominent player on his Facebook page.  

While it is unclear if any of the companies in the cases above had a policy or provided instruction to their employees on these issues, it should not surprise you that increasingly business employers are finding they must do so. Clearly, before making decisions or taking action against employees for online, but off-duty conduct, employers should seek legal counsel from lawyers who understand these issues and can guide you in this dynamically evolving environment – where federal and state (and sometimes municipal or local) law may apply and little, if any, precedent currently exists. Worried? Need help? Need to understand more? Contact E. David Krulewicz or Cindy Schmitt Minniti or the Rimon lawyer with whom you work. 

Update:  Today, May 20th, after this story was posted, the U.S. House of Representatives also approved the bill regulating some common credit card and gift card industry practices. It is likely President Obama will sign the bill once it arrives on his desk.