Alex Stevens in Bloomberg BNA Labor and Employment Law Resource Center: Idaho Nurse's Post About Wanting to Slap Patient Was Misconduct Under Media Policy

07/07/2014


A nurse who posted off duty on his personal Facebook page that he wanted to “slap the ever loving bat snot”out of a patient who was “being a jerk” engaged in employment-related misconduct, even though his employer's social media policy didn't expressly bar making disrespectful comments about patients electronically, a split Idaho Supreme Court ruled June 20 (Talbot v. Desert View Care Ctr., 2014 BL 172794, Idaho, No. 41208, 6/20/14).

The court, in an opinion by Chief Justice Roger S. Burdick, also found significant the fact that nurse Joseph E. Talbot signed a form acknowledging his receipt of and agreement with employer Desert View Care Center's social media policy...

The provision called for employees “to treat physicians, providers, vendors, conservators, regulators, competitors, fellow employees, managers, and the family members of our patients with respect electronically, as well as in-person.” The policy also told employees to avoid “slanderous, vulgar, obscene, intimidating, threatening or other ‘bullying' behavior electronically toward any of the groups identified above or towards other facility stakeholders.”

Alex Stevens, a labor and employment associate with Haynes and Boone, LLP in Dallas, told Bloomberg BNA June 24 that he believed most courts would interpret the absence of patients in Desert View's policy as an “unintentional omission.” From an employer perspective, Stevens said, the case shows the importance of the “careful drafting” of policies.

Excerpted from Bloomberg BNA Labor and Employment Resource Law Center, July 7, 2014. To view full article, click here (subscription required).

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