The use and management of contacts in employee LinkedIn and Twitter accounts is causing increasing concern for employers and there have been a small number of significant international legal cases that are starting to form our perspective, and should indicate how the Irish courts will address this – as yet we have had no Irish case law on this issue.
In UK, an employee left his employer to set up a rival agency, the employer suspected that the employee was using confidential information about clients and contacts which he had copied to his LinkedIn account during his employment. It was held, by the UK court, that contacts uploaded to a personal LinkedIn account could constitute company property when the employee left. Hays Specialist Recruitment (Holdings) Ltd v Ions
As Ireland has no legal precedent on this, the best advice to employers is to state on confidentiality agreements and employee handbooks that the employer has ownership of social media contacts used by the employee for business reasons. Also employers should ensure that employees do not add work-related contacts to personal social media accounts – such as Facebook – or make it very clear on what basis they are permitted to do so.