The recent Vancouver riots – and subsequent termination of a number of employees from various companies – have demonstrated that with the popularity of social media, there is little in terms of expectation of privacy and information posted online could be proliferated, duplicated and posted endlessly.

“I think this will be a turning point in how employers look at social media,” says Peter Eastwood, a partner in the Vancouver office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG). “This is an extremely powerful tool that has potentially enormous and immediate consequences for a business.”

Confronted with this information online, employers must make the difficult decision of how to proceed – knowing that an employee may have exhibited questionable judgment and taken part in unlawful behaviour. But, it’s essential that employers are taking time to examine the images or statements to ensure they are not misleading.

“Employers must be cautious, to collect information and investigate what happened, and that includes talking to those involved and hearing their side of the story before taking action,” says Peter.