Work in the Time of COVID-19: FAQs for Employers

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During World War II, the English Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, beset by enemies and critics from the Nazi Alliance and his own countrymen, was famously reported to say, upon hearing that he had died, “the rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.” I recently had occasion to feel a kinship to Mr. Churchill when one of my very loyal clients and friends called me in a dither to ask, “What’s this I hear about you retiring?”

After I recovered from the absolute shock of that announcement – and my fear that I was, in fact, being retired, I asked her where she heard this. She said, “Well, a mutual friend heard it from another friend who saw it on someone’s LinkedIn account.”

I’ve never much liked all this social media stuff, probably because I’m too old and media-challenged to really understand it. But, in that moment, I realized the power of social media.

In prior issues of Shorts, we’ve shared the developing legal areas of social media risks and privacy concerns. We’ve written about employee policies limiting the use of social media and about provider risks from tapping into this vast, but often uncontrollable, technological craze.

With all that information in my worldly experience, it still shocked me that now I was one of those people we’ve been writing about. Some poor soul somewhere, obviously with nothing better to do, decided that I was retiring, or heard it from someone else, and whether by innocent inadvertence or malicious design, set off a chain of rumors. When I got the third call about my retirement, I felt again the power of social media.

Like so many other folks who have been the subject of groundless and annoying public announcements released via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I’ve spent considerable time and energy responding to the news that I’m retiring from my practice.

On one hand, I’m sort of flattered that anyone would care. On the other hand, I’m sort of annoyed to think that IF I were retiring, someone else could steal my thunder by announcing it before I could.

So, to set the record straight, I’m not retiring. I haven’t even thought about retiring. Of course, if my $1 Mega Millions ticket hits, all bets are off. In the meantime, I decided to do what old codgers like me do – use a traditional, old-fashioned medium, our newsletter, to beat back the rumors of social media. Perhaps to the dismay of my competitors and hopefully to the delight of my clients (or I’m REALLY in trouble), let me assure you that I’m not retiring.

Though it may seem I’ve been around practicing long term care law since Christ was an infant, as the old saying goes, it’s only been 28 years and though from time to time, I think about running away from it all – to a beach in Tahiti and making coconut shell cups, I’m not quite ready for that yet. I’m afraid I’ll still be around for years to come, God willing. So, if you hear about my retirement, wait until you hear it from me.

Remember this lesson that we’ve written about so often in Shorts – social media is here to stay and it’s a powerful, and often positive tool, but it has its downside. Make sure your policies on the use of social media by your company, and especially your employees are accurate and controlled. And, as a personal favor to your aging but still kicking lawyer, if you hear that I’m retiring from any CREDIBLE source, like my firm’s management committee, please let me know. 🙂 Thanks, Ken

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