The Reporter covers Miller, Morgan and Camden County in Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks and is published once per week on Wednesdays.
Published June 5, 2019
City addresses employee’s personal social media
LAKE OZARK – The city has passed the first reading of a new ordinance that sets out guidelines for what employees can (or can’t) post on their personal social media accounts, even on their own time, along with possession of weapons and nepotism.
The reasons for these guidelines were explained in the proposed ordinance.
“Your use of social networking reflects on both you personally and your associates, including your employer, the City of Lake Ozark. The City does not intend to restrict your ability to have an online presence nor does it mandate what you generally can and cannot post online.
“However, the City expects you to be responsible and accountable for what you post, just as if you said your posts out loud in public or published them in a newspaper. Remember, posts on the internet are immediate, permanent, and never truly private. Therefore, the City requires that its employees follow these guidelines in the use of social media:”
Though the ordinance says it does not “mandate what you generally can and cannot post online” it then goes into explaining certain restrictions on all city employees that have personal social media accounts.
Some of the restrictions are understandable, for instance:
“Employees are prohibited from making posts during their working hours, even if from a non-owned City device; and employees are prohibited from accessing and following social media sites during working hours, even if from a non-owned City device, unless such use of social media is directly related to the employees official job duty or function.”
“Never post any confidential, sensitive, personal or proprietary information about the City or its employees, or information gained through your employment about any other person or entity. While you may not be responsible for posts of your spouse, family members or associates, you will be held accountable for any information anyone posts that contains or references any matter regarding the City, its business and/or employees that has been gained from you and is not generally known to the public.”
“No employee may create an ‘official’ City blog, social media page, website, or any other social medial online presence without the written authorization of the Board of Aldermen.”
But other restrictions will apply to what a person personally posts on their own social media account, on their own time.
“Use of social media by employees is subject to all provisions of the City’s ordinances and personnel policies. Any conduct in violation of this policy or any other policy or ordinance of the City in your use of social media is grounds for disciplinary action as set out in the City’s personnel policies.
“The City’s employees that publish personal blogs must make clear to readers of their blogs that the views expressed on those blogs are personal and are in no way the view of the City.”
“Obey all laws, including, but not limited to those laws governing defamation, discrimination, harassment and copyrights.”
The ordinance did not state whether the city requires that they have total access to an employee’s personal social media accounts.
Weapon possession are also a target of the new ordinance.
With the exception of city employees whose job requires the possession of a weapon, no weapons of any kind are allowed to be carried on the employee at any time on any city property, on or off the clock “regardless of any certification or permit an employee may have allowing them to otherwise possess such weapon.”
“Weapons shall include, but not be limited to, guns/firearms, knives or any bladed instrument with a blade length in excess of four inches, or explosive device or chemical whose purpose is to cause harm to another person.
A “weapon” does not include any tool or device that is normally used by an employee in the function of their job.
Law enforcement officers are exempt from this ordinance.
However, with the permission of the City Administrator and the city police chief “an employee may keep a weapon in their personal vehicle so long as the weapon remains securely locked within the vehicle while the employee is on city owned, leased or controlled property and/or while otherwise engaged in the scope of their employment.”
State Statute 571.107, Paragraph 6, does give governments the authority to enact anti-weapon laws, with some restrictions.
Paragraph 6: The general assembly, supreme court, county or municipality may by rule, administrative regulation, or ordinance prohibit or limit the carrying of concealed firearms by permit or endorsement holders in that portion of a building owned, leased or controlled by that unit of government. Any portion of a building in which the carrying of concealed firearms is prohibited or limited shall be clearly identified by signs posted at the entrance to the restricted area. The statute, rule or ordinance shall exempt any building used for public housing by private persons, highways or rest areas, firing ranges, and private dwellings owned, leased, or controlled by that unit of government from any restriction on the carrying or possession of a firearm.
“The statute, rule or ordinance shall not specify any criminal penalty for its violation but may specify that persons violating the statute, rule or ordinance may be denied entrance to the building, ordered to leave the building and if employees of the unit of government, be subjected to disciplinary measures for violation of the provisions of the statute, rule or ordinance.”
Nepotism is also included in the proposed ordinance.
• Persons related to an elected official of the City shall not be employed by the City during the tenure of said elected official. If the employment precedes the election, any employee who is not an exempt employee under FSLA may continue in their employment. Exempt employees under the FLSA must resign their position upon the related family member taking office.
• Persons related to each other shall not be employed by the City in the same department unless the Personnel Management Team grants an exemption. However, in no event, may related persons be in a supervisory/subordinate relationship. It is the employee’s responsibility to make the City Administrator aware of any relationships with fellow employees falling within the provisions of this section.
• For purposes of this section, the term “related” shall be defined to include any relationship by blood or marriage within the fourth degree.”
The first reading of this ordinance passed unanimously last week at the Board of Aldermen meeting. The second reading is expected at the next meeting, which should take place June 11
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