Facebook and dismissal

Recent statistics show that worldwide there are 1.94 billion monthly active users of Facebook as at March 2017. Five new profiles are created every second.  It is fair to say therefore that Facebook is likely to be with us for some time and as some have commented, it is 'too big to ignore'.

The fact that the use of Facebook can be such a central part of people's daily lives can mean that people are not vigilant about what they post. Many often forget the impact that social media posts that are accessible to virtually all can have on their employment prospects.

A recent Employment Tribunal case considered the impact of social media posts on employment.

In December 2015, a company introduced a new social media policy in which it included a list of some activities which employees should not engage in on social media.

An employee of 17 years with a clear employment record put comments on her Facebook page including that at work she was a 'general dogsbody' and referred to work as 'that bloody place'.  Her Facebook profile included her place of work and her job title.

The comments came to the attention of her employer and a disciplinary meeting was held. The employee claimed that she did not know that her Facebook page was linked to her employer and she did not believe that the comments were aimed at her employer. She was dismissed and brought a claim for unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal. Her claim did not succeed and her dismissal was upheld.

The Tribunal considered that her Facebook comments were 'derogatory and insulting if not to the respondents certainly to her colleagues occupying the same position'. The blatant breach of the employer's policy meant that this dismissal was not unfair.

This is a fast moving and continually developing area and employees and employers need to be vigilant. All employers should have a robust and up to date social media policy.

To discuss this or any other employment related issue, contact us.

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