Derogatory comments on social media leads to dismissal.
Do you have an effective social media policy in place to prevent employees being dismissed?
Information or derogatory comments posted on social media can have serious repercussions for your business.
A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) case, in which derogatory comments on social media led to a dismissal, provides a useful reminder to businesses of the importance of an effective email and social media policy. It also demonstrates to employees the importance of being aware that, what you are discussing online, whether on social media, the Internet or in emails can have a direct effect on your employer and ultimately your employment.
The EAT decided that it was fair to dismiss an employee who had made derogatory comments about his employer on Facebook. The misconduct had taken place two years before the dismissal, but this did not matter. Nor did it matter that the employer had known about the misconduct throughout that period. This case shows that if an employer fails to act at the time of misconduct, it doesn’t mean they will lose the opportunity to take action later.
Be aware of what you are posting on social media
As an employer, you should be aware that any information written on the Internet or in emails could damage your businesses reputation. You cannot control who sees that information or what a recipient does with it and once something has been posted it is very difficult to delete it and stop people seeing it. It could lead to financial loss to the business or legal proceedings.
As an employee, it is important to remember anything you say in an email or online, even if it is in your own time, can cause serious damage to your reputation or that of your employer. You could lose your job and you and your employer could be sued, fined or even imprisoned.
As an employee you can minimise the risk substantially just by taking time to stop and think about what you are writing before making it public. Remember that anything written in an email or on social media has the potential for public exposure and that making a statement on the internet is basically the same as making a public statement. It is very difficult to delete emails and public postings once they have been sent, even if you think it has been deleted!
If you are at all concerned about whether information contained in an email is confidential take advice from a manager or legal adviser before clicking send.
As an employer having a clear policies regulating the use of social media and email usage in place, communicated to staff with training provided where necessary is key to avoiding the risk. Information or derogatory comments posted on social media can have serious repercussions for your business. Should the worst happen an effective policy can allow you to remove the member of staff and if necessary claim damages.