There have been a few tribunal cases on this topic. Once of which involved the manager of a J D Wetherspoons – in this case the manager was involved in an incident at work where she had to ask two members of the public to leave. The manager then received several abusive phone calls at work from the customers. The manager dealt with the situation professionally and correctly at work. However, after she got home she stated a Facebook discussion with her online friends. J D Wetherspoons had a specific policy in place which stated that employees should not write or contribute to a blog, including Facebook where the content lowers the reputation of the company or its customers, the Company reserved the right to take disciplinary action where this occurs.
After investigation the manager was dismissed for her comments on Facebook. The employee took J D Wetherspoons Plc to a tribunal claiming unfair dismissal. The tribunal found that the employee’s Facebook activities were in the public domain (even although she only shared the comments with her ‘friends’ on Facebook). The tribunal found that the employers actions were justified in light of damage to it's reputation.
This case provides a live example of where employee posts on social networking sites can impact on an Organisation’s reputation very easily – at the click of a button!
It is advisable to have a clear policy and guidance for employees on the use of social networking sites – having this in place will ensure staff know the rules and make it easier for employers to deal
with any breach of the guidelines.
If you would like to discuss this further please feel free to give me a call.