Social media misconduct; dismissal harsh but fair

Dispute Resolution

Hospitality - 2 minutes read

Social media can play a big part in our day to day lives; however do we ever stop and think what impact our social media can have on our jobs? Well for one woman (Mrs Plant), her Facebook made a big impact on her job.

Mrs Plant had been a machinery operator for 17 years when her employer introduced a social media policy this gave examples of unacceptable activity. This included posting comments that could damage the reputation of the company.

A few months later, the company made an announcement that they could be potentially moving premises. Shortly after this Mrs Plant made the following statement on her Facebook page, which was linked to the company’s computer system: “PMSL [pissing myself laughing] bloody place I need to hurry up and sue them PMSL”

Mrs Plant went to a disciplinary hearing, and her main defence was that she didn’t realise that her Facebook was linked up to the company’s computer system, and also that the comment was not aimed at the company. After the hearing the decision was taken to dismiss. Mrs Plant argued that that the dismissal was unfair given her long service ant the fact that she had a clean disciplinary record and lack of computer literacy. 

After a while Mrs Plant accepted that the Facebook comment did breach her employer’s social media policy and that she could have changed her Facebook settings that could have avoided this situation.

However the employer changed their views about dismissing Mrs Plant as she had given a long service and the fact that she had a clean disciplinary record, therefore Mrs Plant was allowed to continue working at her job.

Although Mrs Plant was lucky and she still has her job, to anyone who mixes social media and also work, we would advise you to be careful about what you post as one sentence could lead to you getting dismissed.

As for employers, we would advise you to not to be too trigger happy in dismissing your employees but instead consider a training course or a meeting your individual employees to highlight their work policies that are in place.

We are more than happy to assist in in-house training and workshops to ensure you and your staff are up to date with current employment obligations.

This article was contributed to by one of our interns, Hannah.