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Derogatory comments on Facebook – A fair dismissal

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has recently decided a case which provides a useful reminder to employers of the importance of maintaining an effective social media policy and to employees about the dangers of posting incautious or derogatory comments online.

A British Waterways Board employee made a number of derogatory statements about the Board on Facebook and also apparently admitted being drunk whilst on standby in an online posting.  In some of the less intemperate postings the employee said:

  • “Hard to sleep when the joys of another week at work are looming NOT”;
  • “Going to be a long day I hate my work”.
  • “That’s why I hate my work … it’s not the work it’s the people who run it nasty horrible human beings”; and
  • “On standby tonight so only going to get half pissed LOL.”

The Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that it was fair of the Board to dismiss the employee for making the derogatory comments on Facebook and that was notwithstanding the fact that the comments had been posted two years before the dismissal and that the Board had been aware of the misconduct throughout that period. 

This is another timely reminder to both businesses and their employees of the sense of having internet and email policies and of taking care when sending work related emails or discussing one’s employer and place of work on social media sites.  

We can assist you in ensuring that your social media policy is effective, call us on 01274 306 000 or email James Staton.

About the Author

James Staton

Partner

James is a Partner and Head of the Dispute Resolution team and primarily handles commercial…

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