Blog

You Are Here:

Conducting your Social Media Life

Posted on | Posted in Unfair Dismissal

In a time not so long ago, if an individual had a thought that they wanted to discuss, they would have to wait to get to a pub or a cafe in order to discuss it with a small cohort of friends. In the intervening time, they may well have forgotten what the thought even was! The advent of social media has dramatically changed this: individuals are now able to broadcast their views to thousands of strangers with the click of a button.

Whereas before less socially acceptable views may have been restrained by the disapproving looks of a friend, now the same views can be shouted from the comfort of an individual’s home with the further comfort of apparent anonymity.

Except that, on social media, individuals are far from anonymous: a search of an individual’s profile can quickly reveal who they are, where they live, their mother’s name and whether their cousin enjoys curry. In fact, the reader of a social network entry can know far more about an individual who “posts” a socially unacceptable comment than the person who overhears it with disapproval from the next table in the pub.

When an employee broadcasts offensive comments through social networks regarding their employers, and their employer is identifiable, disciplinary action will normally follow: such comments can embarrass and undermine an employer.

What happens if the employee posts remarks which, from the employer’s perspective, are socially unacceptable, but have nothing to do with the individual’s employment?

This was considered in the case of Smith v Trafford Housing Trust where an employee linked a BBC website regarding gay marriage to his Facebook wall and wrote a comment stating “an equality too far”. Later, for good measure, he added: “I don’t understand why people who have no faith and don’t believe in Christ would want to get hitched in church; the bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women; if the state wants to offer civil marriage to same sex then that is up to the state; but the state shouldn’t impose its rules on places of faith and conscience”.

A colleague saw the postings and complained to the individual’s manager. Disciplinary action was started and the individual was demoted, suffering a 40% pay cut. Was this fair? No, said the Court.

Some individuals may agree with the views presented, some will find them entirely unacceptable; however the Court

found that, not only could no rational individual believe that the comments made by the employee were made on behalf of the employer, but, also, that the frank but lawful expression of religious or political views may frequently cause a degree of upset, but that this is a necessary price to be paid for freedom of speech.

Trethowans’ view:

It is important to remember that employees have a right to express their opinions outside of work, even if those views contradict those of the employer. Before considering disciplinary action, consider carefully whether, objectively, the post could be deemed to reflect the views of the employer; if not, then disciplinary action will rarely be warranted.

www.trethowans.com

0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts
25 Mar 2020

Why you should always be recruiting

Being on the constant look out for potential candidates is essential for attracting the very best people to your business. By waiting until you need someone, you’ll only get the best of candidates available at that point in time. However, by always recruiting, you expose your business to the best of the best. Here’s some[…..]

Latest Posts
12 Mar 2020

The wonder of women

– My inspirational week   Last week was incredibly inspirational for me, and not only because Sunday was International Women’s Day. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday attending a Mental Health First Aid course in Basingstoke, courtesy of Neil Perry Mental Health. It was noticeable that all delegates were women and I hope future events attract[…..]

Latest Posts
17 Feb 2020

Do you hate job boards? Why registering with a recruitment agency helps your job search

Are you tired of spending hours online searching for jobs? Applying for hundreds of positions and not receiving so much as an acknowledgement? Fed-up of being unemployed or unhappy with your current career path? Here at Wote Street People, we always strive to find the perfect match between candidate and employer – something that cannot[…..]

Latest Posts
20 Dec 2019

When the going gets tough: celebrating resilience

Wote Street People sponsors University of Winchester Resilience Award With Christmas nearly upon us, the ‘silly season’ starts – parties ramp up, office life slows down, and chat about what everyone is doing this year is as plentiful as the supply of festive bakes. But it’s not the most wonderful time of the year for[…..]

Latest Posts
04 Nov 2019

Boringstoke to Amazingstoke: 3 reasons why Basingstoke is a great place to look for work in 2020

Another year is almost over and with less than 50 shopping days before Christmas, you may also be thinking about a career move in the New Year. Why not consider a job in Basingstoke? Located in Basing View, one of Basingstoke’s growing business communities, Wote Street People know what a great place Basingstoke is to[…..]