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 Jul 2018

Educate employers about benefits of older workers

The latest report from the Government’s Women and Equalities Committee says older workers still face discrimination and the recruitment industry’s ‘failure to take more robust action has a significant impact on (their) ability to access work’. Maxine Hart, our Operations Director, has something to say. Valuing best practice The report is pretty damning stuff. But[…..]

Latest Posts
28 Jun 2018

Feeling hot, hot, hot?

Isn’t the weather glorious.  I don’t think anything beats a British heatwave.  It reminds of just how beautiful our country can be.  Granted, it would be more enjoyable if we weren’t all stuck in the office! So, how can we office workers stay cool in office? Here’s a few tips! If you’re luck enough to[…..]

Latest Posts
26 Jun 2018

Here’s what happened when we took on an apprentice…

A little over 18 months ago, we decided it was time to try something new.  Finding people jobs in Basingstoke and surrounding areas, Wote Street People has always grown organically, but after a stagnant 12 months we wanted to initiate a change. How were we going to do this?  Do we just wait for the[…..]

Latest Posts
07 Jun 2018

Proud of our community champion and awards finalist

Maxine Hart, Operations Director at Wote Street People, made the finals of the recent Place to Be Proud of Awards, nominated alongside Lamb Brooks Solicitors and The Champion Group in the Business and the Community category. Following a public vote, Champion was announced as the winner at a ceremony on 6th June at the Haymarket[…..]

Latest Posts
29 May 2018

How to get a summer job in Basingstoke

Whether you’re back in Basingstoke for the summer or you’ve recently left school or college, getting a summer job is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable work experience and earn funds – it can’t be all work and no play! What type of summer job could you get? Hospitality & Events, Production Line, Warehouse, Admin,[…..]