EMPLOYMENT ISSUES FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is a valuable tool for businesses to interact with customers. It is also a useful research tool for employers when hiring, firing or taking disciplinary action against employees.
Businesses can be brought into disrepute by employees publishing defamatory material or by an employee’s conduct on social media. The employer has a right to protect its reputation and may have grounds for dismissal of an employee in such circumstances. This use of social media by employers has to be balanced with the employee’s right to private life, otherwise the employer may be subject to an unfair dismissal claim.
In Copeland -v- UK, the use of the employer’s internet, email and telephone during working hours for personal correspondence constituted the employee’s “private life”, as such the employer breached the employee’s right by monitoring these mediums without informing her. However, in Crisp -v- Apple, Apple lawfully dismissed an employee who had posted defamatory statements on his private Facebook page. This was because Apple had a Social Media Policy (SMP) that was communicated to the employee.
It is essential that employers have tailored SMPs in place for the protection of both themselves and their employees. Dismissal in reliance of policies that are too intrusive or insufficiently clear can constitute grounds for unfair dismissal.
Please contact Tom Marshall for more information.