The Anti Social Network

27 Apr 2011

As anyone who watched the recent film knows, since its very inception Facebook has been the subject of litigation.

Whilst a case involving a manager of a Wetherspoons pub might not be dealing with such high sums as the more famous Facebook litigation, it is of considerably more relevance to UK employers.

The pub manager in question made comments on Facebook about two of her customers, who had verbally abused and threatened her.  Wetherspoons acknowledged that the employee's comments appeared to be a joke between friends and the employee believed that her privacy settings meant that only close friends could see her entries.

Unfortunately for her, in fact a much wider audience could view her comments and the employee was dismissed for gross misconduct.

This is not the first time that an employee has been dismissed following a Facebook faux pas; however, the employee's genuine mistake as to the extent of her privacy settings might have garnered her some sympathy from the Employment Tribunal.

It didn't.

The Tribunal concluded that the employee was in breach of Wetherspoons' internet policy which made specific reference to the use of social media such as Facebook and, as a result, the dismissal was fair.

This case is a timely reminder to review your internet policy: make sure that it's up to date and that it refers to social networking sites and make sure your employees are aware of the policy.

With the right documents in place, you'll be in a far better position to make sure that the recalcitrant employee's next status update says "I've been sacked".