The Fair Work Commission made minor changes to the Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 2010. The changes centre...
Unfair DismissalOctober 21, 2014
A 51 year old meat inspector, Alan Blue, has been unfairly dismissed for ‘liking’ a derogatory Facebook comment a former colleague wrote about his manager. The food standards agency in Renfrewshire, Scotland employed Blue for more than 20 years and was found to have unfairly dismissed him because the Facebook ‘like’ was not conducted during work time and Blue engaged in the conversation because he thought it was private.
Blue felt sympathy for two of his former colleagues who had been sacked over what appears to be a physical assault of a manager. One of the men had hit their manager with a hard hat and been sacked for it. Blue joined in on the Facebook ‘banter’ about his manager and this is where he liked a comment which indicated his support to assault the manager. The comment stated, ‘Lucky a (sic) never f***ed a chair aff (sic) his head’ which suggested that the sacked employee wanted to hit him over the head with a chair.
The Facebook comments were shown to management at the meat abattoir and Blue was sacked. Blue’s defence was that he never meant to hurt anyone and that he assumed the conversation was the same as “having a chat with friends down at the pub”. However like many controversial Facebook comments in the past and many more come, it was shown to the manager.
A disciplinary investigation was launched into the matter and the manager argued that the like was a breach of trust and not professional. The food standards agency had issued guidance on the use of social media but this was ‘directed at use at work’. There was no claim to suggest that Blue had liked the comment whilst at work and that the conversation appeared to be open to the public.
Blue was therefore awarded £4,560.96 for breach of contract and £28,238.17 for unfair dismissal. He also requested to return to his role as meat inspector however the judge denied his request. Blue has not been able to find another job since November last year.
Employers must set social media standards and expectations. Appropriateness of your staff’ social media activity needs to be clear. Employee handbooks and contracts need to outline social media policies which protect the reputation of your companies brand and the people who work there. If you would like to implement a social media policy today call Employsure on 1300 651 415 or fill in the form below.
*Information sourced via The Mirror and Workplace Info websites.