When Saying The Wrong Thing Online Leads To Trouble In The Workplace
Published 11 April 2017
Expressing unhappiness on social media is pretty much the norm these days, but when it is considered work related it can cause big trouble for employees.
Jason finished work for the day at a London-based office of a utility company and posted comments on Facebook to say he had, had a bad day and was feeling terrible as a result.
The post was shared with only a small group of friends, which included colleagues and management, on a private account.
It made no mention of his employer or said that anything associated with work was responsible for how he was feeling. But that did not stop someone reporting it to his bosses. The company, which had recently introduced a social media policy, launched an investigation.
Jason was asked to attend an investigation meeting where the company produced a printed version of his comments. He was honest, open, cooperated fully and explained the comments while making it clear they were not related to his work.
Jason was convinced the matter would go no further, and was shocked to later receive notification to attend a disciplinary hearing.
The allegation was that he had potentially brought the company into disrepute with clients and breached the company’s social media policy with comments about the work environment.
Worried Jason contacted Castle Associates for help. Upon reviewing the case our representative had significant concerns about the fairness of the process.
These included, but were not limited to, the following: the investigating officer was appointed to chair the disciplinary hearing, no clients saw the comments; no evidence of the organisation being brought into disrepute; no evidence the comments were specific to work; and Jason had never been provided with the social media policy.
Our representative was so concerned about the fairness of the process that he raised his concerns at the start of the disciplinary hearing, and before the case was heard. He asked the company to carefully consider, then adjourn and address all of his concerns before proceeding with the hearing, and it agreed to do so.
Jason was cleared of any wrongdoing just over a week later following email and telephone correspondence between our representative and the employer.