Social media posts are a threat

Graham Davies

Graham Davies

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Employees have been warned that derogatory social media posts could come back to haunt them even years after they appear.

Graham Davies, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, made the announcement after an employment tribunal ruled an employee had been fairly dismissed for making rude comments about his colleagues online.

“The long-serving employee was dismissed for the comments he made on Twitter about his colleagues and his employer that dated back up to three years.

“His comments were made on an open Twitter account that was visible to everyone and were discovered as part of an investigation into the alleged bullying of a colleague.

“The employer took disciplinary action against him and although the bullying allegations were thrown out, he was dismissed for gross misconduct over his tweets.”

Mr Davies said the employee had claimed he had thought his tweets were private and that they had been posted two or three years ago, and that he ‘deserved to be treated sympathetically’ after nearly 30 years’ service.

His appeal against his dismissal was rejected and he brought an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, but the tribunal threw out his claim.

“The tribunal accepted that his dismissal was for a potentially fair reason related to his conduct and that his employer was entitled to take action when it discovered the derogatory comments he had made online.

“They said the age of the tweets did not matter and that the employee had been given the opportunity to explain his comments but had given an unsatisfactory reason for his actions.

“This case is a clear warning to anyone who uses social media that they need to be aware that anything they post is online forever – and that their employer can quite easily see what they’ve been saying.

“It’s not like a conversation that takes place outside the office among friends – posting online means your comments and opinions reach a far wider audience which means an employer’s reputation could be at stake.

“Employees would be wise to remember that anything they post online could get back to their employer or potential future employers, and so it’s vital that employees exercise extreme caution before they publish anything on a public social media account.”

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