A Tribunal has ruled that an employee who was sacked for liking a Facebook post criticising her boss (P) was unfairly dismissed.

The Facts

DT and her partner S worked in a bar in Lincoln. S was accused of drinking alcohol during his shift by P and resigned immediately. Once home, S wrote a Facebook post about P alleging, amongst other things, that he was “a creepy and wildly inappropriate man” who “allowed underage drinking at the bar” and didn’t provide his employees with breaks.

In support of her partner, DT both liked and shared S’s posts on her own Facebook and Snapchat accounts. When P discovered this, DT was suspended. She raised a grievance which was ignored and was then dismissed for gross misconduct at the end of October 2020.

Throughout DT’s employment, there were no grievances, disciplinary harassment/equality or social media policies in place.

DT claimed unfair dismissal and was awarded £3,000 in compensation.

Where did the employer go wrong?

The tribunal noted that:-

  • P had reviewed and monitored DT’s personal social media account without T having any policy in place which said that this activity might occur;
  • There were no other relevant policies in place e.g. disciplinary procedure;
  • No real disciplinary process was followed by the employer; and
  • Employees can be dismissed for unacceptable posts on their social media accounts, but this must always be a reasonable response by the employer. In this case, DT hadn’t written the offending post herself and she had removed it from her personal account shortly after liking and sharing it. There were also no other clear policies in place which she was expected to follow.

What can employers learn from this case?

Cases like this demonstrate that employers must conduct a proper disciplinary process, respond reasonably (even when faced with what some would consider serious misconduct) and ensure that. They have relevant policies in place so that staff know what the rules are and how to follow them.

How can we help?

If you are an employer or employee dealing with misconduct allegations, you need prompt, cost-effective and plain-English legal advice to ensure that you get the protection and support you need. Should you have any queries in relation to any of the issues discussed in this article or indeed any other employment law issues, please do not hesitate to contact Hannah at 01206 239757 or Hannah.campbell@attwells.com.

This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.

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