Mark Edmonds explains that the destructive power of social networking was demonstrated to a male employee in a recent Employment Tribunal case.

In Teggart v Teletech UK Limited NIIT 007904/11 Mr Teggart the employee in question decided to post comments referring to the promiscous tendencies of a fellow colleague on his Facebook page. He was then dismissed by the employer for gross misconduct. He appealed the decision on the basis that he had meant the comments as a joke and had not intended to harass or bully. He further contended that the company had not followed a correct process when coming to the decision to dismiss him.

The Employment Tribunal found that the comments outlined on the Facebook page constituted harassment and that the dismissal of the employee was fair.

Harassment is a developing area of law and at present can be summarized with reference to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 as a course of condcut involving more than one unwarranted form communication. It can, as it was in this case also be defined with reference to a particular company’s relevant policy.

The case demonstrates that before posting comments on social networking sites you should seriously consider the repercussions. Not only can comments bringing the company into disrepute be regarded as gross misconduct but comments relating to your colleagues can also lead to disciplinary actions. Comments relating to their sexual exploits outside of work and in fact anything that could be regarded as derogatory and defamatory could be, on the facts of this case, enough to see gross misconduct allegations brought against you.

You have been warned, if you can’t keep dirty talk in the bedroom don’t post it on Facebook!

If you need help with an issue arising from workplace bullying, internet harassment or misuse of social media, please contact Donal Blaney at Griffin Law.