Facebook (again)

Handling issues relating to Facebook and social media generally is becoming increasingly prevalent for employers and employment solicitors. The combination of immediacy, permanency and the wide reach of social media makes for a dangerous cocktail especially when the lines between ones personal and work life become blurred. In yet another case where the central issues relate to posts on Facebook (British Waterways Board v Smith) the EAT overturned a Tribunal’s decision that an employee was unfairly dismissed for posting entries on Facebook.

Mr Smith’s posts suggested he had been drinking while on standby and he also posted offensive comments about his work colleagues. The Tribunal found that the dismissal was unfair because they accepted Mr Smith’s arguments that he had not actually been drinking (he said he was joking) and the offensive comments amounted to “banter”. However, the EAT (correctly in my view) overturned this decision holding that the dismissal was fair. The case serves as a warning to employees of the danger of Facebook and a warning to employers of the risk of attending a Tribunal even when you are on the right side of the law!

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