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Posted on 12th March 2009
Case law

Would you want to dismiss if one of your employees described their job as boring? One employer recently did according to a report by BBC news. Will that employer be able to successfully defend themselves if that employee brought a claim for unfair dismissal? Maybe - if they have policies prohibiting comments on social networking sites.

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Julie Temple Julie
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Her employer decided it had to dismiss as her employment was untenable

My work is boring

The report by BBC news concerned a teenage employee, employed for only a few months. Her employer found out that she had made a comment on Facebook that her job was 'boring'. Her employer decided that it had to dismiss as her continued employment was 'untenable'. No claim is likely given the employee's length of service but employers need to be aware of the potential risks and take action to protect themselves.

To be in a strong position to successfully defend against an employment tribunal claim in these circumstances an employer must be able to show that the employee knew that their actions were prohibited and could result in dismissal. In addition a fair procedure must also have been followed.

In practice

With the increasing popularity of social network websites like Facebook and the view that they are safe environments for frank discussions with friends about work, negative comments will not be uncommon. These comments can put an employer in a difficult position with clients and in extreme cases bring the employer into disrepute. If your business is potentially sensitive to the comments of employees on the world wide web it is important to take action now and to review internal policies and procedures. Policies dealing with acceptable internet use at home and work and gross misconduct must be reviewed as a minimum.

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