As social media continues to integrate into our everyday life both at home and at work, the inevitable problems of misuse and abuse have increased. Experts at leading Cheltenham solicitors, Harrison Clark Rickerbys, are advising employers in particular to make sure that they are ‘savvy’ when it comes to their employees’ use of social media.
Matt Jenkin, Partner and employment law specialist at Harrison Clark Rickerbys, explains further: “Two recent cases have highlighted problem areas for employers arising out of the misuse of social media and Twitter in particular.
“In the first case, Game Retail Limited v Laws, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that a dismissal of an employee for sending offensive, non-work related tweets was potentially fair. Mr Laws was employed by Game as a risk and loss prevention officer. He had set up a private Twitter account and followed the Twitter accounts of those stores that he had responsibility for. He also allowed those stores to follow him. Mr Laws hadn’t used the privacy settings so his tweets were publicly visible.
“Concerns were raised about a number of offensive tweets sent by Mr Law, a number of which contained expletives and obscene language. Game carried out an investigation and following a disciplinary hearing dismissed Mr Laws for gross misconduct. His appeal against dismissal was rejected and he brought a claim for unfair dismissal. Whilst an employment tribunal did initially find that he had been unfairly dismissed, this was overturned by the EAT who has sent the case back to be reheard by a new tribunal. The EAT felt that the original tribunal had acted in error by failing to focus on whether the tweets were offensive and whether other staff or customers might have read them.
“This case has been swiftly followed by reports in the media that Hargreaves Lansdown has sacked an employee over a ‘Twitter’ joke. It has been reported by the BBC that the employee in question was fired after tweeting he had hit a cyclist with his car but did not stop as he was “late for work”. Even though the employee in question subsequently tweeted that he hadn’t hit anyone and that his original tweet had been a “dumb mistake”, his employer viewed this as failing to conduct himself to the standards expected and terminated his employment with immediate effect.
“These cases highlight the need for employers to set out very clear expectations concerning the use of social media and the subsequent consequences for employees if they fail to meet these expectations.”
The team of experts from Harrison Clark Rickerbys will be looking at these and other issues at their next free employment breakfast seminar entitled “Social Media on the Job – the Employers Guide”, on 24th February in Cheltenham.
The team will look at the good, the bad and the ugly of social media, guiding attendees through the potential pitfalls, leaving them a ‘social media savvy’ employer. Open to all local employers, the free seminar will start at 8:00am on 24th February at the Cheltenham office of Harrison Clark Rickerbys. So start 2015 by getting ‘social media savvy’ – visit www.hcrlaw.com/events for further information and to book your place.
To find out more please contact:
Clare Farquhar T: 01531 640256 | 07795 071569 firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire Brown T: 07787 505963 email@example.com