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Facebook could see you fired! – As published in the Gold Coast Sun Legal Affairs – 7/12/11

Be careful what you say on Facebook.

Social media such as Facebook, twitter and other public forums enable employers to ‘screen’ employees or prospective employees and may allow the employer to terminate employment on the basis of disparaging remarks.

People who vent via a public forum may be placing their jobs at risk.

In the past six months, several cases of work termination have been reported on public media forums as a warning to users to be careful what they post on websites.

Such reports include:

  • A UK travel agent who posted comments on Facebook about a colleague, calling her a `‘brown-nosing cow’’;
  • A Newcastle bank employee who whinged about the bank’s customers, and;
  • A British woman who started her post by claiming she ‘hated her job’.

Now, some workplaces are imposing restrictions on employees making comments on social websites, including termination of employment.

Unless someone has strict privacy settings, any and all comments made by an employee are available to the world at large.

Employers also may review job applicant’s Facebook or other social media pages.

Photos, the comments applicants make, and information published about them may help decide whether a person is given a job.

However, there also may be consequences for employers.

Several unfair dismissal cases flowing from comments made on social media have come before the courts.

A Victorian hairdresser, for whom comments posted on Facebook were one of four reasons for dismissal, won her case and was awarded compensation.

Comments of a defamatory nature posted on social media websites also can result in legal action and damages payouts.

As well, following a precedent set in Victoria,persons can now be served through public forums with intervention orders, statements of claim and other legal documents.

For more information please contact our Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution team at Attwood Marshall Lawyers on on (07) 5536 9777.
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Charles Lethbridge

Charles Lethbridge

  • Senior Associate
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Direct line: 07 5506 8240
  • Mobile: 0421 885 195