Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

A recent case in the Employment Tribunal highlights the problems that Facebook usage can cause for both employees and employers.

In Whitham v Club 24 Ltd. t/a Ventura the Claimant (Ms Whitwam) worked for Club 24 Ltd as a team leader. Club 24 Limited provided customer services for Skoda, part of the Volkswagen Group. This was an important contract for Club 24 Limited. The workforce at the Claimant’s workplace consisted of both Volkswagen Group and Club 24 Limited employees. The Claimant had previously had a clean disciplinary record at Club 24 Ltd.

On 14 September 2010 the Claimant (after an apparently “difficult day at work”) the Claimant posted on her Facebook account “I think I work in a nursery and I do not mean working with plants”. One of the Claimant’s former colleagues then posted a message on the Claimant’s ‘profile’ suggesting that the Claimant worked with “a lot of planks”. The Claimant replied “2 [sic] true”. At this time the Claimant had only approximately 50 friends on Facebook and had set her privacy settings so that those who were not her “friends” on Facebook could not see her messages.

The Claimant’s line manager was subsequently informed of the messages. He believed that the messages were “unacceptable” and proceeded to commence a disciplinary investigation. The Claimant was subsequently summarily dismissed for potentially harming the Respondent’s relationship with Volkswagen and for a breach of confidentiality (relating to her suspension).

The Tribunal found that the Claimant’s dismissal was unfair. The Claimant wasn’t complaining about Volkswagen but about her working conditions and the people that she was working with. It also considered that such “mild comments” that the Claimant had made would not have in reality resulted in Volkswagen terminating its contract with the Respondent. There was no evidence of any pressure from Volkswagen and it was found that the Respondent’s failure to obtain the views of a manager at Volkswagen was unreasonable. Further, the Respondent had failed to reasonably consider alternative sanctions such as demotion and failed to put that option to the Claimant. They further found that the Claimant would have accepted that alternative should it have been put to her. The Claimant also had strong professional and personal mitigating circumstances. The Tribunal therefore found that the dismissal was outside the range of reasonable responses. However the Claimant was deemed to be 20% at fault.

This case emphasises a number of points for both employers and employees:

Employees

  • Be careful of what you post on Facebook (obviously!)

Employers

  • Employ a social media policy. This is essential.
  • Ensure that your employees are aware of the existence of and terms of the social media policy.
  • Ensure that your employees are aware of the terms of your confidentiality policies
  • Ensure that you conduct your investigatory and disciplinary policy fairly
  • Take into account the views and mitigating circumstances of any employee in relation to any allegations

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Our awards

Request a callback

Your first name (required)

Your last name (required)

Your email (required)

Your telephone number (required)

Brief details of your enquiry

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.75 Average

193 Reviews

Mark W

Most professional from start to finish offering very a personal service. Most impressive and quick when dealing with the matters in hand.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Posted 3 weeks ago

submit

I am very glad I came across Redmans Solicitors. Fantastic service!

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Fantastic communication, always happy to answer queries, highly recommended.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Wavenie B

They were very straight to the point, friendly and understanding people. I felt they had my best interest. They were easy to get hold of, replies were almost instant. 5/5 for customer service

Posted 3 weeks ago

Christina P

Caroline was fantastic to work with - extremely knowledgeable, supportive, thorough and honest. I definitely recommend Redmans!

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Very well done and fast support. Professional and reliable. Highly recommended!

Posted 3 weeks ago

Helene L

They were very knowledgable in the respected area in terms of change in law/regulations that is crucial for the clients who are seeking for legal arvice.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Sara R

Very helpful and wonderful advice

Posted 3 weeks ago

Marie D

very good service all digitalised

Posted 3 weeks ago

Philip H

Chris Hadrill handled my case with great accuracy and efficiency. Basically made it feel like a process without hassle. Doesn't try to expand the case just for greater fees. I value his professional advice highly.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Michael W

Professional, responsive and supportive - excellent service!

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

I was really happy with the service provided. I had to chase a couple of time but despite that, my matter was dealt with in a timely manor. I would use again in the future

Posted 1 month ago

Lee M

Superb service and always available

Posted 1 month ago

Jonathan S

I was very grateful for the support I received from Redmans during a very difficult period. Rana Tandon really got under the skin of my issue and understood what was important to me, steering me carefully and sensibly to an outcome I was very happy with. I would recommend Redmans to anyone else without any reservations whatsoever.

Posted 1 month ago

Mohamed A

Super helpful and efficient, trustworthy service

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

efficient, responsive and effective

Posted 1 month ago

Andrew B

Very good service

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Excellent service, compassionate and a good outcome

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I had an employment issue which required legal advice. Chris was very supportive and knowledgeable, resulting in an optimum resolution in my favour. Would definitely recommend.

Posted 1 month ago

David M

Very professional and first-rate advice. I would use again. With thanks,

Posted 1 month ago