Social Association #4: safe, not sorry

Social Association #4: safe, not sorry

Although there are many factors to consider before an employer can discipline an employee for Social Media misconduct there are scenarios that could qualify as legitimate grounds for dismissal. Think twice about venting about your employer on Social Media.

The question as to what constitutes grounds for dismissal in terms of Social Media misconduct is not an easy one to answer. One would think that what an employee does after work generally falls without the scope of the employment relationship and that an employer would accordingly not have a right to discipline an employee for their action outside of the working environment. However, this has proven time and time again to be wrong, if it can be proven and/or shown that there is a nexus between an employee’s personal conduct and that of the employer’s business there exists a cause for an employer to discipline an employee. This is effectively known as off-duty misconduct.

Posts or content that contain derogatory, derisive or disparaging remarks and or comments about the employer and the business which brings the employer’s name and or business into disrepute or portrays them in a negative light constitutes grounds for dismissal.

Some aspects that need to be taken into consideration when making a decision in relation to disciplining or dismissing an employee for their Online misconduct, such as whether or not there was a public outcry over the post and whether or not the employee was as fault in making the statement, whether the employee’s conduct has caused irreparable damage to the employment relationship and if the employee’s conduct is so morally reprehensible that it leaves the employer with little to no choice but to dismiss the employee.

That said employers need to be mindful that while dismissing an employee for conduct on Social Media might be lawful it is not always the appropriate response and it is important to bear in mind that the misconduct by the employee must effectively render the continued employment intolerable and the correct procedure for dismissal must be followed.

– By Denis Warren-Tangney, BProc LLB.
Warren-Tangney Attorneys and Mediators.