The importance of having a well written Social Media Policy has come to light in an Employment Tribunal case reported by People Management.
In the case, Crisp v Apple, Crisp worked in an Apple Store. He posted derogatory statements on Facebook about Apple and its products. The posts were made on a “private” Facebook page and outside of working hours. One of his colleagues, who happened to be a Facebook “friend”, saw the comments, printed the posts and passed them to the store manager. Crisp was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct.
The employment tribunal rejected Crisp’s claim for unfair dismissal. Key to the tribunal’s decision was the fact that Apple had a clear social media policy in place and had made it absolutely plain throughout the induction process that commentary on Apple products, or critical remarks about the brand, were strictly prohibited. Interestingly the tribunal took into account that such comments would be particularly damaging for Apple as image is so central to its success.
If you compare this case to the Club 24 case, involving an employee working for Skoda, the key difference was a clear social media policy. In that case, the employee successfully argued unfair dismissal and yet in the Apple tribunal case it was not unfair.
I could not find what the actual comments that Crisp said and so presumably it was more than just “lol too true” like in the Whitham case and so my guess is that the seriousness of the comments were also taken into account.
That said, I believe it is crucial for firms to have a social media policy for employees, whether that’s to prohibit Facebook and twitter at work, allow it, control it’s use professionally or privately.
If you need help drafting a social media policy for your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch.