Tag Archives: unfair dismissal

Crisp v Apple Retail – Importance of a Social Media Policy

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.

Facebook, work, unfair dismissal and choosing friends carefully

I’ve got a difficult, self imposed rule. I’d rather not be Facebook friends with work colleagues or clients. It’s not because I put anything on Facebook thats dodgy, immoral or edgy. It’s mostly food and my daughter. But I just don’t want everyone to know everything.

So it was with interest that I read about the employment tribunal case of Whitham v Club 24 Ltd t/a Ventura (with thanks to Wedlake Bell via Lexology)

Mrs Whitham was employed by Club 24 Ltd as a Team Leader for their client Skoda which is part of the Volkswagen group. After a particularly trying day at the office Whitham commented on her Facebook page “I think I work in a nursery and I do not mean working with plants”. A colleague responded to this post which prompted Whitham to reply “Don’t worry, takes a lot for the bastards to grind me down. LOL” An ex-employee then commented “Ya, work with a lot of planks though!!! LOL”, to which Whitham replied “2 true xx”.

Club 24 commenced disciplinary proceedings and Whitham was dismissed, mainly because they felt the comments could have damaged the relationship between Club 24 and Volkswagen. The justification for this was that the Facebook profile from which Whitham wrote her comments stated that she was an employee of Skoda UK, which, while not strictly true, could suggest that the employees of Skoda UK are at best, young, and at worst, infantile.

The Tribunal decided that she had been unfairly dismissed since sacking her for what they felt was a relatively mild comment on Facebook fell outside the band of reasonable responses. They noted that the comments on Facebook did not specifically refer to a client nor was there any evidence of any actual or likely harm to the relationship.

Now, the thing is she will still have lost her job albeit she now has some compensation.

Choosing your Facebook friends is important and so is having the right privacy settings. If a friend comments on your status, and your boss is friends with that friend, then on default settings your boss will see your post.

Equally on Twitter on must be careful to realize that all tweets are public and any replies get shown on your public timeline. So visit twitter.com/smather21and you’ll see everything I’ve don on Twitter. So when you think you’re replying to someone, know it’s public.

Having a social media policy as an Employer is an absolute must have for your employee handbook. Having one means that employers can set down in writing their expectations and employees know what they should and shouldn’t do.

Unfair Dismissal

The Government’s new enterprise tsar has suggested that increasing the length of service requirement to 2 years continous service from the one currently needed to bring an unfair dismissal claim would increase employment and help businesses out.

It wouldn’t do either.

Sure, all business would prefer to be able to sack an employee “just because”, but the idea that this is a benefit is misguided.

In my opinion, the 1 years service test should be removed. I see absolutely no reason why employees should be able to be dismissed without a fair reason.

It’s unfair to employees when their company turns round and says, Lord Sugar style, You’re Fired, without it being fair.

To increase the service requirement to 2 years will mean that an employer could sack an employee without cause. This would be devastating for the economy and unemployment already on the brink of collapse.

It would also increase discrimination claims now under the Equality Act, and that just means more litigation, more cost and more problems.

First day in the job for Lord Young, let’s see how he does through his probation period.

Steven Mather
Solicitor

Footnote: this post is typed on my phone, so apologies for spelling mistakes. Steven Mather is a Disputes Solicitor currently available for work.