More employees terminated for FaceBook postings

The divide between work place responsibilities and private time has become further blurred as employees’ FaceBook and other online postings are being monitored by their bosses. The number of terminations of employees for their inappropriate postings is expected to grow as more teenagers who have grown up on social networking move into the workforce. They have different views on what can be texted and posted in public.

Some of these employee terminations have been highlighted in the media after the terminated employee has contested the decision at employment tribunals. However, most of the decisions have gone against the employees, including:

  • A barman who was on two days sick leave over New Year posted photos of himself celebrating the New Year with friends. The boss saw the photos online and terminated him despite the barman having a medical certificate
  • A new clerical employee griping that the work was dull and mundane. A supervisor spotted the online comments on FaceBook and she was terminated

These incidents suggest that employers are beginning to pay serious attention to what their employees do and write online. A study by Proofpoint, an Internet security firm in the US, found that 17 percent of medium to large size companies in the US reported having issues with employee’s use of social media. 8 percent of these companies reported having terminated employees for their online behaviour on sites such as FaceBook and LinkedIn.

Other findings of note from the study showed that:

  • 15 percent of surveyed companies have disciplined an employee for violating multimedia sharing / posting policies
  • 13 percent of surveyed US companies investigated an exposure event involving mobile or Web-based short message services
  • 17 percent of surveyed companies disciplined an employee for violating blog or message board policies

With the advent of sites such as Wikileaks exposing thousands of confidential messages between US diplomats, we have to recognise that there is a possibility that sometime in the future our own emails, reports, photos or postings may become public. In an effort to avoid an embarrassing or career jarring incident, it is advisable to:

  • Be aware that any messages or reports created during worktime is behind the corporate firewall and there’s a good chance that anything you do write is being logged or monitored
  • Keep your comments general and do not divulge any corporate information or personal likes / dislikes which you wouldn’t discuss openly at work
  • Remember that others may retweet your comments or post photos without your knowledge [or permission] so keep the common sense flowing when you post.

Are you seeking assistance with an Employee Misconduct matter or computer misuse problem? If so, we at Regents can help you – just visit our Employee Misconduct Webpage for further information