Anna Leach reports:
Apple was right to fire an employee of one of its UK stores for saying rude things about the company on his Facebook wall, an employment tribunal in Bury St Edmunds ruled.*
The tribunal judge upheld Apple’s dismissal of the man for gross misconduct in a case which sets another precedent for social network users who like to bitch about work online.
The Apple Store worker had made derogatory comments about Apple’s brand and products on his Facebook wall. Although his posts were not public, one of his unfriendlier “friends” – also a colleague in the store – printed the comments out and showed them to their boss, who fired the man for misconduct.
Read more on The Register.
One of the key elements of the case was that Apple had a clear policy in place so it is not liked the employees weren’t forewarned about conduct on social media. The second key element was that even using “private” setting on Facebook does not protect the employee because it’s so easy for “friends” to copy and paste “private” messages that Facebook users/employees cannot really invoke Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
So how does that play out for students in schools, posting from their home on their own time? Freedom of expression seems to be shrinking as employers and schools establish policies and justify limiting speech off-hours.
One Response to “Apple was OK to fire man for private Facebook comments”
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Interesting situation. An employer of mine in the 90s called me into HR to have my wrist slapped. It was over a rather silly situation that no one felt good about, but HR felt the need to have something done (it was internal criticism about the company’s new product – fairly harsh, but humorous criticism – that came to light when a manager forwarded email from an employee’s address to her own). As part of the wrist slapping someone decided to put in a clause into the document stating that I would not be allowed to discuss the company in any negative manner. I refused to sign with that clause in it because it required me to give up my right to free speech. The HR person (a temp…none of the regular HR people wanted to be involved in this) demurred and removed the clause before I signed it. Today, such a thing might get me fired and that is justified? Seems ridiculous. (I do note the difference…that in my case it was internal, company email and this was a posting on Facebook, but still…)