An Employment Tribunal has recently backed JD Wetherspoons in dismissing an employee, Ms Preece, for posting negative Facebook comments about some customers. This was despite the customers having previously been abusive towards her.
Ms Preece had also argued that she was entitled to a fundamental right of freedom of expression (Article 10 European Convention on Human Rights). However the Tribunal decided that JD Wetherspoons’ right to protect its reputation was more important in this case.
The Tribunal decided that the abusive conduct of the customers in question had happened some time ago, and was not raised formally with the company, but had been dealt with in a humorous way on Facebook. Wetherspoons had also made it clear in their Staff Handbook that such postings would not be allowed.
As Wetherspoons’ Staff Handbook backed up the decision to dismiss in a significant way, employers should make sure that theirs is up to date, and covers the new social media.