In a world dominated by social media and where your opinion can be heard by millions of people, it can often be tempting to post whatever is on your mind. Whether this is to garner likes or spark a debate, the reason for sharing, or sometimes ‘oversharing’ on social media comes down to a basic human need for recognition. But sometimes, your opinion or words can be recognised negatively by the last person you’d want; e.g. your boss.
Posting angry, obscene or racist opinions on social media, has resulted in a number of people being fired from their jobs.
Here’s a potential scenario you could get yourself into:
Your boss finds your page and doesn’t like what you post? Can you be at risk of being fired for what you put on social media sites?
Laws introduced prohibits employers from discriminating against prospective or current employees based on information on the employee’s social networking sites relating to their race, colour, gender, nationality, age, disability, and immigration or citizen status.
In essence, if you post something which is to be considered “controversial” or “not safe for work”, there’s a strong chance your boss could stumble across it and, depending on how offensive the post is deemed to be, they may have no further option, but to dismiss you.
Unfortunately, it seems that many employees and especially young people today, are unaware of the legal implications for what they post online. According to research from Wiggin, it was revealed that 46% of 18- to 24-year-old’s were unaware that they could be taken to court for tweeting an unsubstantiated rumour about another person. Does their need to be more education and campaigning for awareness on this issue? We think so.
The right to privacy is protected by article 8 of the European convention on human rights. UK law also protects the privacy of individuals from the state and other private individuals on social media. The act concentrates on the protection of health or morals. We reiterate the importance of watching what you put, as what you think isn’t offensive, may be offensive to someone else.
Here is an example of an inappropriate post:
Justine Sacco was consequently sacked for her Twitter outburst.
Complaining on social media could land you in court:
55-year-old Lesley Kemp, took to Twitter to vent her frustration. In her tweet, she claimed that a Middle Eastern company, Resolution Production, failed to pay her promptly for some transcription work she carried out for them. After her initial tweets were ignored, she tweeted out to business tycoons: Alan Sugar, Theo Paphitis and Duncan Bannatyne in a bid to name and shame the company that she believes showed a complete lack of professionalism.
As a result of her outburst, Mrs Kemp found herself in the middle of a messy legal battle that could set her back a staggering £100,000. Mr Kearns’ solicitors hit Kemp with a claim form stating that the businessman had lodged a libel action against her over the allegation, citing defamation.
Mrs Kemp says with the pending legal fees she will still be out of pocket by £10,000 – all over a bill for £150.
However tempting it might be to take to social media to vent your anger or make a controversial joke, remember that once you have pressed send, your words are no longer within your control. Even if you delete a post, the damage may have already been done.
If you are going to vent your anger or displeasure about your work, company, colleagues or management on social media, just remember that your boss or company might end up seeing what you say! Our recommendation is not to do it … step away from the keyboard.
Here at Oakwood Solicitors, we’re not your average law firm – our team delivers a service which caters to you. From assessing your case through to completion, our staff have not only the knowledge and expertise, but also the compassion and understanding to put you at ease throughout the process.