UK employment tribunal upholds Apple’s termination of retail worker over Facebook post

“Social media can create opportunities for business, but the associated risks are also becoming clear as employees turn to Facebook and Twitter to let off steam about their jobs. Employers are increasingly asking themselves how best to protect their image and reputation online,” Jamie Hamnett reports for People Management Magazine. “This recent employment tribunal case provides useful guidance for employers on how to prevent employees making damaging statements on social media and how to respond if such behaviour comes to light.”

“Crisp, who worked in an Apple Store, posted derogatory statements on Facebook about Apple and its products. The posts were made on a ‘private’ Facebook page and outside of working hours,” Hamnett reports. “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.”

Hamnett reports, “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.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Attribution: AppleInsider. Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Edward Weber” for the heads up.]

33 Comments

    1. Yes, and he is free to say anything he wants now.

      But there is not guarantee that I (or any company) have to pay you a salary, particularly if you constantly say unfavorable things about me.

    2. … commonly refers to the GOVERNMENT’s ability – or lack there-of – to limit a citizen’s right to say what they please. Within certain well-defined limits. No yelling “FIRE” in a theater if there IS no fire, for example.
      The company set certain reasonable limits on “employee speech” during the hiring process. The employees can choose to turn down those restrictions, and the job, if they want. This employee accepted the terms.
      Sounds like I approve, yeah? I don’t. But I do recognize that it’s legal. It would be great if those “certain reasonable limits” were laid out in law, limiting a company’s ability to restrain their employees’ speech. But, most “representatives” owe a considerable debt to corporate interests and are not willing to offend those entities.

    3. The UK is a bit different than the US. The bar for slander is very low there, in order to protect celebs and the Royals. I wrote a harmless comment once in a UK newspaper website, and they sent me an email that it wouldn’t be published because it could be slanderous!

      Also, ads have to be completely unambiguous. Apple ads that we take for granted here, have had to be altered for the UK, even though Apple is the only advertiser that shows the actual iOS devices functioning, while all the others show “simulated screenshots”.

    1. Seems that Apple has no problem with “a person” venting… but to become “an employee” you give up a few of those rights. Seems like a fair exchange if you want a nice paying job where you just get to stand around and talk to people and help them acquire wonderful devices.

      But, of course, it’s doesn’t surprise me that Generation E (the Entitlement generation) seems to think that they deserve everything with no sacrifices. Personal responsibility? Who woulda thunk that it matters?

    2. you can vent all you want, whenever you want, But, probably the company you work for would not like to see or hear you say that’s a shitty place and everyone sucks in the company. you’re just bad mouthing the company which pays you. i know i wouldn’t like to hear or see something like that. and that kind of stuff as already hapened hundred of times, due to twitter mostly

    3. Freedom of speech means you dont go to prison and lose your freedom (or life) by government action when you say something.

      The constitution does not say that there wont be other consequences such as losing your job or someone killing you.

    4. The guy could have bitched about Apple to his friends over beer all he wanted. The problem is when he published his negative comments on a website for the public to see. Article says that Apple had a social media rule as part of their Terms of Employment. The guy clearly broke the rule and then is amazed at the consequence. To demonstrate his total self absorption he goes on sue in court instead of accepting responsibility for his own action.

    1. You know I am getting the impression that many of the people posting have never had a real job (perhaps students??)
      Ok… here is a life lesson; You can’t badmouth the company you work for and expect to keep your job.

      Company’s are’t entities. They are teams of people, organized to provide a service and, or produce something that will (hopefully) make them all a living. When you no longer believe in what the group (company) is doing you should get out and go somewhere else.

      Sheesh, WTF are they teaching in schools these days…

  1. I don’t entirely agree with this, but when you make posts and invite all your “friends” to look, don’t be bitter when it bites you in the ass. I blow off steam about my job to friends and not on FB where people can show the print and show the boss. People should be more social and less digital.

    1. If I was the boss in question, and an employee came to me and said this to me in private, that interaction might very well have a happy ending.
      I would be very curious as to why any employee of mine would feel that way, and I’d have a conversation about it, looking for a resolution that would benefit the employee, other employees, and ultimately, me and my company.

      However, if an employee of mine ever posted this on Facebook and it was not obviously in the context of humour, it might indeed, end badly.

    1. Nicholas,
      Think of a company like a group of friends that are getting together to do something (doesn’t matter what that is).
      Now, imagine that one member of the group was constantly saying bad things about the others in the group and/or what you had accomplished. Another in the group became aware of his constant badmouthing, should he not tell any of his other friends in the group?

      The bottom line is if you don’t like the company you are in, get out and go join another. There is zero excuse for badmouthing your organization (while you just remain there) and most organizations (justifiably) have little tolerance for it.

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