Q. I’ve become aware of an employee making disparaging remarks about my business on social media. What can I do?

A. Hopefully you’ve got a documented social media policy in place that the employee has signed, and addresses this issue. If not, implementing a social media policy is a great place to start.

You should schedule a meeting with this employee to discuss the matter, allowing them to bring a support person if they chose to do so, and referring back to any relevant clauses in the employee’s contract and the social media policy. It would be a matter of putting the allegation(s) and any supporting evidence to the employee and providing the employee with the opportunity to respond.

Depending on the outcome of the conversation it could be grounds for disciplinary action. It could be grounds for a formal warning, but is almost certainly NOT grounds for instant dismissal.

A classic example of this point in action is the unfair dismissal case of  Stutsel v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd, where, in summary, the long-term employee had made disparaging remarks about two of his managers on his Facebook page and was subsequently terminated, after investigation.
The dismissal was found to be unfair, because, amongst a variety of reasons, the employee claimed (and it was accepted) that he believed his social media settings were on private, and that the comments were likened to ‘blowing off steam’. Crucially, at the time, the employer did not have a social media policy in place to clearly set out acceptable and unacceptable practices.
If your business doesn’t have a social media policy in place, get in touch with our team to discuss your business needs.

* This is general information only and doesn’t take your specific circumstances into account.