In the cautionary tale of Juli Briskman, what you do outside your office can have an impact on what happens inside. While the presidential motorcade carrying Mr Trump overtook , Ms Briskman raised her middle finger in protest while cycling. This was photographed and later used by Ms Briskman as her social media profile picture. Her employer, a government contractor, saw this as a breach of their social media policy, and dismissed her.
Being fired due the content of your social media is an old anecdote, but how can an employer take issue with what you do in your personal life?
Before continuing, it should be noted that an employee without two years’ service can be dismissed without need to follow any procedure. Once employees have two years’ continuous services (aka the qualifying period), an employer can only dismiss them by following a fair dismissal procedure.
An employer must have a potentially fair reason to dismiss, and the employer must have acted reasonably in treating such reason as a sufficient justification. In Crisp v Apple Retail and Preece v Wetherspoons, both Claimants had posted negative comments online either about their employer or their clients. Since both Claimants were provided by their employers with social media training, the Employment Tribunal upheld the employers’ decision to dismiss the Claimants, as their online misconduct had brought their companies’ names into disrepute, lowering the reputations of their respective organisations, colleagues and customers.
Respecting work commitments and personal convictions is a diplomatic balance. Here is some guidance so to enjoy your weekend while maintaining professional standards:
First: know your company’s HR policies, particularly regarding social media, misconduct, and disciplinary procedures. Any future investigatory/disciplinary meetings may depend on the training and knowledge your work has provided. Abide and act accordingly within these policies.
Secondly: review your online privacy settings and public information on all your platforms – keep a control on what data you have been and are putting out.
Thirdly: think before you upload – if it’s online, it’s there forever. Ensure your posts are factual, fair, and a positive representation of you and those associated with you.
Finally: protest peacefully. The Human Rights Act protects freedom of assembly and association, with restrictions permissible if they are lawful and necessary in the interest of national security or public safety. Avoiding violence and preventing crime and disorder allow protesters to publicly and safely state their position in a democratic society.
In the world of social media, “what happens in Vegas” now goes on Instagram so be mindful of your online activity and how it may be interpreted by an employer.