Internet and Email Risks at Work

Online and e-mail risks at work

An employment tribunal has held that the dismissal of an employee for making derogatory comments about her workplace on Facebook was unfair. The comments were "relatively minor" and there was nothing to suggest that the employer's relationship with a key client had been harmed or jeopardised as a result. The employer had failed to take into account the employee's exemplary employment record and mitigating circumstances.

Although the decision is not binding, the case suggests that employers will not always be able to rely on the assertion that their reputation may be damaged by offensive remarks, but should instead make some attempt to assess the risk of harm. In this case, that would have involved speaking to the client whose goodwill it considered at risk.

Businesses should make sure they investigate matters involving social media thoroughly, and not have a "knee-jerk reaction" to comments that have a derogatory element.

This checklist highlights the risks a business and its employees should be aware of when using the internet and e-mail at work, sending work-related e-mails or discussing the workplace on the internet.

For further information, please speak to our Employment Law Team.

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