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Employee sacked for Facebook comments

The outcome of a recent Fair Work Australia (FWA) decision has highlighted the importance of putting in place and consistently reviewing internal social media policies.

In Glen Stutse versus Linfox Australia Ply Ltd [2011] FWA 8444~ FWA ordered the employer to reinstate an employee who had been dismissed for making comments about his managers on his Facebook profile.

The employee had been employed as a truck driver by Linfox from 1989 until his termination in May 2011 after management became aware of comments he had made online which criticised his managers.

Linfox alleged that the comments made by the employee included a threat of physical violence, a suggestion that Linfox managers had acted in a dishonest, inappropriate and/or underhanded manner, comments of a sexual nature about his female manager and comments about another manager's religion and Muslims generally. In reference to these two managers, one posted comment stated:

"You can call it a bit of professional courtesy, I admire any creature that has the capacity to rip [the managers'] heads off, shit down their throats and then chew up and spit out their lifeless body! "

The reasons given by Linfox for the termination of the employee's employment were that, on the employee's Facebook profile page, which was open to the public, the employee:

Made a number of statements about one of his managers that amounted to racially derogatory remarks; a statement about one of his managers which amounted to sexual discrimination and harassment; and made extremely derogatory comments about your managers.

The employee maintained that his Facebook account was created with maximum privacy restrictions' and was not at the time open to the public'. He denied having made any extremely derogatory comments' about his managers and maintained that his record with Linfox during his 22 years of service was unblemished.

Click here for more details on this case or contact Aitken Legal

Author: Lynne Brook, Brook Personnel - Article compliments of Aitken Legal