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Your employee slated you on Facebook - here's the legal action you can take

by , 11 December 2015
There was a case a little while back... An employee was fired for calling his boss a 'serial masturbator' on Facebook. There have also been employees suspended for posting Facebook updates their employers considered unacceptable. But what's the correct procedure you should follow if you catch your employees making malicious statements about your company?

Let's have a look at the legal steps you can take against your employees to prevent it from happening in your company...

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Your employees can only make statements they can prove are true!

Your employee can make statements in private, or on social networking sites, if he can prove they're true. I don't even want to think about how the above employee attempts to prove his boss is a serial masturbator!

They can't use the defence that what they do in private time is freedom of expression. If it's relates to you or your company, it's not!

Employees can vent privately; to their partners and friends in conversation, but if they take anything into the public domain, it's slander. This is defamation of your company, which means a breach of their common law duty to you to uphold the company's reputation and not bring it into disrepute.

Remember, it doesn't matter if your employee makes the comment in his own personal time or on his personal computer: If he makes false, defamatory statements in the public domain, you can take action.

Let's see exactly what steps you should take...

 
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The legal process you can take for employees who use social media to gripe about the company

Employees who make malicious statements are guilty of unlawful conduct. This can lead to civil or criminal claims in some cases.  

If you want to take disciplinary action, you should also hold a disciplinary inquiry. If the employee is found guilty, you can take disciplinary action which, in serious cases, can include dismissal.

3 Ways to prevent employees complaining about the company on social media
  1. Remind employees of your company's grievance policy: they must deal with their gripes against the company, internally;
  2. Block Facebook (and other social networking sites) at work. It won't stop them from visiting them at home, or on their phones at work,  so emphasise that you'll still take action against them if you discover they're making slanderous remarks against your staff or company; and
  3. Institute a workplace policy to stop employees from bringing the company into disrepute in their private time, irrespective of how they do it (e.g. it could be a salesman wearing a shirt with your company logo who gets into a drunken brawl, or an employee who bad-mouths you or another colleague). Drive home the point that the Internet is a public domain and you can use anything an employee posts on the web against him.
Keep an eye on Facebook and other social media and take these legal steps if you see anything that might damage your company.
 

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