Mr Teggart posted a comment on his Facebook wall about A which made reference to their employer Teletech and A's sexual morals. A, whilst not Mr Teggart's Facebook friend, became aware of the comment and asked Mr Teggart via his girlfriend to remove the comment. Mr Teggart was not pleased with this intervention and gave A short shrift, again via his Facebook wall. A was told of this comment by her friends and was upset. One of A's colleagues approached a manager at Teletech who spoke to A. A confirmed her upset at the comments. Mr Teggart was suspended pending an investigation and made a further comment on his Facebook wall stating that he neither liked or disliked A and was not going to apologise.
Mr Teggart was dismissed for gross misconduct including harassment and bringing Teletech into disrepute. Mr Teggart argued he had been unfairly dismissed and his human rights to privacy and freedom of expression had been breached. The Industrial Tribunal upheld the dismissal as fair, falling within the band of reasonable responses. Further, given the postings were on Facebook pages to which members of the public had access, there was no breach of privacy nor did freedom of expression allow Mr Teggart to make comments which damaged the reputation and rights of others.
This is one of a series of cases on social media misuse in the workplace and is a useful reminder of the dangers of comments made on social media websites. Further, where the comment makes reference to the employer and an employee complains, employers can and should investigate the complaint and take disciplinary action if appropriate. The case also illustrates the value of having a comprehensive social media policy to provide clear guidelines for employees.