Recommend Print

Managing people

Facebook Rant Gets Worker Fired, Social Media Policy Warning For Employers: Legal Matters

Work-related Facebook rant gets worker fired

By Michelle Hammond
Thursday, 18 August 2011

Legal experts say employers should set clear guidelines for the use of social media, after a man was fired for posting a work-related rant on Facebook outside of work hours.


Damian O’Keefe, a former employee of The Good Guys in Townsville, was dismissed after using Facebook to post an expletive-filled rant against a manager on his day off.


Fair Work Australia heard that O’Keefe’s employer sacked O’Keefe after interpreting his comments as a threat to operations manager Kelly Taylor.


The employer argued there was a direct link between O’Keefe’s Facebook post and his place of work.


O’Keefe lodged an unfair dismissal claim, arguing his Facebook profile was set to the maximum privacy setting and The Good Guys was not mentioned in the post.


But of the 70 people who could see O’Keefe’s comments, 11 were co-workers.


FWA deputy president Deirdre Swan said O’Keefe engaged in serious misconduct, dismissing his unfair dismissal claim.


“The fact that the comments were made on the applicant’s home computer, out of work hours, does not make any difference,” she said.


“The comments were read by work colleagues and it was not long before Ms Taylor was advised of what had occurred… The separation between home and work is now less pronounced than it once used to be.”


According to employment and commercial law firm BlandsLaw, the case should serve as a warning with regard to the use of social media among workers.


“The lesson for employers is that such postings could be in breach of an employee’s conditions of employment where there is a clear definition of what is acceptable in the context of social media, and what the consequences are when those conditions are breached,” the company says.


“The solution for employers is to ensure their suite of policies and procedures ensures a social media policy.”


“Have a clear policy about the use of social media by employees, and ensure employees are aware of the consequences of posting comments on social media sites that may concern the employer.”


The policy should address:

  • The nature of control over social media use. For example, a total ban, limited use or total accessibility.
  • Who the policy applies to.
  • Authority limits or restrictions for use including permission required, content pre-approval, etc.
  • What can or cannot be discussed on social media forums.
  • What logos, icons and ideas can or cannot be published on social media forums.
  • What disclaimers or other information must be included when participating in a social media forum.
  • The nature of behaviour that is acceptable or unacceptable
  • When it is and isn’t acceptable to use or participate in a social media forum.
  • Consequences of breaching the policy.

Comments (0)

Subscribe to this comment's feed

Write comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

Invalid Input

Follow us

StartupSmart on Twitter StartupSmart on Facebook StartupSmart on LinkedIn

Subscribe to StartupSmart RSS feeds


  • Manufacturing Resource Efficiency – A Forum for SMEs
    Discover how using your resources efficiently can lead to long term success for Australian manufacturers.   VECCI and Enterprise Connect would like to invite ...

  • B31: Ballarat Business Month
    B31: Ballarat Business Month – a month of dedicated small business events, workshops and seminars held in and around Ballarat – 1-31 August.   For up-to-date ...

  • Small Business Speedy Solutions
    Topline business tips in minutes. Mobile hubs showing short sharp videos on key small business issues and topics – metro Melbourne and regional Victoria t...

  • Small Business Heroes Exhibition: The Retailers
    Free, colourful and inspiring photographic display featuring candid images and stories of successful small business owners who are taking an innovative or...

  • Small Business BIG Marketing
    An inspirational and practical half day event incorporating seminars from leading business marketers, marketing services expo, networking opportunities and...

Sponsored Links

Our Partners

  • Docklands development half sold in two weeks on market
  • Houses leap in size in Top End
  • Garry Lyon fails to sell Hawthorn home at weekend auction
  • Sydney publicans eager for taste of Newcastle hotel
  • Heritage buildings can now shoot for six green stars