Public Nature of Twitter could Justify Dismissal

social_media

In the case of Game Retail Ltd v Laws UKEAT0188/14, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (“EAT”) has suggested that, Twitter is more public in nature than Facebook, making dismissals relating to offensive tweets easier to defend for employers than a similar facebook status.

This case concerned an employee of Game Retail Ltd, Mr Laws, who tweeted a number of “personal” tweets containing expletive and obscene language. Mr Laws was immediately dismissed for gross misconduct and went on to raise a claim for unfair dismissal.

Whilst the Employment Tribunal upheld Mr Laws’ claim for unfair dismissal, the EAT found that the tribunal had failed to take account of the public nature of Twitter particularly given the fact that Mr Laws was followed by 65 of his employer’s stores.

The EAT declined to comment generally on dismissal for misuse of social media; however, there is much that employers can take away from this case from a practical perspective. Employees should be reminded that personal and work related accounts should be created separately and employers need to be explicit about their expectations as to the use of social media and the ramifications of any misuse.
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