Be careful with Facebook, SA firm warns

2011-03-25 12:25

Johannesburg - If employees post disparaging messages about their jobs on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter they could be fired, a law firm warned on Friday.

"The reality is that an employer is entitled to take disciplinary action against an employee (including dismissal) where the employee's private actions negatively impact on the on-going employment relationship," said Johan Botes, director in the employment practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr business law firm.

This had recently happened in SA.

"It was reported that the previous head of the Market Theatre Laboratory, Matjamela Motluong, has been dismissed from employment following his anti-Semitic rant against Jewish producers in the South African Theatre industry," said Botes in a statement.

"Motluong's dismissal follows on the heels of outrage caused by racist Facebook pages, the dismissal of an employee for making disparaging remarks against his manager and the suspension of an employee for punting the competition's products, all on Facebook."

Not private

Employees' communication outside their working environment was not viewed as completely private, he said.

"An employee cannot expect to assault his manager while they are attending a social function after hours and get away with it.

"Employees should similarly appreciate that their communications on social networking sites can also have a bearing on the on-going employment relationship, even where such communication takes place outside of the workplace and using private computers."

Botes said it was the effect of the communication that was important, more than where or when it was communicated.

Postings on social networking sites or communication via e-mail might be meant for a select group of people, but once it was posted, the poster loses control.

"The minute you posted it you effectively surrender control over how and where that message is distributed afterward."

Botes said employees who use social networking sites or e-mails to rant should not expect any sympathy from employers or the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration if these communications turn up in unwanted places.

"This is especially true for those who communicate abhorrent message of anti-Semitism or racism.

"The golden rule for any employee thinking about sending a message or posting a comment on Facebook should be 'If you would not like to see this message in the newspaper tomorrow, do not post it'."

  • Gorilla - 2011-03-25 13:09

    Facebook can get you a vyshoek...

      ekke - 2011-03-25 14:26

      you mean vuisboek?

      ekke - 2011-03-25 14:27

      vuishoek, sorry :)

      Gorilla - 2011-03-25 15:14

      Sorry man my afrikaans is not so delicious.

  • werner.coetzer - 2011-03-25 13:20

    What if I claim the account in question is a case of identity theft? How many "Justin Bieber" or "Paris Hilton" accounts is there. Not to say its all them...

      Thor - 2011-03-25 13:29

      agreed, you can always say it wasn't you and someone used your account.

      Gorilla - 2011-03-25 13:34

      Just be careful... you might end up in further trouble: " your honour, that is not what I said, I said... "my boss's account..."

      GeneralCS - 2011-03-25 14:12

      That's fine, however it then depends on how anal your employer wants to get. If s/he really despises you they could launch an investigation to prove that the account actually is yours. Fortunately Facebook is American and a South African company requesting information like IP address logs won't be easy.

      werner.coetzer - 2011-03-25 14:17

      I used my gmail account details to open my FB account. Again, anyone can open a gmail account as long as the details seem to be of a valid type. No money or paper trail that can prove its defnitely you that create or even use that account.

      GeneralCS - 2011-03-25 14:31

      Please don't be fooled by anonymity. If you work for a small company then the likeliness that your employer would go through the trouble of finding your guilty is slim to none. However, if you're working for a large enough company that you bring into disrepute, and you're a suspect, the company could go as far as getting a court order to have a forensic investigator look at your PC and/or phone. The IP address will point back to you proving that you posted the comment. Obviously, this would be an extreme case, but know that it's possible.

      deejojo - 2011-03-25 16:25

      except for the fact that i highly doubt someone else is going to fill their profile with albums of your pictures, with you at the U2 Concert, and you at your Grannies 80th, and you at the zoo with your kids...

  • Bonita Barendse - 2011-03-25 14:05

    facebook is meant for communication..if you're going to communicate to your friends how terrible your job or employer is on facebook why on earth have you added him/her as a friend.. some companies ban social network at the office..i fully agree..switch off from virtual reality and go outside..

  • GeneralCS - 2011-03-25 14:14

    Certain American companies have already been requesting access to potential employees social networking accounts as part of the security check process. Personally I'd never work for a company that requests such information. However, if you're already employed by a company you are under no obligation to provide your employer with such personal information unless there is a court order to do so.

  • Rapier - 2011-03-25 14:18

    Just Google your "nom de plume" on THIS site, and you will be amazed at how visible you are on the Internet.....not only Facebook & Twitter.

  • Alice - 2011-03-25 14:22

    If employees do not like their employers, they are parasites, and deserve to be fired.

      GeneralCS - 2011-03-25 14:34

      I've got to disagree. I don't know of anyone who goes to work because they like it or their employer. "If you hate your job, don't strike. Go in every day and do it really half-assed. It's the American way." - Homer Simpson

      mercutio9 - 2011-03-25 14:47

      Alice they do not have to like you they just have to do their job. If you want them to like you then pay them to like you. If they do not like you and they do their job would you call them parasites? If they do like you and do NOT do their job then they are gatkruipers (this strategy is very successful in corporations I might add, and this bunch are whom I call parasites).

      Collen - 2011-03-25 14:56

      I disagree as well. Alice, there are bullshiting bosses out there. There are people who feel like quitting their jobs but pity they have bills to pay.

  • draadsitter - 2011-03-25 14:38

    simple rule: Don't post anything that you wouldn't want displayed on a banner across Table Mountain. I seen two friends fired because of vleisboek activity and have since made tailored access settings to all work-related "friends" on my profile.

  • Vince - 2011-03-25 14:50

    So this counts also when ones manager or higher position post something saying his employees are not the greatest he has worked with.. I believe if it works one way it should also work the other way.

  • Collen - 2011-03-25 15:02

    Just do your job (you get paid for that), even if you don't like your manager. I'm sure there won't be any problem if the boss finds out that you don't like him or her, it'll be between you and the boss- keep in mind though that the boss calls the shots, so be ready to deal with it.

  • Bonita Barendse - 2011-03-25 15:03

    remember the lovely saying "the walls have ears" doesn't matter if you're inside or outside the internet...some way or other it will be revealed...and we've got wikileaks to prove it..ha!

  • Javeed Chogle - 2011-03-25 19:41

    whatever happened to my RIGHT of speech ? Right of expression ? This is a very small way of controlling the employees of any company. If a company is working with integrity and honesty , they have nothing to hide .............or do they ?

      Brett123 - 2011-04-03 08:55

      You have the right to bear arms too. It's what you DO with them that matters. Don't confuse your rights for an open license to cause harm to someone or something else.

  • geri.stengel - 2011-03-27 17:17

    Emphasizing yet again that companies must put policies in place and train employees before the employees log on. Throughout the article, the emphasis was on employees who somehow mar the reputation of a firm or its management. Does the same apply to executives whose bad behaviour becomes public knowledge? Or is this only about social media rather than media and behaviour in general.

  • bobo.jane.1 - 2012-07-04 21:01

    Every single bloody morning I greet the boss... U can`t be late...C`mon time is money..No time for lunch today, sorry you also missed breakfast..power nap my,work,work for yourself is the worst boss of them all, only me can fire me. - LOL.

  • Simone Colbert - 2013-03-16 21:22

    facebook can really get you vuishoek LOL, Tha why im on

  • Bertha Yolanda - 2013-03-16 21:26

    Heya simone u said That new social community are not bad at all for a brand new community, I just jointed it a week ago.

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