Personal use of social media can constitute misconduct

The use of social media to communicate an employee’s views about issues of interest to him or her can be dangerous if the employee strays into territory which is related to the workplace, or can be seen to adversely affect the commercial reputation and standing of the employer, or indeed illustrates flaws in the judgment of the employee which can damage the credibility of the employee in the eyes of the employer. Little v Credit Corp Group Limited t/as Credit Corp Group [2013] FWC 9642 is case about just that. Mr Little published the following observations about a company which had commercial dealings with his employer when he posted on Facebook.
 
“For reals bro, you should put a little more of funding into educating consumers on how the world works rather than just weaseling them out of debt, blah blah blah, give a man a fish/teach a man to fish.’
‘No thanks, just take my advice and try to educate people about things like ‘interest’ and ‘liability’ rather than just weasel them out of contracts. #simple”
 
And then another post about a colleague about to join his employer.
“On behalf of all the staff at The Credit Corp Group I would like to welcome our newest victim of butt rape, Jack Hoye. I’m looking Forward to sexually harassing you behind the stationary [sic] cupboard big boy.”
 
The Fair Work Commission in a claim for a remedy for unfair dismissal rejected Mr Little’s assertion that his conduct was in his own time and was of no business of his employer because he had not named his employer in the post with Deputy President Sims observing “the applicant is perfectly entitled to have his personal opinions, but he is not entitled to disclose them to the ‘world at large’ where to do so would reflect poorly on the Company and/or damage its reputation and viability… the fact the applicant made both Facebook comments in his own time is of no consequence. It was not when the comments were made which is important, but the effect and impact of those comments on the respondent, its other employees and on the new employee.”