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In Crisp v Apple (UK), Mr Crisp had been employed by Apple (UK) and he was dismissed for gross misconduct having been found to have written a number of derogatory comments on a "private" Facebook page, outside working hours. One of his Facebook "friends" saw the comments, printed them off and obligingly passed them to the store manager.
Interestingly Mr Crisp had not mentioned Apple's name directly, but the employment tribunal decided that his friends would have been likely to know where he worked. This suggests that the tribunal made a blanket assumption which had not differentiated between those Facebook friends that may have been mere acquaintances and may not have known who his employer was.
However, Mr Crisp's unfair dismissal claim was dismissed. A fundamental reason for this was because Apple had a clear social media policy in place and they had stressed throughout the induction process that commentary on Apple products, or critical remarks about the brand, were strictly prohibited. Interestingly the tribunal took into account that such comments would be particularly damaging for Apple, as image is so central to its success.
This sends out a clear warning to employees about the dangers of documenting their working lives on Facebook. It is crucial for employers to have a social media policy for employees, whether to prohibit Facebook and twitter at work or control its use professionally or privately. This will ensure that employers will clearly define the parameters for the use of such social media tools by employees.
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