The Employment Relations Authority has decided that an employer’s dismissal of an employee due to inappropriate social media posts was justified. The employer’s finding of serious misconduct, and subsequent dismissal of the employee, was found to be reasonable.  

The employee worked as a Corrections Officer. During working hours, the employee posted several videos of herself to a social media platform. Some of the videos were of herself in uniform and of a sexual and/or violent nature.

The employee claimed that the videos were intended to be light-hearted as an attempt to relieve the stress of her job. The employee also claimed that she did not realise the videos could be seen by the public, as they were only meant for friends and family.

After receiving complaints from the public and other employees, the employer launched an investigation into the matter. The employee removed the videos, but the employer found that harm had already been done to the facility’s reputation. As well as this, the employee had put herself at risk by identifying her place of work and profession in a public manner.

To dismiss the claim of unjustified dismissal, the Authority had to find that the employer’s procedure was fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.

The Authority decided that the dismissal was justified in this case, as the employer had held several meetings with the employee regarding the incident. The employer also provided a letter of dismissal, where the employer both considered the employee’s submissions and outlined clearly why dismissal was necessary, as well as providing reasons as to why alternatives were not appropriate. These reasons included breach of social media policy and the risk to the safety of the employee and others.

The Authority dismissed the personal grievance claim, deciding that the dismissal was justified.

It is important to be aware of the necessary process when dismissing an employee. If you are unsure of your obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

 

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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors