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    Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

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    Waireka
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    Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  Waireka on Sat Apr 04, 2009 12:14 am

    Firms who discipline or sack staff for comments made on Facebook and Twitter could be acting illegally in Australia, says a veteran lawyer.

    Stories about NSW Department of Corrective Services threatening to sack prison officers over Facebook posts and Telstra disciplining employee Leslie Nassar for Twitter comments have provoked a series of other examples.

    They include a reader who says he was fired from his job at a "large corporate bank" for using the word "recession" in his Facebook profile.

    A teacher also complained she was disciplined over comments she made about being bullied.

    But Steven Penning, a partner with Australian law firm Turner Freeman with two decades of experience in workplace law, says employers may be acting unlawfully.

    He said employment contracts are unlikely to cover staff use of social networking sites.

    "What employers are doing is they're scrambling and trying to make out that present policies can be stretched to cover these new areas, and in many respects they can't," Penning said.

    "If an employer hasn't told people in advance what the rules are, what the conditions are, then that greatly increases the likelihood that an employee can say well, I can't be terminated for this because I wasn't aware that this is something I was not to do."

    He contrasted this with the clear policies surrounding the use of work internet access and email that staff were made aware of as soon as they signed up.

    The growth of social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace has meant people are having private conversations they would have at the pub in an online setting.

    However, Penning said this was no longer considered private comment because the discussions are published and distributed publicly.

    A 27-year-old Australian woman, who did not want to be named, said about six months ago her employer - a large online technology company - started disciplinary action against her over a "generic" comment she wrote on the Facebook wall of a friend, who did not work at the company, outside of work hours.

    She said she wrote something along the lines of "he's such an anally retentive a**hole", without naming any individuals or the company. A manager at the company thought the comments were referring to him and refused to back down on giving her an official warning, so she quit her job.

    She claims she was "managed out" of the company, which went on a "witch hunt" and manipulated her comments to suit its own agenda.

    "There should be some sort of transparency with regards to what you can do and what you can't do ... employers should not be using Facebook or MySpace or Twitter for their own management issues or to try and find dirt on their employees," she said.

    Yesterday, this website revealed the NSW Department of Corrective Services is threatening to sack prison officers over posts they made to a Facebook group criticising the cash-strapped State Government's plans to privatise Parklea and Cessnock prisons.

    It comes after a Telstra employee Leslie Nassar was reprimanded for comments he posted on his blog and Twitter.

    Penning said most employment contracts and policies had rules against speaking to media, but these were different from posting comments on social networking sites.

    "The first thing that needs to be done is a thorough audit of all of their policies, employment agreements and contracts to determine if those documents refer at all to social networking controls and social networking obligations, and that's the first step," said Penning.

    "It's not about total control ... it's saying that you're not using the sites or saying things on the sites which are damaging to the organisation that you work for."

    Penning cited the example of three scantily clad Californian teens who were fired from their jobs at KFC late last year for publishing photos of themselves on MySpace bathing in a KFC basin.

    "Something like that is damaging and has the potential to be very detrimental to an organisation, because it's clearly saying it's not healthy to eat here, our standards are appalling," he said.

    A reader responding to yesterday's story about the NSW prison officers said he was fired from his job at a "large corporate bank" for using the word "recession" in his Facebook profile.

    "Ended up being reprimanded by both my boss and the head of our division, despite not using the company name or having either of them on my friends list. I lost my job shortly after," the reader wrote.

    Another reader said they published a comment on MySpace about being bullied by a colleague, but inadvertently made it public when it was intended to be a private message to another colleague.

    "I received a call from the principal of the school (I was a teacher) 6 weeks after I left my position letting me know that over 400 people had seen the message (including students and parents) and I needed to come back to address the matter," the reader wrote.

    "I spent 5 years working at the school and I won't ever get a reference now ... Everything is public once you put it on the internet."

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/2313442/Aussies-sacked-for-Facebook-comments
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    Waireka
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  Waireka on Sat Apr 04, 2009 12:20 am

    So this sort of happened to me. Some SC member/s printed off comments I'd made about my boss being an illiterate retard and posted them to my boss.

    Thankfully my boss (not the illiterate retard) got the mail and thought it was funny and a bit sad that someone would go to all that effort. He sympathized with my frustrations and all was good.

    TBH, I learnt my lesson and I now see I was walking a dangerous line. When you publicly slag off your boss or your workplace online, it's all googlable (mine didn't have my work name, but there's not many real estate agencies in Wainuiomata) and it's not a good thing for the company to have online.

    I actually think it should be a sackable offence.
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    happycamper
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  happycamper on Sat Apr 04, 2009 2:50 am

    Just goes to show that some people do not have a life. Sucks to the max and its clear these people have nothing better to do. However I have no need to slag my boss online as I do a good job of it in person. Very Happy

    the distant one
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  the distant one on Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:11 am

    I can see both points of view.

    Your facebook profil is your kind of outlet to your friends that ya wouldnt be able to vent to.

    but on the other hand you woudlnt stand outside your workplace with a rather large sign that said "my boss is a fucken wanker"... would ya?
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    master5o1
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  master5o1 on Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:12 am

    facepalm.jpg
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    Waireka
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  Waireka on Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:23 am

    the distant one wrote:I can see both points of view.

    Your facebook profil is your kind of outlet to your friends that ya wouldnt be able to vent to.

    but on the other hand you woudlnt stand outside your workplace with a rather large sign that said "my boss is a fucken wanker"... would ya?

    Laughing Pretty sure if I did that right now a couple of hundred people would come join me...

    But yeah, unless your page is private with no work related people, I wouldn't do it again.
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    frankiec
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  frankiec on Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:32 am

    Most employment contracts will have a clause stipulating that the employee must not do anything to bring the employer into disrepute.

    That covers a rather broad spectrum.
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    Janny
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  Janny on Sat Apr 04, 2009 7:54 am

    frankiec wrote:Most employment contracts will have a clause stipulating that the employee must not do anything to bring the employer into disrepute.

    That covers a rather broad spectrum.

    Yes it sure does.

    My husband had to sack a staff member last year because they were receiving 'joke' emails... their company has "clauses" that cover a wide range of issues, incl non work related emails, facebook, myspace, public forums, accessing the internet on work time etc.
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    relict
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  relict on Sat Apr 04, 2009 8:16 am

    Janny wrote:My husband had to sack a staff member last year because they were receiving 'joke' emails... their company has "clauses" that cover a wide range of issues, incl non work related emails, facebook, myspace, public forums, accessing the internet on work time etc.

    Ouch. Without more details (I'm not asking for them) I'd see that as very much more minor than sending them. Sounds a wee bit harsh, though hopefully the policy was introduced with good reason.
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    Janny
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  Janny on Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:16 am

    there is a clause in their contracts that states clearly that they are not to forward on "joke" emails etc..... as all their emails that leave their computers have their company logo and details on them.
    All email and internet use is recorded then reviewed.
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    relict
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  relict on Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:37 am

    Janny wrote:there is a clause in their contracts that states clearly that they are not to forward on "joke" emails etc..... as all their emails that leave their computers have their company logo and details on them.
    All email and internet use is recorded then reviewed.

    Ah, then that is understandable. You first said 'receiving' which is what I thought harsh (because it is hard to control what people send you), but I'd consider 'forwarding' to be similar to 'sending' - fair enough.
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    Linno
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    Re: Aussies sacked for Facebook comments

    Post  Linno on Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:45 am

    Janny wrote:there is a clause in their contracts that states clearly that they are not to forward on "joke" emails etc..... as all their emails that leave their computers have their company logo and details on them.
    All email and internet use is recorded then reviewed.

    I think there should be a clause prohibiting stupidity.

    I mean it makes sense to be respectful to your employer (even if you have to feign it) and to abide by the rules they have set out when you accepted the job. And if you have issues with your employer, or employment contract, then deal with it through the proper channels.

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