The world is becoming ever more digital. We are spending more time on social media, and this is leading to court cases as people disagree over its use. In recent years there have been numerous landmark social media lawsuits that have had a profound impact on how social media can be used within your business.
Here are some of the most important social media lawsuits for you to know about and what you can learn from them.
Dismissal For Social Media Activity – Kiernan versus A Wear
Work and social media are conflicting. In 2012, a case was brought against A Wear by Kiernan for unfair dismissal. Kiernan, a long-standing employee with a good employment record made a comment on social media site Bebo about her boss. The comment was seen by a customer and passed onto the company’s HR department.
From there, the employee was dismissed but the employee took the company to court over unfair dismissal. The employee won the case on the following reasons:
Constructive Dismissal For Seeking New Opportunities – Flexman Versus BG Group
John Flexman, an HR manager at BG Group, created a LinkedIn profile and indicated on his online CV that he was open to new opportunities. BG Group complained that Flexman breached their social media policies by uploading his CV to the site and ticking the ‘careers opportunities’ box. After a disciplinary hearing, Flexman resigned and claimed constructive dismissal as his relationship with senior executives had broken down.
The UK courts ruled that Flexman had been constructively dismissed based on how the company handled the case. However, the court didn’t mention about the fair use of social media for employees.
Freedom of Speech: Bland versus Roberts
Six employees were dismissed when they ‘liked’ the Facebook page of a candidate opposing their boss. The employees took the company to court after they claimed that the dismissal violated their free speech. The Federal Appeals court agreed with them; stating that Facebook likes were protected by the First Amendment.
Ownership Of Data: Whitmar Publications Ltd Versus Gamage
Four senior employees of Whitmar decided to set up a publishing company but used LinkedIn contacts from Whitmar’s account before their employment ended. The high court ruled in favor of the company stating that the LinkedIn information was part of the confidential information of the company and should not be abused by employees.
However, this is against the terms and conditions of LinkedIn, which stated that “ownership” of an account is personal to the account holder.
Social media is becoming a major part of our everyday lives. As such, you need to take precautions to protect your business from the complications of its use. For instance: