Employees can be subject to discipline based on social media posts about an employer.
The law in this area is evolving, but there are more and more cases about this in Ontario.
Many employers are developing and implementing social medial policies, but many still do not have those in place, leaving it uncertain what expectations there are in the workplace about employees referring to their job or workplace on social media.
Employees should use caution if they post anything about their job on social media – it is increasingly widespread and often comes to the attention of the employer.
This is especially important if there is a termination of employment – both employees and employers should be very cautious about posting any comments on social media expressing negative feelings about the termination or each other generally. Often these types of posts can surface as evidence in Court cases and impact the outcome.
Another recent example of an employer trying to discipline an employee for social media posts – Centre de la petite enfance Allo mon ami c. Le Syndicat de la Nouvelle Union (CSQ), 2015 QCTA 749. This is a Quebec arbitration, but the principles are consistent with Ontario’s approach to this area of employment.
In that case, the employer both reprimanded and suspended the employee briefly because the employee had “liked” a comment on the employee’s own Facebook page that arguably was negative towards the employee’s employer.
The Arbitrator in the case (the employee grieved the disciplinary suspension) held the suspension was inappropriate, but agreed that a written reprimand was appropriate by the employer (which forms part of the employee’s employment record).
Think carefully before using social medial to express comments about your employer, particularly if they are negative in nature. Generally, social media is not the best forum to air issues about employment, even if they are passing, innocent comments by an employee, not intended to be negatively perceived. On social media, posts can take on a life of their own, which may not be controllable by the employee and may snowball into disciplinary consequences.
This WARDSPC BLAWG is for general information only. It is not legal advice, or intended to be. Specific or more information may be necessary before advice could be provided for your circumstances.
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