Dismissal for “Bashing Your Boss” in a Private Group Chat?

A recent case in the UK has the courts considering whether insults against your boss in a private WhatsApp group can be cause for dismissal without notice. In this case, a group of co-workers ran a private chat where they regularly bashed their boss. However, these employees went as far as allegedly making racist, sexist and ‘inhuman’ comments against their boss. There were also talks of physical violence, such as “punching in the face”.

When Do Private Chats Cross the Line for Wrongful Dismissal?

When the employer found out about this group chat, the employees were immediately dismissed without notice. The employees dispute that there was cause for dismissal, as the chats were private and therefore should have been protected. They believe this is a wrongful dismissal case. Who is right?  While this case is going through the courts in the UK, Canadian case law has touched on similar topics.

Cause for dismissal is the capital punishment of the employment law world. It requires significant misconduct that goes to the root of the employment relationship. Run of the mill griping about a boss in a supposed-to-be private chat will almost certainly not amount to cause for dismissal in most cases. However, when the comments escalate to very serious misconduct like racism, sexism, and violence, the odds of proving cause for dismissal will increase.

As with all cases, the outcome will depend on the circumstances of the case at hand. However, employees should take a lesson to not expect privacy in correspondences between colleagues. While venting after a stressful day is common and understandable, insults around race, sex and violence could put your job at risk.

Why Legal Advice Matters for Understanding Employment Rights?

To better understand your employment rights, we encourage employees to seek legal advice. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

Author – Rachel Pattern