Why NOT to Accept Your Manager’s Friend Request

Nov 22, 2010

The flood gates have opened for lawsuits with the announcement of what is being called the first clear case of a Facebook firing in Canada.
The Montreal Gazette reported that two car detailers in Pit Meadows, BC were recently fired for derogatory comments they posted on Facebook.  After the unionization of the store in August, the store manager of West Coast Mazda, decided to start tracking online comments made by employees.    Although the timing of the firing seems suspicious, given its close proximity to the unionizing, the BC Labour Relations Board rejected the union’s notion that the workers were fired because of anti-union sentiments by management.  Mazda Manager John Clysedale was pleased with the decision, and explained that management is in the process of creating a new policy that covers what is and isn’t acceptable Facebooking.
This case is particularly interesting because the manager was “friends” with the two employees on Facebook, and received their status updates on his Blackberry.   The Board found that certain comments made by the car detailers amounted to insubordination, and created a hostile work environment.  There have been many cases of employees being fired for defamatory blogging, and even “tweeting”, so it was only a matter of time before Facebook found its way into the courts.  Cases like the Alberta Oil Sands Blogger underscore the much needed mindfulness that employees should have when sharing their work life with the online community.  The new insight that this case provides is that the list of offences an employee can commit from home will continue to grow with the increasing popularity of social media.
In Daniel Lublin’s article, “Facebook postings can come back to haunt employees” , he explains that, “many employees too easily confuse freedom of speech with freedom from workplace consequences.”  If you have ever used Facebook to talk about work, it is worth giving the article a read, as it provides helpful guidelines that could save your job.
The next time you have an argument at work, and pull out your phone on the transit ride home, think twice before adding your boss to Facebook.

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