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Facebook, privacy and the workplace

You might have heard about the case in which two car dealership workers were fired for cause after they wrote offensive and harassing messages on Facebook about their employer and managers.

Yosie wrote about it on Slaw.ca last fall.

The case is a few months old now, but no less important in its implications for employers. Terminations based on employees’ use of social media (aka, “Facebook firings”) remain rare in Canada, but you can be sure the numbers will grow. It is likely that there are several such cases before Canadian courts right now.

The primary defence in such proceedings is a strong, clear and consistent social media policy. When preparing your policy, consider these provisions:

  • Explain what social media is and what the policy covers
  • Remind employees about the nature of social media
  • Include non-work usages of social media
  • Remind employees that what they publish reflects both on themselves and the employer
  • Prohibit the violation of laws
  • Prohibit the violation of employer policies
  • Prohibit speaking on behalf of the employer
  • Advise that revisions may be requested
  • Include specific rules regarding the use of social media in a business capacity
  • Advise that the employer will monitor employee usage of social media while at work, if applicable
  • Advise of the consequences of a breach

See the link above for more detail, and find more about how social media are affecting the workplace here on the blog.

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Adam Gorley

Adam Gorley is a copywriter, editor and researcher at First Reference. He contributes regularly to First Reference Talks, Inside Internal Controls and other First Reference publications. He writes about general HR issues, accessibility, privacy, technology in the workplace, accommodation, violence and harassment, internal controls and more. Read more
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