The case of Teggart v TeleTech UK Limited NIIT 00704/11
is an interesting addition to the developing law on misconduct
dismissals in the context of employees' inappropriate use of
Mr Teggart posted a comment on his Facebook page regarding the
promiscuity of one of his female colleagues. The comment was made
outside of work. Attempts by the female colleague to have the
comment removed resulted in Mr Teggart posting a further derogatory
comment about her.
Mr Teggart's employer found out about the comments and
decided to dismiss him for gross misconduct. The basis for the
decision was that it had been brought into disrepute (the rationale
being that the Facebook comments mentioned the employer's name)
and that Mr Teggart had harassed a fellow employee.
The Northern Ireland industrial tribunal held that Mr
Teggart's dismissal was fair in all the circumstances. The
tribunal disagreed with the employer's conclusion that Mr
Teggart had brought it into disrepute as there was no evidence to
support this finding. However, the tribunal held that it had been
reasonable for the employer to find that Mr Teggart had harassed a
colleague via his Facebook comments, and that this charge on its
own was enough to justify dismissal. The vulgarity of the comments,
the further posting and the fact that the comments could be read by
some work colleagues were factors which meant that in this case the
dismissal was a reasonable sanction to impose.
The tribunal also rejected Mr Teggart's argument that his
Facebook comments were protected by the right to privacy under the
European Convention on Human Rights. Mr Teggart had waived any
right to consider the comments as private when he posted them on
Comment: This case shows that employers will in
certain circumstances be able to fairly dismiss employees for
inappropriate social media use outside of work. The decision seems
to be part of a trend whereby the line between employees'
private lives and their relationship with their employer is
becoming increasingly blurred. Employers should deal with this
emerging issue by ensuring that they have a well-drafted social
media policy in place.
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In October 2012, the Court of Appeal confirmed that a Service Provision Change ("SPC") TUPE transfer can only occur where the client who receives the service, before and after the change, remains the same (Hunter v McCarrick  EWCA Civ 1399).