You will have read that one of Great Britain's Olympic medal
hopes, Tom Daley, was subjected to considerable abuse over Twitter,
after finishing fourth in the men's synchronised 10m platform
diving event on Monday. Daley received offensive tweets about his
late father from a Twitter user who has subsequently been
As the use of social media increases, so too does the potential
for harassment through online networks. Employers should be aware
that they could be affected by the actions of their employees
online. Even if the online comments are posted out of working
hours, they may well be seen to be harassment by that individual
and if they are your employee then your company may be vicariously
liable if the recipient is another employee.
Furthermore, the House of Lords decision in Majrowski -v-
Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust in 2006, held that
employers can be vicariously liable under the Protection from
Harassment Act 1997 for acts of harassment committed by an employee
in the course of employment. This has considerably widened the
scope for employees to make claims against their employer where a
colleague has pursued a course of conduct that causes the employee
alarm or distress.
Given the increased use of social media and the difficulty of
controlling how employees interact with each other through its
various forms, employers would be well advised to implement a
detailed policy that regulates the use of social media by employees
both within and outwith the workplace (so far as it may affect the
employer). We have found this to be a particular issue for
employers that engage employees to work unsupervised on nightshift
and have access to the internet as part of their role.
The material contained in this article is of the nature of
general comment only and does not give advice on any particular
matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information
in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice
upon their own particular circumstances.
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