Dismissal Over Osama Selfie Unfair
An employment tribunal has found that a dairy worker who was given the sack after he posted a selfie of himself wearing an Osama bin Laden facemask at work was unfairly dismissed by his employer.
Robert Mazur, who was employed as a lab technician at a dairy plant in Devon and had seven years service, stated that he had only put the mask on for a few seconds prior to his start time and then had posted the photo on his Facebook page as a ‘joke’ and in an attempt to relieve some of the tension of working alone in a sealed room. However, the selfie inadvertantly also showed the partially visible logo of the Company.
When the matter was brought to the Company’s attention they found the images to be ‘clearly offensive and in bad taste’. Mr Mazur was subsequently found guilty of gross misconduct by the Company on the grounds of bringing the Company into disrepute and was summarily dismissed.
Although Mr Mazur’s dismissal was found to be unfair, the Exeter tribunal unanimously ruled that Mr Mazur had contributed to his sacking by his “foolish” actions. Accordingly, it ruled that damages, which will be awarded at a later date, will be cut by 60%.
Cases of employers taking disciplinary action against employees are becoming increasingly common due to the widespread use of social media. In order to prevent falling foul of such cases, Companies should therefore ensure that a fair hearing takes place into any disciplinary matter, preconceived ideas about an individual’s actions are not made and that any action taken is proportionate and fair. Where it is decided that an employer’s reputation has been damaged, there should be evidence of this. Finally, it is becoming increasingly important that policies surrounding the use of social media are clearly communicated so that employees are in no doubt as to an organisation’s expectations and standards.