Employee’s Facebook fallacy

By | January 30, 2013

Social networking forums have become the modus operandi of connecting, meeting and communicating for billions of people worldwide. Employees, however, need to realise that what is said in a supposedly private setting online often isn’t as private as intended, as has been highlighted in the recent case of Taiapa v Te Runanga o Turanganui A Kiwa1.

After requesting one week’s leave without pay to attend a sporting championship and being granted only three days by his employer, Mr Taiapa reported in sick claiming he had damaged his calf muscle and was unfit for work. Regrettably for Mr Taiapa, a colleague saw him leaving town with his family and his employer became aware of a photograph on Facebook showing Mr Taiapa smiling and giving the thumbs up with ‘a large female sitting on his knee’.

After an investigation and based on a number of factors, Mr Taiapa was dismissed for serious misconduct by dishonestly taking sick leave. The Employment Relations Authority concluded it was open to a fair and reasonable employer to view Mr Taiapa’s actions as dishonest and that they undermined the necessary trust and confidence required in the employment relationship.

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Copyright, NZ LAW Limited. Editor: Adrienne Olsen. E-mail: adrienne@adroite.co.nz. Ph: 029 286 3650.

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