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Tribunal OKs Apple's firing of employee in Facebook case

Gross misconduct verdict against staff member who posted negative comments about Apple on Facebook upheld

A tribunal has upheld Apple's decision to fire an employee who posted negative comments about the company on Facebook, it has been reported.

The employee, known only as 'Crisp', was sacked for making comments on Facebook that were seen by one of the employee's Facebook friends - a fellow Apple Store employee - who reported them to management.

The posts had been marked 'private' and Crisp appealed the decision, but at a tribunal in Bury St Edmunds the sacking was upheld. The case took place in August but details have only just emerged.

Crisp argued that the right to privacy in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights covered the comments made on Facebook but the tribunal disagreed, deciding that there was nothing to stop Crisp's friends copying and re-publishing the comments.

Jamie Hamnett, an employment partner at the Addleshaw Goddard LLP law firm, wrote about the case on the People Management website. "Apple had a clear social media policy in place and had made it absolutely plain throughout the induction process that commentary on Apple products, or critical remarks about the brand, were strictly prohibited," Hamnett wrote.

"The decision serves as a word of warning for employees who use social networks. Once posted, it will be difficult to show the necessary degree of control over Facebook comments as - by the very nature of the internet - these may be copied and passed on with ease. They are unlikely to attract privacy protection even if the user's privacy settings limit their circulation."

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