ERA backs employer over facebook firing

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A childcare centre manager fired for 'liking' a negative Facebook post about her employer highlights the need for having social media policies for employees, on and off the job.
 
Rachel Blylevens was dismissed by Kidicorp in Tauranga last May after working for the company for more than two years.

As reported on Stuff.co.nz, Blylevens 'liked' and commented on a number of posts about her employer on the social network and engaged an advocate, Rachel Rolston, to help her with the posts. Among other things, Rolston described Kidicorp in posts as a “toxic” environment and accused the company of “corporate bullying”. 

Kidicorp’s investigation found that the employee’s actions breached its media and social networking policy and led to a loss of trust and confidence.


According to Employment Relations Authority member Rachel Larmer, the fact that Blylevens 'liked' the posts meant all her Facebook friends could see it in their newsfeed and the audience for those was virtually unlimited. 'Liking' the posts, according to Larmer, meant an endorsement of the opinions expressed in those comments.

Simon Young, CEO of social media company syENGAGE, says the case of Blylevens is an example of how social media is “well-entrenched as a way of life and ignorance of its features is no excuse”.
 
Young points out that the Facebook controversy was “just the tip of the iceberg” and “not the sole reason for terminating” the employment but highlighted the importance of abiding by the employer’s social media policies.
 
“From a risk mitigation point of view, this means that social media knowledge is everyone's responsibility, and enlightened employers should lead their employees in becoming upskilled in the use of social media,” adds the social media expert.

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