Employee fails in unfair dismissal claim after derogatory Facebook comments

MoJA former Apple employee has failed in his claim for unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal after he was dismissed for making allegedly adverse Facebook posts.

Mr Crisp worked for Apple Retail (UK) Limited – the famous consumer technology company – from September 2009 and 10 December 2010. In September 2010 Mr Crisp asked for a transfer to the US but this was rejected. In November 2010 a colleague of Mr Crisp’s drew Mr Crisp’s manager’s attention to the fact that Mr Crisp had made several Facebook posts which may not put Apple in a good light, such as the following posts:

  • “Once again fuck you very much work”
  • A reference to his “jesusPhone” and complaining about problems locating the Royal Courts of Justice, as well as complaining about having no signal
  • “”MobileMe [an Apple app] fucked up my time zone for the third [time] in a week and woke me up at 3am? JOY!!”
  • “Tomorrow’s just another day that hopefully I will forget” – a reference to Apple’s advertising tagline of “Tomorrow is another day. That you’ll never forget”

Mr Crisp was subsequently summoned to a disciplinary hearing on the grounds that the Facebook posts for bringing the company into disrepute, an allegation that Mr Crisp disputed. He was dismissed for gross misconduct on 10 December 2010 and made a claim for unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal, alleging that his Article 8 human rights had been infringed as Apple had unreasonably breached his right to privacy.

The Employment Tribunal found in Apple’s favour in the claim for unfair dismissal, holding that Mr Crisp was or should have been aware that posting the type of comments that he did about Facebook could amount to misconduct. The Tribunal also found that he should have been aware of comments of such a nature could damage Apple’s reputation and bring the company into disrepute.

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This is a common type of case in the Employment Tribunal now – employees should be extremely careful as to what they post on social media regarding their employer and, further, employers should take extreme care to ensure that their policies, procedure, and training cover comments on social media.”