We’ve all been told to watch what we post on social media while we’re employed.
Israel Folau’s sacking from Rugby Australia is the latest example of social media posts having consequences in the workplace, but one Aussie employment lawyer, Josh Bornstein, has warned some employers might be taking things a little too far.
Bornstein, the principal lawyer at class action litigation firm Maurice Blackburn, said social media sackings were a “dramatic infringement on our personal rights” and warned it’s only going to get worse.
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Bornstein’s represented Angela Williamson, who was sacked from Cricket Australia for criticising Tasmania’s lack of abortion procedures in public hospitals on Twitter.
He also represented Scott McIntyre, an SBS reporter who was sacked over a series of Anzac Day tweets describing Australian Diggers as murderers, rapists and thieves.
In the wake of Folau’s sacking, Bornstein called for the federal government to amend the Fair Work Act so no one could be fired for social media posts that were unrelated to their job, and didn’t advocate illegal activity or violence.
“The terms of codes of conduct and workplace policies now require employees to effectively be brand ambassadors on a 24/7 basis, and to comply with requirements that Jesus Christ wouldn’t have been able to comply with if he still moved amongst us.
“If Jesus Christ still moved among us, he would be unemployable,” Bornstein told the ABC.
Bornstein told the Daily Mail, social media contracts deprived employees of their freedom outside of work, forcing them to constantly be on their best behaviour.
What do we do about it?
Bornstein said the only way to address the problem is to introduce laws that eradicate or limit social media clauses in employment contracts.
“It [social media clauses] encourages vigilantism,” Bornstein told the Daily Mail, by which he means aggrieved third parties pressure companies into sacking staff over their social media posts.
“Instead of the organisation having the spine to say, ‘It's not a matter for us, go away’, they capitulate and sack the individual.”
And it comes from both left wing and right wing activists, so ultimately, employees can’t catch a break.
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