A Norwich man has been was fired from a job he’d worked for four years, after ‘liking’ a photo on Facebook. Worse, his employers dismissed him by text. This story serves as a reminder of the increasingly invasive presence of employers on the social media activity of their staff.
Troy Garrod was at home one evening, scrolling through his Facebook newsfeed, when he noticed a colleague had liked an image of a man wearing a quite astonishing wolf fleece. The female coworker had uploaded the following image and caption:
“OMG I’m fucking crying … I’m sure there’s a wolf fleece appreciation page pahahaha”
(Incidentally, there are whole pages on Facebook devoted to the phenomenon of the wolf fleece.)
70 other people had liked the image and Garrod thought no more of it.
But a few days later, he received a text informing him that he was fired with immediate effect. It turns out that the image was the coat of a fellow employee and the act could be constituted as bullying.
What is most bizarre, is that the colleague who posted the image in the first place received no more than a suspension.
“I felt really hurt and angry and all my former colleagues think what happened is ridiculous.Being sacked by text and email is not right after four-and-a-half years of hard work. I put my heart and soul into that company and enjoyed going into work every day. It just seems so unfair that clicking the ‘like’ button has caused me so much trouble.” Garrod told LADbible.
“When people go on their Facebook timeline they don’t view it professionally, you think it’s just your social time. I want to warn people to keep work and social divided on Facebook – be careful about befriending colleagues.”
We await further details on the case before second-guessing an employer protecting a staff member from bullying, but we also caution readers to remember that their social media activity is public and employers are increasingly basing hiring and firing decision upon it.
A 2013 survey by Acas found that 45% of those involved in hiring staff were already screening candidates by viewing their social media profiles. By the end of last year, a similar study by found that the figure had shot up to 93%, meaning virtually anyone who is hiring today, is checking the social media profiles and activity of candidates.
But it’s not just before you’re hired that bosses could be monitoring your social media activity. Business Insider compiled list of 17 people who were fired for similar reasons to Troy Garrod; some for taking funny pictures at work, some for talking about their jobs on Facebook when they got home, some for putting up ill-advised images of themselves.
Some companies in the US have taken this even further and demanded the passwords for the social media accounts of potential and current staff. In fact, the US government had to pass a federal law to prohibit it.
The bottom line, Facebook may at times feel like a personal space, but it isn’t.
Featured Image via Facebook
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?