It may be fair to dismiss an employee for posting offensive tweets on a personal Twitter account in the employee’s own time, depending on the facts.
In this case the employee had allowed his tweets to be publicly visible and had also permitted 65 of his employer’s stores to follow him on Twitter such that their staff and potentially customers could be reading his tweets. On these facts, the tweets could not be considered to be private. The EAT also considered that there was no requirement that tweets actually cause offence if they might do so, nor is it a requirement that the tweets contain derogatory comments about the employer. Whether dismissal is within the range of reasonable responses and therefore fair will depend on the facts.
The case serves as a reminder to employers to review their social media policies. Clear expectations should be set out as to the use of both personal and work-related social media and the potential sanctions for breach. (Game Retail Ltd v Laws)