It was held by an employment tribunal in a recent case that an employer was vicariously liable for unwanted comments relating to an employee’s sexual orientation posted on his Facebook page by colleagues. The comments in this case were untrue but nevertheless caused the employee embarrassment.
What does this mean?
Employers will be liable for discriminatory acts by their employees towards colleagues if such acts ‘fall within the course of employment’, unless the employer can show that it took ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent the acts from happening. The employment tribunal was satisfied that the acts in this case fell within the course of employment because they were done at work, during working hours and involved dealings between staff.
What should employers do?
Employers should have a social media policy which should be clearly communicated to all staff and should discipline staff who breach the policy.