Shanghai Courts recently appear to have become more willing to accept information posted on social media as evidence in employment disputes, as reflected in several recently reported employment cases decided by the Shanghai Huangpu District People’s Court.
In one case, an employee was terminated for unexcused absence from work totalling more than 8 days within a half year period. To prove the employee’s absenteeism, the company produced several pieces of evidence, including the employee’s travel photos she posted on her Weibo account (a social media platform, similar to Twitter) showing her travelling dates and locations. The court accepted such evidence and ruled in favor of the company.
In another case, an employee filed a claim against the company after it refused to sign a written employment contract with her. She provided evidence to prove her employment relationship with the company, including her company badge, her bank remittance records, and a record of her conversation with her supervisor on Wechat (another social media platform similar to WhatsApp), in which they discussed business expense reimbursements. The court admitted the evidence produced by the employee and ruled in her favor.
Under the PRC Civil Procedure Law, electronic data was specifically added as one type of admissible evidence in the most recent series of amendments made in 2012. The above cases demonstrate that electronic information on social media platforms may be recognized as evidence in an employment dispute by at least some courts. It should be noted that the authenticity of electronic data evidence can still be challenged by the opposing party in a dispute, in which case, special preservation procedures for electronic evidence (such as notarization) may be necessary.