open search
close

Italy – Facebook comments can be valid grounds for dismissal

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Italy

Facebook is one of the essential communication tools of the digital era, but it can also be dangerous for employees who use it carelessly, as a recent Italian Supreme Court decision has confirmed.

Facebook has grown significantly over recent years. It now connects billions of people worldwide, all of whom are sharing information, posting comments and photos and liking each other’s posts. Facebook makes our world much easier. But whilst most people use it to connect with friends and post photos of their holidays, for some, Facebook is a way to express their feelings, which are sometimes negative, about a public body, a company, a politician or… their employer. These people probably believe that the number of readers they reach is so low and the impact of a post is so insignificant that their actions will have no negative consequences for them.

But that is not accurate, and a recent judgment by the Italian Supreme Court (no. 10280/2018) gives a perfect example of how posts or comments on social networks can have real consequences for the person who made them, even for an employee using Facebook outside the workplace.

In the court case in question, an employee was dismissed (for just cause) as a consequence of a rude and gross comment posted on her Facebook profile and directed against her employer, despite the fact that she did not disclose the name of either the company or her boss.

The employee challenged her dismissal, claiming that she was disabled and very stressed and the post on her Facebook profile was just the result of an outburst that she believed was reaching a limited audience; she had no intention of denigrating her employer.

The Supreme Court rejected the employee’s claim, pointing out that posting messages on a Facebook profile has the potential to reach an undefined number of readers and this could raise concerns when the content of the message is negative.

The Supreme Court ruled that denigrating the company for which an employee works and insulting his or her boss on a personal Facebook profile, even without naming them, constitutes defamation, given the large audience that the message may potentially attain thanks to the reach of the social network. This action breaks the relationship of loyalty and trust between the employer and the employee and, as a consequence, justifies the dismissal of the employee for just cause.

To conclude, employees can justifiably be dismissed if they post defamatory comments on Facebook even if they have no intention of causing damage to their employer but simply underestimate the size of the audience they could reach. This is because negligent behaviour can also cause a breakdown in the relationship of trust and loyalty between employee and employer, as it is an action so serious that the employment contract cannot continue, even on a temporary basis.

Verwandte Beiträge
Internationales Arbeitsrecht Neueste Beiträge

Can an employer in France dismiss an employee for private Facebook content? Yes, if there is no subterfuge

The French Cour de Cassation has confirmed that an employer could dismiss an employee based on a private Facebook post that breached her confidentiality obligations, because the way it had found out about the post did not involve subterfuge or trickery.   Background In April 2014, an employee working in sales in the clothing company Petit Bateau attended a fashion show presenting the future spring-summer…
Internationales Arbeitsrecht Neueste Beiträge

Employees have a right to annual leave or payment in lieu between illegal dismissal and reinstatement, ECJ rules

The European Court of Justice has ruled that for the period between an unlawful dismissal and reinstatement as an employee, workers are entitled to annual paid leave or to payment at the end of the employment relationship in lieu of leave accrued and not taken. Background In these joined cases a Bulgarian school employee and an Italian bank employee were dismissed. These dismissals were subsequently…
Corona Internationales Arbeitsrecht

Italy introduces new health, safety and economic support measures to manage the coronavirus epidemic

Italy has put in place a range of new measures to contain the COVID-19 virus and provide economic support.  A Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers (DPCM) approved on 22 March 2020 saw the Italian government introduce further measures for the containment and management of the COVID-19 health emergency. These measures will apply nationwide. The government’s further intervention became necessary in view of the latest developments in the…
Abonnieren Sie den KLIEMT-Newsletter.
Jetzt anmelden und informiert bleiben.

Die Abmeldung ist jederzeit möglich.

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert.