In what is believed to be the first of its kind, a former employee of a gas company is claiming constructive dismissal following a disciplinary after he posted his CV online.
Mr Flexman was employed as a HR professional and was earning a salary of £68,000 a year. He had used the social networking site LinkedIn to post his CV online and in doing so had ticked a box to denote the fact that he was interested in career opportunities.
Mr Flexman believes that the disciplinary procedure centred upon the fact that he had posted his CV online in itself and not necessarily the content of what he had posted. However, his employers claimed that some of the information he had included had breached their newly introduced social media policy. In particular, he had included statistics which claimed that he had reduced the attrition rates of the company and he had also ticked the 'interested in career opportunities' box available on the site.
In response to the above, Mr Flexman argued that the information concerning attrition rates was publicly available anyway since it was included in the company's annual report. In addition, he argued that 21 of his colleagues had also ticked the 'interested in career opportunities' box on the site and had not been subjected to any kind of disciplinary procedure. Mr Flexman was informed by his manager that he must immediately remove the above information from his profile on the site. He felt that this request was over the top and for that reason believes that he was forced to leave his role. He resigned in June of last year.
Mr Flexman's employers clearly feel that they have done nothing wrong, perhaps because they feel they had followed their new social media policy. Whilst this might be the case, it will be interesting to see exactly what that policy involved and whether or not it will be considered reasonable. The case raises more questions about the impact of social media and it use by workers. As the lines between a personal and professional profile on these sites seems to becoming increasingly blurred many companies are being forced to seriously think about how to manage the reputation of their business through their employee's online activities. The situation could lead to some interesting debate surrounding an employee's right to private life and the fact that a person's job should not take over the rest of their life, unless perhaps, they are deemed to be in too public a facing role for the two not to mix?