Importance of a Social Media Policy is demonstrated in recent tribunal case

A reminder to employers of the importance of having an effective Social Media Policy in place was demonstrated in a recent Employment Tribunal case between Otomewo v Carphone Warehouse Ltd.

Mr Otomewo was a Manager in a Carphone Warehouse store. Whilst at work, two of Mr Otomewo colleagues took his phone without his consent and used it to post a status update on his Facebook page saying “finally came out of the closet, I am gay and proud”.

The tribunal acknowledged that Mr Otomewo was not gay and neither did his colleagues believe that he was gay. However, it was accepted that the action caused Mr Otomewo distress.

Tribunal found his colleague’s actions to be harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation. As the actions of Mr Otomewo’s colleagues were carried out in the course of employment, Carphone Warehouse was found to be liable for harassment.

Employers need to show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the employee from carrying out a discriminatory act over social media. This is where a clear Social Media Policy is essential as well as bringing this to the attention of all staff with effective training.

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