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‘What Are Pingers?’ Facebook Posts Sink Worker’s Unfair Dismissal Claim

‘What are pingers?’ Facebook posts sink worker’s unfair dismissal claim

A young Brisbane accountant has come unstuck in the Fair Work Commission, when his employer was able to produce screenshots of his Facebook page showing him partying on the nights before he would turn up late for work.

The worker had no idea his employer had been monitoring his Facebook page for some time before he was sacked for turning up to work late.

Seemed like a clear cut unfair dismissal

*Shane was fired from his job for being late for work three times in six months, but his employer didn’t give him any further explanation.

Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Industrial Relations Claims, took the matter to trial at the Fair Work Commission, believing it was a blatant and clear cut unfair dismissal case.

“From what we knew, it was definitely unfair, so we thought the only appropriate action was to fight on for our client,” he said.

“He deserved to get a warning, or a final warning, but he didn’t deserve to get punted.”

‘What are pingers?’

But on day two of the trial, things went pear-shaped, when the legal counsel for the employer produced a series of screenshots from Shane’s Facebook page.

One of the posts on a Sunday night before he turned up late on a Monday morning said:

“Who wants to get on it?”

And in another post, Shane had written:

“I’m cooked”.

“I remember the employer’s lawyer asking him ‘what are pingers?’, and what does it mean to ‘get on it?’, Mr Heffernan said.

Employer had been monitoring Facebook

The employer had been monitoring the Facebook page for some time, but had never disclosed this evidence to Shane, and had never given him a chance to respond to any allegations.

“The reason that they punted him, even though they didn’t tell him, was because he was out partying at dance festivals, and they knew it,” Mr Heffernan said.

“If they had put to him the reasons for dismissal, the case would never have gone to trial.”

Employer criticised for not providing procedural fairness

While the Facebook posts sunk Shane’s case, the employer was criticised for not giving him procedural fairness, so the matter went to immediate conciliation where the parties agreed on a confidential settlement.

Lock down your social media

Mr Heffernan says the case was a timely reminder to all employees when it comes to their social media.

“You should be very careful about what you post on social media – never write anything that is critical of your employer, former employers, or their customers or clients,” he advised.

“You should also never post photos of yourself partying or spending the day at the beach when you call in sick – it sounds like common sense advice, but you’d be surprised how uncommon common sense actually is.

“And finally, make sure all your security settings are up to date, and be careful about who you allow access to your various social media platforms, because if you post something silly, and your boss finds out about it, it could cost you your job.”

*name changed

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