Posting pictures of inappropriate workplace Christmas antics can lead to disciplinary action at work.
The problem is that often employees don’t realise that what they say and put on their private social media sites can be controlled by their employer. This is even more so when their employer does not have a social media policy and hasn’t educated their staff in relation to it.
Some recent unfair dismissal cases demonstrate that an employer may be able to dismiss an employee for what they have posted on their personal social media site.
An additional problem that occurs at Christmas parties is that when it happens outside of office hours and not in the workplace employees can be confused about whether the same rules apply as when you are at work.
The result is that employees think it is okay to post pictures of work colleagues doing inappropriate things, such as photocopying parts of their genitalia. The problem is that sometimes these pictures can be sexual harassment and therefore subject to equal opportunity laws.
Sexual harassment is anytime someone complains about something of a sexual nature that offends them and there is a workplace connection.
There are some easy things an employer can do to minimise inappropriate postings on social media sites such as:
• Remind staff to act appropriately at the staff Christmas party just like at any other work time
• Have a social media policy that outlines what an employee cannot put on their social media site
• Remind staff of their workplace behaviour and social media policy and that both of these policies apply at Christmas functions
• Designate some specific people to keep an eye on what happens at the Christmas party and where appropriate intervene if necessary
• Serve non-alcoholic options and stop serving alcohol to people who have drunk too much
• If you find out about something inappropriate that happened at the Christmas party then address it immediately before it can morph into something worse
EEO Specialists wishes everyone a safe and joyous Christmas.