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Blog  »  May 2017  »  Misuse of social media in the workplace - Blog
May 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Misuse of social media in the workplace

In 2016, 82% of adults in the UK accessed the internet daily, with 67% of employees admitting to checking social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during work. Statistics like this highlights the importance for employers to have a clear social media policy in place that includes the responsible use of social media in the workplace.

Preece vs. Wetherspoons

Miss Preece was working as a shift manager for JD Wetherspoons plc. when she and a colleague were subjected to “a shocking torrent of verbal abuse and physical threats” by some customers, particularly two who threatened her with a cane. The incident resulted in her asking them to leave. She later received phone calls shouting abusive and threatening comments and telling her to “get her P45 ready”.

Preece was still on duty when she set up a group discussion on Facebook about the incident in which she named the two customers. A complaint was made to the company and a full investigation was made into the incident. Preece claimed that the privacy settings on her Facebook page ensured only close friends could see the post. A disciplinary hearing found that Miss Preece’s failure to comply with company policy had lowered the reputation of the organisation and led to a breakdown in trust. She was dismissed for gross misconduct.


She appealed on the basis she had been under “severe pressure and provocation” and that the company had not been mentioned in her posts. The appeals officer found that Preece was aware of the company’s policies which said that employees should not write or contribute to online content that lowers the company’s reputation or its customers and that her page wasn’t as private as she thought, as customers could see the post. In the policy the company had also reserved the right to take disciplinary action where this occurred and so the original decision was upheld.


This case highlights the importance for an employer to have a robust social media policy in place and how it can also safeguard an employer’s position over misuse of social networks.

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