Thursday, January 05, 2012

LinkedIn - Be Careful What You Say

Today's Telegraph reports the case of an HR executive who is claiming Constructive Dismissal after being asked to attend a disciplinary hearing because of the contents of his LinkedIn profile.

John Flexman says he was forced out of his job after being accused of "inappropriate use of social media." His LinkedIn profile included his CV and also stated that he was interested in "career opportunities." Apparently about 70% of LinkedIn profiles include the latter.

We shall have to see what the Employment Tribunal makes of it all. It may transpire that the relevant box had been ticked without the implications being thought through fully - although looking at it from the outside one might think that posting your CV on a profile was an indication that you are at least prepared to look at leaving your current job.

This is yet another example of how social media can blur the line between information that is personal and information that is public and/or belongs to your employer. It follows hot on the heels from a case in the US of an employee who is being sued for keeping the Twitter followers (all 17,000 of them!) that he built up whilst working for his now ex-employers.

The Law Society has issue guidance on the topic and whilst some of this relates to issues which are probably specific to the legal profession e.g. client confidentiality concerns, some of it will be of more general application.

The general lesson for employers is to have a clear written policy of which all employees are made aware (and ideally sign up to accept) and which is consistently enforced. The lesson for employees is that in most cases what you say on social media is not private and can be held against you by your boss.