Earlier this year, we wrote about how social media can become a veritable minefield for you the employer. We also advised that you need to have a social media policy in place in addition to instituting training sessions about social media with your staff. (Click here to find out about we can help you with training your employees about the dos and don’ts of social media.) Cantamessa v Edcon Group – (2017) 26 CCMA 8.37.2 also reported at  [2017] 4  BALR 359 (CCMA) is another such case.

Facts of the case

  • An employee had made an allegedly racist comment on her Facebook feed regarding President Zuma and the current South African government.
  • Several employees had liked it.
  • After a complaint by another employee of the company, the employee who made the comment was dismissed under the social media policy. The employer informed her that had she not indicated on her Facebook profile that she was employed by the company, she would not have been dismissed.
  • The employees who had liked the comment were given final written warnings.
  • The Commissioner at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) noted that the social media policy only applied while the employees were at work.
  • It was also noted that the employer had acted inconsistently regarding the allocating of punishment to the various employees.
  • Consequently, the Commissioner awarded 12 month’s compensation to the employee.

However, in the ruling the Commissioner disregarded the Penny Sparrow decision in which Sparrow was dismissed from her employer even though she had made the racist comments she had while on holiday and using her own device.

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