What can an employer do if an employee posts a derogatory comment about it on a social networking site?
If an employee posts unlawful material, whether defamatory or otherwise, about the employer on a social networking site, the employer should write to the employee putting them on notice of the rights that have allegedly been infringed, ie that it considers the material to be defamatory and/or a breach of contract. It should also set out the potential remedies that it may have against the employee (including an action for damages) and demand that the employee immediately remove the offending material from the website.
The employer should also inform the employee that this is a disciplinary matter and instigate its disciplinary procedure, ensuring that it complies with the procedures set out in the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.
In addition, the employer should take immediate steps to contact the social networking site to request that the offending material be removed from the site. Such a request is best done by way of a formal letter of claim putting the social networking site on notice that material appearing on its website is capable of defaming the employer and/or is unlawful and could potentially give rise to a claim for damages. Some social networking sites also have an automated reporting system.