How to deal with an employee who has posted negative comments about the organisation on a social networking site
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- As soon as you become aware of the negative comment, begin to collect evidence as this may be useful in any subsequent disciplinary or legal action.
- Be aware that the remedies available to employers differ depending on whether the negative comment is defamatory, a breach of contract or a breach of confidentiality.
- If there has been a disclosure of personal data, investigate whether or not there is a requirement to report the personal data breach.
- Where you are unable to identify the author of the negative comment, contact the social networking site and request further information from which the author can be traced.
- Take steps to remove the comment and consider bringing disciplinary action and/or civil proceedings against the employee.
- Where the comment is defamatory, remember that the employee may be able to justify it and, as a result, successfully defend a civil action.
- Be aware that, if you bring a civil claim of defamation against the social networking site, the site may plead the defence of "innocent dissemination" unless you have previously notified it of the unlawful comment.
- If the offending material relates to one of your competitors, be aware of the remedies available to the competitor and consider making an "offer of amends".
- Consider each case on its facts, and take into account the costs and time associated with bringing civil proceedings.
- Introduce a policy on the use of social media and a policy on social networking sites.