Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

Summary:An Apple UK employee has failed in his appeal to overturn his dismissal from the company, after a series of critical Facebook comments got him fired.

A former Apple employee has lost his appeal against the Cupertino giant, after he was sacked from his job at a UK retail store, after posting a series of critical remarks about the company on Facebook.

Samuel Crisp was fired last month after posting comments on the social networking site, and took the computing giant to an employment tribunal. Claiming that the negative posts were set to 'private' on the social networking site, he was let go for "gross misconduct".

His appeal failed and will not be allowed to return to the store as an employee, with the tribunal ruling that Apple was being within its rights to let the hapless employee go.

(Source: Flickr, CC)

In one case, he was said to have referenced the company's tagline after Apple began to sell The Beatles tracks on music platform iTunes, reading: "Tomorrow is just another day which you'll never forget". He responded: "Tomorrow's just another day that hopefully I will forget".

He then posted various angry tirades about his 'Jesusphone', thought to be his iPhone, which included strong language and other unbroadcastable material.

With the possibility of transferring to a U.S.-based store, he became disillusioned with his work. A supposed 'friend' of his on Facebook showed the post to the store manager, who then suspended Crisp.

Apple has a clear social media policy, which barred critical remarks of the company on social media sites, even if the post was set to private and within a small group of friends. The company takes its brand and image seriously to this point, and its employees on the whole reflect those values well.

Just walk in to any Apple store, and it quickly becomes apparent.

The tribunal sided with Apple, stating: "We take into account their position that the Facebook posts were not truly private and could in fact have been forwarded very easily with the claimant having no control over this process".

Many have been caught out by unexpected firings as a result of negative tweets or Facebook comments. Earlier this year, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board has a number of cases where employees were fired through social networking sites.

An earlier settlement led to a ruling where their employers could not discipline U.S. workers over content they post on social media sites. In the UK, however, the results from the tribunal appear to show the complete opposite.

The lesson here? Choose your Facebook friends carefully, and beware of hidden company social media policies.

Apple did not respond for comment.

Related:

Topics: Apple, Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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