Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

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.

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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.

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Topics: Apple, Social Enterprise

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46 comments
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  • This was already discussed

    That employee personally and voluntarily signed the papers that clearly state the rules and policies.<br><br>There are cases when that employee could break his commitments, and these are clearly written in laws. However, it was not the case this time.<br><br>So he broke his promise with no legal basis, thus committing despicable act of dishonesty. Classless behaviour that bears no dignity.
    dderss
    • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

      @dderss

      Really? You really think that an employer should have any right to know what you communicate in your private moments? I think it is absolutely despicable that they were allowed to fire him, although the UK has always been much more of a "Big Brother" country.

      In most countries if you have signed an agreement that isn't legal, than it doesn't matter if you signed it. In this case the tribunal decided that Apple was within their rights but I wonder if he'll appeal the decision.

      It is truly disgusting that employers think they should have any say in people's private lives. A sad, sad day.
      Dodgson1832
      • Wrong

        @Dodgson1832
        "...an employer should have any right to know what you communicate in your private moments..."

        Except that Apple didn't seek this information out. They never exerted any right to know anything. A private individual who was part of the correspondence pro-actively gave the information to Apple. That individual has the right to share that information and this is exactly why Apple's policies exist. Had that person decided to share the post to their wall instead of taking it to a manager, then the information is no longer private.

        If the "hapless employee" wanted to rant about their employer, then they should have done it over the phone, in person, or even by email. Any of those methods have legal expectations of privacy. Facebook simply does not.

        I no longer work for Apple, but if I publicly denigrated my current employer they would also fire me. This isn't unusual and it's been going on for decades, if not longer.
        use_what_works_4_U
      • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

        @Dodgson1832 Where the hell have you been? Ever heard the phrase, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you"? I suggest you learn it and take it to heart. You have certain freedoms and one of them is to do stupid things. Announcing on Facebook that your job sucks so bad that you are already hoping you'll forget tomorrow before it's even happened tells me this person really doesn't want to work there. It tells the employer the same thing. It isn't rocket science.
        JoeFoerster
      • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

        @Dodgson1832 "Really? You really think that an employer should have any right to know what you communicate in your private moments?"

        That's the point, posting on a social media site is not private, in any way, shape, or form.
        Scarface Claw
      • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

        @Dodgson1832

        Agreed...this is all the more reason not to have facebook or social network sites. Nobody should be able to tell you your coments outside of work are wrong and fire you for it! If it doesn't occur at work it should be off the record.
        Rob.sharp
      • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

        @Dodgson1832

        The company shouldn't be able to control you. But they don't have the keep you either. You mention "Big Brother" then say that it was despicable that the company "were allowed" to fire him.

        Freedom doesn't mean you have a right to say or do anything, Champ. You can say what you want, but I don't have to listen.
        dhmccoy
      • Funny, I would have thought this action would indicate that

        @Dodgson1832 the UK is indeed not big brother as you suggest. How many tirades do we hear about unions and bad talent being protected. Now in this case bad talent was released and your are complaining that big brother didn't step in? Make up your mind people.
        Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
    • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

      @dderss

      This story actually made me feel better about HP. This isn't about rights and laws. This is about a company being so obsessed with it's image that it actively suppresses criticism from any source. Any perspective customer should look askance at any company that acts in such a manner.
      tkejlboom
      • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

        @tkejlboom

        "Actively suppresses criticism from any source"? Really? If they did so, you and your fellow anti-Apple fanboys would probably be swinging from gibbets right now. Any company that did NOT have a policy that discouraged employees airing dirty laundry out in public, especially through media that could be traced back to those same employees, would be shirking its duty to its stockholders. There is a time and place for such things, but Facebook isn't it.

        Now if the employee were blowing the whistle on criminal activity, he should be protected by whistleblower laws as a matter of public interest. But if he's just a whiny SOB, he should be shown the door.
        ssaha
      • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

        @ssaha, apparently, you have not seen the NUMEROUS lawsuits that Apple has tried to file overseas against people trying to get damages for slander and libel, in cases where people were only being honest about how Apple treated them or how their product performed.
        Lerianis10
    • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

      @dderss <br><br>Lawsuit coming! Seriously, dderss, even if you SIGN AN AGREEMENT LIKE THAT, the agreements should be declared illegal on their face as a violation of your privacy and Fourth Amendment rights (there are comparable rights overseas).<br><br>Companies need to stop requiring these things and someone needs to have the BALLS to take these companies to court and have a judge declare these things illegal, as they should be.<br><br>It's comparable to, if I worked for the police, them trying to fire me for saying that I believe that the drug laws should be scrapped and all drugs should be made legal.
      Lerianis10
      • Facebook is considered a public forum

        @Lerianis10, much like this. The 4th amendment doesn't apply. If he truly wanted it to be private, he should have written it in journal he keeps under his bed, or talked to his therapist, mother, or whoever. Anytime one complains about their job where co-workers can read it, opens you up for termination. I don't care how bad of a day I am having at work, I certainly wouldn't let it rip on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else. After all if the guy didn't like his job, he should have quit and found another.

        It isn't just about protecting Apple's image, it is making sure that the people you employ stand behind your product, and are making your customers experience a great one. Would you buy a product from someone who is actively dumping on the company or product? If you were a customer walking into a MSFT store and the employing showing you the Xbox Kinect sat their and told you the product was terrible, and that they better buy the kids helmets and pads, you would probably walk away thinking what a cruddy product or company. Apple, MSFT, or any other company has no obligation to keep you around if you hate your job and are dumping on the company and its products.
        Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
  • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

    "beware of hidden company social media policies"

    What is the basis for the hidden part of this comment?
    raleighthings
    • Ignorant blogger

      @raleighthings
      There is NOTHING hidden about these policies, and Apple makes you *very* aware of them during the interview process. The only way you could work for Apple and not know about them is if you actively tried to ignore them.
      use_what_works_4_U
      • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

        @macadam And indeed, if "you actively tried to ignore them" you would therefore know about them. Otherwise you couldn't be active in your ignoring of them.
        Dcarm
  • Never thought that the paper company...

    ...could have fired me, years back, for complaining about forest clear-cutting, and all the waste chemicals we used to dump into the Great Lakes...
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
    • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

      @Feldwebel Wolfenstool
      Dunder Mifflin?
      Loverock Davidson-
    • RE: Sacked Apple employee loses appeal over negative Facebook comments

      @Feldwebel Wolfenstool

      Hit the nail on the head, Feldwebel. The fact is that NO company should have the right to dictate to people what they say on their off time AWAY from the company.

      It is about time that we had a federal law passed GUARANTEEING PEOPLE'S RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH, even in the private arena or on public boards.

      That means NO being allowed to fire someone because of their comments on a board, unless they are slanderous or false.
      Lerianis10
    • Sounds to me like chemical dumping

      @Feldwebel Wolfenstool... would fall under Wistel-blowing. And being against clear-cutting is not the same thing as disparaging the company or product. This person was clearly just disparaging the company and product, it wasn't complaining about poor or unsafe working conditions or illegal dumping, which fall under wistleblower protections.
      Snooki_smoosh_smoosh