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Employee sacked over sexual Facebook photo awarded damages

An employee who was sacked over a risqué photo that he posted on Facebook has won his claim of unfair dismissal.

The case involved 31-year-old Faisal Auld who had worked for the company Norbert Dentressangle for 10 years. In 2009 he had posted a photo of himself holding a work colleague in a headlock in a “sexually compromising position”. Both men were wearing company uniforms. The photo was accompanied by a sexually explicit remark about Santa Claus.

The photo had been on his Facebook page for five years before it came to the attention of Mr Auld’s newly appointed line manager.

Mr Auld was dismissed after the company decided that the photo could be detrimental to its business. The tribunal was told that the company had no social media policy in place at the time.

Judge Robert Gall ruled in Mr Auld’s favour. Giving his judgment, he said: "After careful analysis and consideration of all the evidence and submissions, I came to the clear view that the decision to dismiss in the circumstances of this case lay outwith the band of reasonable responses of a reasonable employer. The dismissal is therefore unfair."

Mr Auld was awarded £8,083 compensation.

The case reinforces the advice given by ACAS that employers should have a social media policy in place and make sure that their employees are aware of it. Disciplinary action taken over social media issues may be deemed unfair if companies fail to provide employees with clear guidelines as to what is expected of them.

Please contact us about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.