In the last decade the use of social media has exponentially expanded. Social media such as Facebook enable users to interact with large numbers of people, with immediate and permanent impact. Users of social media might assume that their use of sites such as Facebook in their own time has no relevance to their work life; however, the impacts of the use of social media can overflow from a user’s personal life to their work life, with serious effects on both employee and employer. The effects of the use of Facebook in an employee’s own time were recently illustrated in an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision Blylevens v Kidicorp Limited [2014] NZERA Auckland 373. Kidicorp employed Ms Blylevens as a centre manager. A number of staff and parents made complaints about Ms Blylevens, which Kidicorp investigated. During the investigation Ms Blylevens sought assistance from an advocate, Ms Rolston. While representing Ms Blylevens, Ms Rolston posted derogatory comments on her own business Facebook page. Ms Rolston made various comments in two separate posts about Kidicorp, including allegations of Kidicorp “removing unwanted staff”, “bullying”, describing HR as the “vindictive Kidicorp HR Krew” and stating that Kidicorp created a “toxic” environment. Ms Blylevens ‘liked’ Ms Rolston’s posts, and added her own comment to one of them, noting that it was “an interesting article” and “that as a parent looking for childcare it’s good to be informed”. Ms Blylevens was identified on Facebook as an employee of Kidicorp, and her Facebook friends included other Kidicorp staff and parents. Ms Blylevens’ ‘like’ of the posts ensured that Ms All information in this newsletter is to the best of the authors’ knowledge true and accurate. No liability is assumed by the authors, or publishers, for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon this newsletter. It is recommended that clients should consult a senior representative of the firm before acting upon this information. February 2015 – April 2015 Page 2 of 4 © 2015 Rolston’s derogatory comments were disseminated to a wide audience. Kidicorp had a social media policy that prohibited employees from posting information that could bring Kidicorp into disrepute or that could cause reputational damage. After Kidicorp became aware of Ms Blylevens’ actions in ‘liking’ and commenting on the derogatory posts, an investigation was launched. Ms Blylevens was dismissed for serious misconduct. Ms Blylevens challenged her dismissal. The ERA found that her dismissal was justified. Ms Blylevens’ explanation that her ‘likes’ did not endorse or support Ms Rolston’s derogatory posts was not accepted. The ERA likened Ms Blylevens’ actions in ‘liking’ and commenting on the posts to her standing outside the childcare centre and handing out copies of Ms Rolston’s derogatory comments about Kidicorp while telling people “here is an interesting article – it is good to be informed”. The ERA had no difficulty in finding that Ms Blylevens’ actions breached her employee obligations of fidelity, loyalty and good faith. This case clearly illustrates the need for employees to be mindful that their use of social media in their private capacity and in their own time may have unexpected implications for their employment. This case also provides employers with some assurance that if an employee is using social media in a way that may damage an employer’s reputation, an employer can consider disciplinary action.