Sacked for a LinkedIn Profile? Not Quite

Daniel J Smith recently posted "The cost of (Personal) social media accounts", here on RBC. In particular he reported on the tribunal currently being heard in Reading, UK, between John Flexman and his previous employers B.G. Group, a company he was employed by for 8 years.

With respect to Daniel, who I have a lotof time for, I think this post is a little over dramatic and missing certain key facts. It may be that because i'm based in "merry old England" that I have been following this case quite closely. I think the company probably made some errors in process, but the "ticking the box" was only a part of the disciplinary hearing the company were holding. It's also worth noting that John Flexman was not sacked as stated. The hearing is for constructive dismissal. In effect he left because he felt forced out, then brought about a tribunal claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages.

It has been quite widely reported in the UK press that the content on the profile that the company objected to was as follows:

"In the CV  Mr Flexman, who had worked at BG Group in various roles for eight years, stated the company had 'inadequate and ineffective global resource planning', 'lacked active talent management' and highlighted the fact the president of the firm's Italian branch was arrested over allegations of corruption."

Read more:

It was these points on the profile that the company really objected to, and asked to be removed. Contracts of employment always contain a clause that prohibits speaking or writing about the company in derogatory terms in public.As a senior HR Manager, I think we can safely assume Flexman was aware of his contractural obligations in this regard.

The evidence also suggests that rather than checking and monitoring profiles, the matter was drawn to management attention by another employee who complained about the content. In answer to your comment that the company might have had a quiet word,he was called to request that he change his profile and unclick the career opportunity box. He declined to do so as he was on a family holiday,and this was contributory to the break down of his relationship with his employers.

The company claims they have no objections to employees having LinkedIn profiles, and an quick check on LinkedIn shows that this to be the case, with 3,207 profiles listed against the company.

We also only have Flexman's comments available to us, as the company have correctly chosen not to comment until after the tribunal. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the tribunal is, and will be keeping a close eye.

In terms of 24/7, those who are employed under contract are governed by that contract 24/7, 7 days a week. In the same way as you can't act in a discriminatory or bullying way in the bar after work or conduct cyber bullying against another employee outside of office hours and not expect disciplinary action to be taken, you can't post what you want about the company because you are not at work. The obligations of your contract apply all the time, and apply to all parties.

This particular case concerns me because journalists and bloggers alike have picked up on the LinkedIn connection,especially the ticking of the career opportunity box. Whenever social media is involved, it makes the headlines, and word spreads fast via blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social places. What other tribunals in Reading have attracted such media attention? Like many of these cases where social media is involved in a sacking, I think there is often more to the story. People are rarely sacked for one act or error of judgement.

The upshot of these posts and reports is that the fear of social media is fuelled, and it gets harder for those who are enthusiastic about the potential of these channels to get things implemented. Job seekers get scared to have a profile, or make their social places public, and this takes away some very useful tool in their job search. Companies move to restrict access or introduce new policy making real social media activity hard. They create a climate of fear, and this is not healthy for social recruiting.

Policy is not the solution as has been suggested. All companies should do is extend their comms policy and make contracts inclusive of social channels. Education, guidelines and training are far more effective than policy in my experience, concentrating on what you can do, rather than what you can't.

What I would call for is a bit more investigation from all of the social media enthusiasts, before posting indignation. I understand the reaction,my first thought was that the headlines looked concerning, there might be more to the story. Lets await the outcome, and look to share more success stories.


PS: If you don't trust the mail, you can also read about this story in:

The Telegraph

Huffington Post

The Sun


The Guardian

Views: 4545

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 9, 2012 at 9:28pm
Obviously he checked the box on LinkedIn that said twitter me dead. Ya gotta watch those check boxes.


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2023   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service