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Misuse of LinkedIn

BY Donald MacKinnon
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

An employee who was accused by his employer of misusing his LinkedIn account to reveal confidential information and market himself to prospective employers has won his claim for constructive dismissal.

Mr Flexman was employed as an HR executive by BG International Ltd.  He posted certain information relating to staff attrition rates on his LinkedIn profile as well as revealing that he was interested in exploring new career opportunities.  His employer took a dim view of these activities and invited Mr Flexman to a disciplinary hearing.  At this stage, matters started to go awry for the employer.  A disciplinary hearing was held at which the disciplining manager took the view that Mr Flaxman should receive a ‘slap on the wrist’ for his indiscretions.  Crucially, however, this was not communicated to Mr Flaxman.  There then followed a lengthy delay where compromise agreements were discussed, a grievance raised and the disciplinary process cancelled and then restarted. 

After almost three months from initially being told of the allegation, Mr Flexman had had enough and tendered his resignation before claiming constructive dismissal.  In upholding the claim, the tribunal found that the Company’s failure to progress the disciplinary process timeously left Mr Flaxman in an anxious state; an anxiety that was heightened by the fact that at the outset the Company had informed him that dismissal was an option.  Although they had quickly ruled this option out, they had never informed Mr Flaxman.  Taken together, this behaviour was found to amount to a breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence.

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