Facebook sacking has sequel in court

BY STACEY WOOD
Last updated 05:00 10/06/2010

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An ambulance worker fired over comments she made on Facebook is taking her former employer to court in one of the first New Zealand cases involving social media.

Alana Adams, 22, lost her job as a paramedic with the Wellington Free Ambulance Service this year after an altercation with a co-worker, part of which took place on Facebook. The co-worker complained that she had been extremely rude, made smart comments under her breath and spoke down to him at work, before becoming abusive during a Facebook exchange the next day.

Ms Adams has told the Employment Relations Authority that the Facebook discussion was "one between friends and was merely a minor spat".

The case will be heard early next week in the Employment Court in Wellington.

Employment lawyer Peter Cullen said: "There have certainly been people sacked for putting things on Facebook – in one case a woman rang in sick and then put on Facebook that she was having a great party – but not a lot of cases have been challenged yet."

The Employers and Manufacturers' Association has just issued research saying bosses should not fear disciplining staff for online indiscretions.

Publishing information on Facebook was like getting up on stage at a party "and telling 400 people, who all have tape recorders, and assuming that none of them are going to take it and show the boss", spokesman David Lowe said.

The Council of Trade Unions said employers needed to differentiate between their workers grumbling to friends and running a defamatory website.

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- The Dominion Post

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