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We are all familiar with the story of the employee who reports ill, and then a few days later all kinds of sunny holiday pictures appear on Facebook of that same employee who, with a sunburnt face, is partying until the early hours …

The outcome of this story varies from “It was a private matter, and so the employer was powerless” to “This resulted in an instant dismissal”.

Urban legend, or is the truth somewhere in the middle?

Also in employment law, in practice, there seems to be quite a difference in how Social Media are dealt with. However, it appears more and more that expressions in a variety of Social Media platforms that are directly or indirectly related to work, may have significant repercussions for an employment relationship.

Apps, posts and tweets regularly serve as supporting evidence in the event of disputes.

Not only in an existing relationship between employer and employee does Social Media play a rapidly growing role. Also think of the candidate who gets a friend request from an employee of the company, in order to be able to see the profile on Facebook. In the case of a former employee, it was considered by the court that the employee had violated his non-solicitation clause by accepting an invitation from a relation of his former employer via LinkedIn. This relation was employed by a company explicitly mentioned in the non-solicitation clause. Partly because there was a previously infringement as well, this resulted in the imposition of a financial penalty on the former employee of €20,000 …

The message is clear: Social Media are not innocuous and without obligation!

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