I believe employees should always take great care when it comes to posting on the Internet negative comments about the companies for which they work. By and large, I’d advise them just not to do it — unless they’re doing it on a closed, private network like Facebook, for example.
But now, it seems, even this is not allowed — is considered a sacking offence.
Kimberly Swann, 16, was dismissed from her job after her comments about the company for which she worked (which she didn’t name but which, we all now know, thanks to their extreme reaction, was Ivell Marketing & Logistics in Clacton, Essex) were read by a colleague she’d invited to be a Facebook “friend”.
I suppose we need to look at the nature of Facebook. I’m not completely sure how Miss Swann was using the platform but in the case of the vast majority of its users, the information they post is not public (in the sense that it cannot be read by just anyone passing by.) It is available to friends and, depending on the settings they choose, possibly friends of friends. By most people it is considered a relatively private space in which they can share their thoughts with people — perhaps wrongly — generally assumed to be trustworthy. The comparison is often made to a conversation down the pub, but this isn’t really accurate since the likelihood of being “overheard” by a stranger is fairly unlikely. Even if Miss Swann had named the company (Ivell Marketing & Logistics in Clacton, Essex — just in case you missed my earlier mention of it), it would not have come up on any Internet search results. So from the point of view of company profile, there really wasn’t an issue that I can see. Certainly not one which would justify such an extreme reaction.
The fact that Miss Swann was not given a chance to explain or, even, if it’s necessary, apologise, strikes me as… how shall I put it?… bad policy. Steve Ivell describes her display as one of “disrespect and dissatisfaction”, adding that it “undermined the relationship and made it untenable”, which strikes me as rather over the top. A quiet word was no doubt called for, but dismissal?
I can’t help wondering just how many of Mr Ivell’s other employees have said — or even written on the Internet — similar things in the past? How many of them are frantically editing their Facebook pages as we speak? What about Mr Ivell himself? Has he never bitched and moaned about jobs he may have held in the past? Has he perhaps forgotten what it’s like to be sixteen, an age when everything is, by default, boring and when we haven’t yet learned the life skills necessary to judge who can be trusted?
Oh, and incidentally, the Ivell Marketing & Logistics I mention in this article is the Ivell Marketing & Logistics in Clacton, Essex, not any other Ivell Marketing & Logistics. Just to be clear.