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Fired Over Facebook

February 21, 2019

Quebec employment tribunal upholds dismissal of employee who maligned employer on Facebook

The recent case of Syndicat démocratique des salarié(e)s de la résidence St-Jude et La Résidence St-Jude (9210-9719 Québec inc.) (Vickyan Tardif) (2018 QCTA 593, hyperlink unavailable) illustrates a point well-known to employment lawyers: social media comments by employees can ground dismissal for cause. The grievor, Tardif, had been employed as a nursing assistant in a seniors’ residence, and expressed unhappiness with her working conditions on Facebook, referring to it as “l’Enfer” (Hell), making unflattering comments about managers and criticizing the behaviour and management abilities of the Director. She was dismissed for these comments because they violated her duty of loyalty to her employer as well as the organization’s policy forbidding discussion of employment matters on social media. An arbitral panel dismissed the grievor’s argument that her communications on Facebook were “private,” as this was inconsistent with the very nature of social media. While the infraction had been serious, the panel held that the overall trust relationship had not been violated, particularly given the grievor’s immediate deletion of the comments and apologies. It vacated the dismissal and imposed a 7-month suspension without pay in its place. (NB: this summary of this French-language decision is drawn from an English-language write-up on the decision that can be found here.)

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