Yes, Aussies Can Be Sacked For Facebook Boss Bitching

Last year Damian O'Keefe, a computer tech at The Good Guys, posted on Facebook that he "wonders how the f**k work can be so f**king useless and mess up my pay again. C**ts are going down tomorrow." Management took it as a threat, fired him, and Fair Work Australia has just upheld the rights of his bosses to do so.

Picture by Nicola Jones.

A member of the Good Guys management team told O’Keefe that "I can't keep you employed. What do I do if there are females who want to sue for harassment? It's best for you to just go."

For me, it’s a tough call. I do feel that it was a bit of an overreaction, but then again Damian should have made sure his Facebook privacy settings excluded certain colleagues from the post.

In handing down the decision, the tribunal said that "The fact that the comments were made on the applicant's home computer, out of work hours, does not make any difference.”

So the lesson here: If you have your colleagues on Facebook, think about your privacy settings and what you post very carefully. Even better, don’t add your boss. [Fair Work Australia via The Australian and Lifehacker]


Comments

    Its the last line that makes this a fair thing I think.

    Its pretty obviously just hyperbole (or if you prefer talking bollocks) since people are traditionally all mouth but it does sound like a reasonable thing to interpret that as a threat.

    I'm not sure where the "females who want to sue for harassment" line comes from though

      He said c*nt - apparently there are some portions of the Australian population where such a common word in our vernacular is still looked upon as "offensive"

        It might be a common word but that doesn't mean it isn't derogatory when used like it was above.

          So what as a male I can claim harrasment and sue for all the uses of 'd**khead' in the workplace ?
          No, sorry; doesn't happen good for the goose good for the gander - if d*ck is acceptable so is c*nt.
          That's the price of equality.

    yeah I kind agree...the "What do I do if there are females who want to sue for harassment?" line really does not apply, if females have issue with the language then they take it up with the person. The language used in the post was not directed at anyone person in particular.

    This is precisely the reason I do not have work colleagues as friends on facebook/google+ it just makes life more complicated than it needs to be.

    The person in charge of the payroll is a woman.

      There's your problem...

        Don't trust women with money...

        /s

    and the guy also admitted that the target of his comments was her. hence the female thing

    Yep, tough call but if you wouldn't say it in in a room with the people you are speaking about, don't put it on facebook.

    bad luck imo, thats a threat plain and simple

    Settings my arse, it is using your real name that is the problem, that is the biggest problem with farcebook, and now also google-fuss. This article shows exactly why people are engaging in the Nym wars.

    Perfectly reasonable - there's nothing here to say you can't complain about your job online, just that you can't make threats.

    And for those questioning the manager's comment, one of the excised words is extremely offensive to the average woman. The employer could be seen as indifferent to sexist language in keeping the guy on.

      What rubbish. Does this mean you can't ever use the term pr*ck around a guy... It's highly offensive (and a homonym so even stupider)

      I'm offended by anyone using the word Christian... Or asparagus... It's just plain dumb.
      A rose by any other name?

      How is it any different to him saying it at a BBQ where work people might be. What if he had two jobs?
      He also still hasn't gotten the money they owe him..so cheating your employees is apparently less of an issue that swearing at someone (who from the history of his grievance probably deserved it)

      At worst this should have been a "quiet chat" type issue. Hardly a firable offense.

        Dude you have to take into account the fact that some people when they see an idea for money will go running for it and tarnish anyone's reputation in the process. Take for instance any episode of Today Tonight or those other annoying shows and you'll see. You'll be suprised by how many people watch those shows and for opinions based on it. I work in retail and just saying the words 'it was on today tonight' is a guaranteed sell. And if a lady who was working there decides to sue them then the local media will cover it and their reputation will go down the drain, not to mention the fact that they'll lose money at the same time. The fact of the matter is that no one really cares if he used that word, but people go crazy over money.

        You may want to re-read the story and my comment. Sure you can complain, but when you start making threats you can expect police to kick down your front door if they feel it's necessary for public safety.

        Going back to whether a word is offensive, you're absolutely correct that it depends on the hearer. I'm reasonably confident that you're not offended by the two words you nominated, as you put them in a comment, but if you put forward a persuasive case that they are offensive (to a reasonable person) then you have every right to be offended by them. Please note the caveat, it's quite important.

          You have every right to be offended by whatever the hell you like. Doesn't mean I or society should pay any heed to your offense.

          I guess I don't see how it was a threat. It doesn't mean he's going to kill or bash someone. It means he's going to get them in trouble.... Get angry at them etc. It's so ambiguous you can't take it as a threat.

          More information about the story was provided on other news sites and it certainly makes their position look worse in my opinion. The guy might be a douche and they used it as an excuse to fire him but the circumstances are retarded.

    So, this is saying that there are ramifications if you threaten people online, or anywhere else for that matter. I guess that's not surprising.

    I think it's an interesting modern problem. People who knew him might know that he just had an off sense oh humour and it was all a big joke, but in the heat of the moment he obviously hasn't thought through the implications of broadcsting his views. I'm usually suspicious in these situations whether employers are keen to get rid of difficult employees anyway. Is it Facebook's responsiblity to introduce some very obvious warning text when people post information? Or is it the individual's responsibility to have greater awareness generally for the technology and their behaviour. Greater awareness as we interconnect publically in so may differnt ways seems to be emerging as a challenge of our times.

      I'm not sure there's any need for a warning from the service, if anything its important that there ISN'T one because its simply not their responsibility.

      Everything posted by users is supplied entirely by them with the knowledge that its public. Personally I think that we NEED to laugh at people who make idiotic public posts that get them in trouble with no mention of the responsibility of the service or you risk getting into a "Warning, hot coffee may be hot" level of stupidity after someone sues and inexplicably wins.

        Only it wasn't public. He had his settings on the highest privacy settings.

    The guy's an idiot for adding his boss and complaining about work. Create an anonymous blog if you need to vent.

    I don't understand the harassment part ... does this mean males can sue for harassment if a women calls someone else a c*ck or d*ck?

    I wonder if anyone in Queensland Health that got shafed in that payroll fiasco vented their frustrations on FaceBook?

    i think what the boss meant by the "females who want to sue" was if the employee said comments in the future in which the company could get sued for (or really stretching how offensive the word c*&t is to some people)

    I love the article graphic.

    aaand THAT is why people need to shift to G+ ;) put your boss in the 'annoying c*nts' circle and never get yourself fired again!

    Also, harassment? Really? For using a swear word online directed at no person in particular? Lol. Usual leadership-role bullshit.

    Privacy settings would have made no difference in this case. Saying something on Facebook and the like is no different than saying it in the pub or other public place. Under current OH&S legislation employers have a responsibility to protect employees from both physical and psychological injury. Being harassed by fellow employees is not an acceptable way of holding someone accountable for their work and employers have a responsibility to prevent it from happening - failing to do anything would have left them wide open to being held liable.

      What libel? How did he harass anyone. So now you can't say you don't like anyone at work even to your friends....your wife... Married people would never talk if you couldn't b*tch about your work when you got home =p

    Bit that gets me is that if this guy said these things at the pub with a group of mates (work mates or otherwise), none of this would have happened. But because he was stupid enough to put it on Facebook, and regardless of whether it was directed at someone or fairly general, he can be dismissed? Another reason for my loathing of Facebook.

    See I keep my feelings about my work anonymous on the internet... Helps by not having a Facebook account!

    Guys an idiot!

    that picture of the woman sticking her middle fingers up is offensive....

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