Reminder: Your Facebook Status And Photos Can Get You Fired

A flight attendant in New Zealand has been forced to provide Facebook access to her employers following a dispute about sick leave. The incident sets a dark precedent for the workplace where bosses will be legally entitled to pilfer your social networking sites for proof of dishonesty. But there are steps you can take to hide the evidence...

Air NZ flight attendant Gina Kensington was fired earlier in the year following a dispute over sick leave, reports One News. Kensington disputed the sacking at the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) and has since been ordered to hand over her Facebook and bank details to prove the validity of her claims.

In particular, Kensington was asked to provide all Facebook updates from March 8 and 9 as they would provide "substantially helpful" evidence.

It seems highly probable that Kensington's ex-employers already knew what was on her Facebook page and that the evidence was damning to her claim; the request for specific dates is especially suss. We suspect that a Facebook Friend colleague may have dobbed her in.

In any event, it definitely pays to keep your online social networks separate from your workplace — while it's tempting to add everyone on Facebook when you start a new job, there's no telling what sort of headaches this could cause for you further down the track. Long-time readers will recall the hapless Townsville Good Guys employee who was unceremoniously sacked after making insulting comments about his co-workers on his Facebook page (read the full story here). Again, this likely wouldn't have been an issue if none of his colleagues had access to his page.

In short, it pays to keep your social and work lives separate — we're not saying don't make friends with your co-workers, but by the same token, don't hand over the keys to your social networks to every employee in the building. As we've noted in the past, if any of your colleagues can see your Facebook posts, it could become an office issue even if you've taken care not to make your posts visible to your boss. It's just asking for trouble.

You can read a thorough overview of Facebook's privacy settings here.

Do you think employers should be allowed to request access to employees' Facebook accounts? If this a massive breach of privacy or only concerning if you have something to hide? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


Comments

    I don't think employers should have the "right" to access any personal information. Employers should be on a "need to know" basis and what goes on outside of work is not a need to know. Anyway, this employee from AIr NZ was caring for someone else who was sick... this is allowed and otherwise known as carers leave / personal leave. No-where does it say that facebook cannot be used while on leave.

    On the other hand, adding every employee in your team/workplace on facebook/twitter is not a smart move. Only add those you a truely friends with or those you actually catch up with outside of the workplace.

      I don't think employers should have the "right" to access any personal information. Employers should be on a "need to know" basis and what goes on outside of work is not a need to know.

      That is the crux of the problem:
      I don't think employers should have the "right" to access any personal information.

      Moronic employee are providing their employers the access. You can't blame someone from looking and acting on what your written when you've posted it as "friends only" or "public" and you have your supervisor/manager on your friends list.

      Also basic office etiquette. If you couldn't say it at work because you're fearful of reactions, don't say on facebook which is linked to your work colleagues.

    Then she could just delete anything incriminating and allow access. Then the employee would have proof that they did nothing wrong, and the company must accept that since they specifically asked for FB access.

      I suspect most courts would consider that destroying evidence - something they tend to take a very dim view of. Plus, as Chris said, it seems likely they already have corroborating evidence from other people who received her updates, so be deleting it, she'd have nothing to refute their evidence with. And that would be proof in and of itself that she refused to comply with a direction from the court.

    I get the distinct feeling @chrisjager doesn't like Angus -- wasn't he the target of the last social media 'example'?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NTK4xBIj5A -- too good to pass up on this

    Do you think employers should be allowed to request access to employees’ Facebook accounts?
    It's a massive breach of privacy, and considering it breaks FB's ToS then it's hard to deny it's a dodgy move. I know it's a little of a strained analogy but it's kind of like asking to see the employee's personal diary. Sure they may share some of the contents of this diary with some people, but since it's personal then it's not work related and therefor not their business.

    As for the "something to hide" idea, well it's kind of a load of bollocks. It's like saying that no-one should ever be allowed any privacy of any sort, for anything, ever. There are plenty of perfectly OK (and perfectly legal) things people wanna do that they don't want to let EVERYONE see or hear about. Sure, these sorts of things are probably less likely to be put up on FB, but then you can set things to only be shared with yourself so a person may use their FB as more of a digital diary than just for sharing with friends.

      Court Order > ToS

      ToS > Employer asking for your account

    the article doesn't mention it, but surely there must have been some legally binding reason for them to seek access to the Facebook and bank statements and subsequently be allowed them, ie some fellow employee dobbed her in thus they have reason to believe the Facebook statements would provide relevant evidence, as opposed to whats being implied, that the employer just asked for Facebook and bank account statements out of thin air.

    also I imagine that going to the ERA and taking a claim to court (or where ever) would open you up to scrutiny as well, for example giving the employer legal rights to access, relevant or possible, private information (facebook) to help in a fair trial so to speak

    Another option, of course, is just to be honest in the first place. I actually know a few people who would seriously consider this...

    Just because its on Facebook means its true?

    My response would be:

    "You think everything I post on facebook is real? I was sick but posted some old photos and fake status updates to make my friends think I was having a great time."

    Step forward those who has never embellished upon the truth via social media.

    (Steps forward)

    But then I avoid social media in general. I post on Facebook maybe once a month.

    Of course, it's not necessary to embellish when you have the physique of a Greek God, the intelligence of Stephen Hawking and the ethical sense of Mother Theresa.

    Now, if only I had the physique of a Greek God, the intelligence of Stephen Hawking and the ethical sense of Mother Theresa I would be all set...

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