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Apple’s dismissal for Facebook comments fair

In Crisp v Apple Retail (UK) Ltd a tribunal found that Apple acted fairly and reasonably when it dismissed an employee for making several Facebook posts that it considered could damage its reputation.

Apple made it very clear that an employee’s activities outside work that might affect Apple’s business interests are covered by the company’s policies and that disciplinary action would result from posts online which: (i) commented on the company’s products, services or initiatives; and/or (ii) adversely impacted on the business.

Mr Crisp became upset when it became clear that his request to transfer to the US was impossible, as Apple would not sponsor him for a visa. He made a number of negative Facebook posts, including: “Once again f**k you very much work”; referring to his I Phone as his “Jesus Phone” and having no signal; that “MobileMe f**ked up my time zone for the third [time] in a week and woke me up at 3am? JOY!!” Mr Crisp was dismissed for bringing the company into disrepute, which was listed as a gross misconduct offence in Apple’s disciplinary procedure.

A tribunal found the dismissal was fair. Apple had irrefutable evidence regarding Mr Crisp’s Facebook postings and he had refused to provide an explanation. In addition, Mr Crisp was aware that his actions amounted to gross misconduct and the matter was a very serious, because of the great importance Apple attached to protecting its image, as made clear in its policies and training. Furthermore, there had been no breach of human rights. Apple was allowed to limit Mr Crisp’s Article 9 right to freedom of expression, to protect its reputation.

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