Brown is fairly active on Twitter, and will typically post short tweets detailing the reason for firing an officer (or other subordinates, such as 911 call takers).
The firings also make it to Facebook
, where the posts are longer and more detailed, Vocative
While some have blasted Brown’s move, others have praised him and the police force for a dedication to transparency.
Regardless of personal opinion, how would something like this manifest in Australia? Would this kind of behaviour be legal?
Andrew Ball, partner and head of employment at DLA Piper, told HC
that employers and employees in Australia will often enter into a deed upon termination of employment, which will usually include non-disparagement clauses. If this is the case, then an employee could sue an employer for breach of the deed if social shaming occurs.
“Discussing matters of your staff in a public forum such as social media always creates the risk that the comment will be seen by the employee, and it may lead to the employee making a complaint or bringing a claim,” he explained.
Ball added that if the employee challenges their termination in court, these comments on social media may provide the grounds for additional damages awarded against the employer.
While no laws exist to specifically deal with employers behaving this way online, Ball stated that precedents are developing within existing laws that relate to social media.
“Employees are now on notice that if they publicly disparage their employer on social media, it can be a basis for the employer to validly terminate the employment of the employee … generally speaking, the issues are the same for all employers using social media in this way. My advice is that employers should be aware of the risks before commenting.”
What do you think of Brown’s actions? Is he slandering ex-employees, or earning the public’s trust? Let us know your thoughts below.
David O. Brown, chief of police for the City of Dallas has come to the media’s attention for his transparent approach to HR: posting the details of ex-officers’ terminations via Twitter.