Another week, another Facebook sacking – but this time it’s not because of lewd pictures or defamatory comments. Instead, six workers in the US were sent packing after ‘liking’ the page of their boss’s political opponent.
A federal judge ruled that clicking the ‘like’ button is not protected by the free speech provision in their constitution. The Australian constitution does not explicitly include freedom of speech in any constitutional or statutory declaration of rights – with the exception of political speech which is protected from criminal prosecution.
According to one employment law expert, employees need to be advised to exercise caution in their online activity. “People don't go to the pub and talk to a few mates anymore, they get on a computer and talk to 10 million people, so they need to be that much more careful," Robin Young from law firm Holman Webb told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Young added that coming out against the company in the public domain could be reasonable grounds for dismissal. “If a person who was a senior lobbyist for a politician was found to be supporting the opposition, then some people wouldn't be surprised that that person may be sacked from that role.” Yet, Young added that the same wouldn’t necessarily be true of simply ‘liking’ a Facebook page. “Whether or not it's justifiable to terminate them solely for liking the opponent candidate on Facebook, I think is a very long, almost quantum leap,” she said.
According to the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship, all Australians are entitled to five fundamental freedoms: freedom of speech, association, assembly, religion, and movement.
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