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Summarily dismissed because of LinkedIn

August 2011 - Employment. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

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Termination of employment
It was okay for an employer to summarily dismiss an employee who had used LinkedIn to criticise management to customers.
Employees must act loyally towards their employer – a duty which also applies in the notice period. If they breach the duty of loyalty, it can lead to disciplinary action. Also if it takes place on LinkedIn. This can be seen from a case from the Court in Horsens.
A sales rep was given notice due to cutbacks and released from the duty to work. But he forgot to change the email address in his LinkedIn profile which automatically forwarded messages to his work email account. When he logged on to LinkedIn in the notice period and complained about the company and why he had been dismissed to an employee of the company’s biggest customer, the correspondence was automatically forwarded to the employer.
The sales rep, who was already under notice, was then summarily dismissed.
The employer believed that the sales rep had acted grossly disloyally. When he was given notice in the first place, he had been told not to contact any of the customers. In addition, the staff manual said that "Mail sent to the company's address, whether as a letter, fax or email, belongs to the company and will be opened by management ...".
Summary dismissal justified
Although the sales rep believed that the messages were private and that the employer had breached the Danish Data Protection Act and the Danish Penal Code by reading them, the judgment was clear. The summary dismissal was justified because of the employee’s gross disloyalty.
The fact that the sales rep had thought the correspondence private did not change anything.
Norrbom Vinding notes:
  • that the case shows that summary dismissal may also be an option where employees make disloyal comments about their employer on LinkedIn, regardless of whether the employee believes the correspondence to be private.
The above does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such

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