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Is disparaging comments about employer by employee on social media justify dismissal?
The act of posting disparaging comments in social media could amount to misconduct and warrants dismissal provided that the comments were destructive to the company's reputation.
Mohd Azizi bin Sohan v Asian Kitchen (M) Sdn Bhd, Award No 1407 of 2017
Brief Facts of the Case:
A restaurant employee who had served the company as a Receiving Executive and Halal Executive was dismissed from employment after having posted the following comments/remarks on his personal Facebook account against his superior and/or employer expressing his dissatisfaction with the management of the company:-
"Management aksb mcm sial...Bodoh tahap cipan...otak lembu.
Tulan boss makin lama system makin kebelakang...
Ada boss pun tapi jenis belajar sekolah pondok... Dah dapat
halal cert pun masih tak syukur lg besar kpala, nanti mau
balik kasi asah parang dulu, sapa action mau libas kepala.
Boss itu buaya ke biawak...Mulut tak mau tutup pulak."
The employee did not deny making the Facebook comments/remarks and he did apologize for his action and contended that he was merely venting his frustrations.
The company dismissed the employee without notice after domestic inquiry as alleged by the company.
Freedom of expression and freedom of speech must be balanced against the interest of the employer in preserving its reputation and the discipline of its employees.
The employee’s act in posting the comments/remarks in his Facebook account amounted to misconduct, but was not one which warranted dismissal. The Court considered the comments/remarks to be a private communication between the employee and his friends and was not meant for public viewing.
The comments/remarks posted in the employee's Facebook account were also not destructive to the company’s reputation as the employee did not refer to the company by name, but by its initials.
However, the Court took the view that the dismissal was clearly attributable to the employee’s own indiscretion and follish conduct, and the total compensation which could have been awarded to the employee was reduced by 40%.