The Fair Work Commission recently held that a company’s Facebook message to one of its employees telling her that it would be inappropriate if she was to return to work did in fact amount to the termination of her employment.
Whilst on annual leave, the employee, who worked for Sheen Panel Service (SPS), received a Facebook message from the director’s daughter and a fellow colleague telling her that she was a ‘horrible human being’, that she should expect Karma to come back and bite her in the ass, and if it was true that she was engaged whilst still legally being married then it would be inappropriate for her to come back to work.
On the day that the employee was meant to be return to work after her annual leave the company disconnected her work mobile phone and when she requested a separation certificate it stated that the reason for her separation was ‘shortage of work’.
The employee filed an unfair dismissal claim.
In this case the Commission held that the actions of SPS in disconnecting the employees mobile phone service, telling her to sort out her employment status and forwarding the separation certificate which indicated “termination at employer initiative”, were all indicative of the fact that SPS had terminated the employment relationship.
It’s interesting to note that the Commission deemed the fact that the message was sent by the director's daughter irrelevant ‘It is not uncommon for a manager to authorize someone else to pass on a message. Given the relationship between [the daughter] and [the director] there would be nothing unusual about her relaying a message even though she was not in a management position’ and stated that as SPS was aware the employee believed she had been dismissed it was up to SPS to correct the error if it that was not right.
Whether or not the dismissal was unfair is still yet to be determined.
If you need advice on the terminating employment contracts please contact our experienced employment lawyers on (02) 9635 6422.
(See Sheridan Corrie v Sheen Panel Service (Vic) Pty Ltd T/A Sheen Panel Service (Vic)  FWC 7830 (8 October 2013) for full details)