The Brazilian Superior Labor Court (TST) recently upheld the for just cause dismissal of an employee who offended the company president on the company’s internal social media.
The decision relived the discussion about the use of social media in the work environment.
Brazilian Employment Law provides for the possibility of for just cause termination of an employee who commits an act detrimental to the honor or good reputation carried out in the service against any person.
However, some Brazilian Labor Court decisions in the past had already refused to apply just cause termination for comments on social media, when the publications occurred on the employee’s private social media, claiming employees’ right to privacy to use their social media.
This decision now makes clear the differentiation between the use of the company’s internal social media and the employee’s private ones. Clarifying that when the derogatory comment is published on the company’s private social media, it is possible to apply penalties, which include for just cause termination.
The decision also emphasizes that the company’s professional account contained its own rules for use, which expressly prohibited employees from: “Commenting on facts in an inappropriate tone”, “Exposing colleagues in a negative way” and “Making comments with inappropriate content”.
We highlighted 5 points below that companies must observe to regulate the use of social networks by their employees:
1. Guidance and direction from the beginning of the employment contract regarding the use of social medias, especially so that confidential or sensitive information about work is not exposed;
2. Prevision of rules regarding the use of social medias (internal and external) in internal policies and codes of ethics of companies (which can also be folders and manuals);
3. Make it clear that the company’s social networks, even if public such as LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook, when sponsored by the company, are understood as the company’s internal social medias, and any publication of a pejorative nature on these networks is prohibited;
4. Periodic training with guidance on posture, limits and appropriate language for using social medias (employee-owned or company-owned);
5. The company can negotiate with the Union of the category the inclusion of provisions in an agreement or collective convention regarding the parameters for the use of social medias, essentially those sponsored by the company.
The above recommended practices aim to establish parameters for the use of social media, so that professionals understand the limits and use freedom of expression with caution, respecting the limits imposed by law and the employment contract.