Would you believe me if I told you that a Facebook status can cost you £35,000.00? Well, it can. Majid Mahmood of City Law Chambers was fined £25,000.00 for his misconduct, plus an additional £10,000.00 in court costs imposed by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Mr Mahmood has subsequently been suspended from practicing law for 1 year.
I won’t delve too deeply into the details of Mr Mahmood’s offensive Facebook post. Suffice to say it was patently antisemitic and the comments were of a violent nature. What I will say is that this raises an important question to employers: should you be monitoring your employee’s social media accounts?
Understandably this may seem a tad invasive, at the end of the day it’s their Facebook they can say what they want, right? Technically yes, but in the case of City Law Chambers and Mr Mahmood’s Facebook post this could end up costing the Chambers millions of pounds in terms of business revenue. Many Jewish clients of the Chambers have said that they will be taking their custom elsewhere. Ultimately your employees are ambassadors for your business, and in the age of social media the way you present yourself online is the way many prospective clients will perceive you.
So, what can you do? My initial recommendation would be to ensure you have a comprehensive internet and social media policy laid out in your Staff Handbook. This makes your employees aware that the posting of content that could be seen as offensive or damaging to the business could be met with disciplinary action. Another quick remedy might be asking employees to place in their Twitter bio’s “views are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer”. Similarly, ensuring that whoever manages the companies’ social media is aware of brand guidelines and the importance of maintaining a professional presence online for the business.
No employer wants to spend time trawling through their employees’ Facebooks but ultimately, having the correct social-media policies and procedures in place can end up saving your business a lot of hassle and potentially a lot of money.