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Germany – Dismissal justifiable over offensive Facebook posts

15 October 2012

A temporary worker in Germany was sacked after posting an offensive remark about his employer on his Facebook page, a decision that was justified according to a labour court ruling in Hamm last week.

The worker was employed in an apprenticeship scheme as a media designer and was responsible for creating professional Facebook pages for clients. However, on his private Facebook site he accused his employer of being a “slave driver” and “exploiter.”

The worker was very explicit about his negative remarks regarding his employer. He said his work comprised doing “stupid crap for the minimum wage.” When he was found out, the employer dismissed him instantly. 

In the first trial court in Bochum, the employee was granted protection from dismissal because of his relatively young age. The judges then deemed that the Facebook posts reflected the immature character of the worker who was 27 years of age at the time of dismissal.

But a second ruling last week overturned this decision and ruled the dismissal effective.

The court said that the remarks on Facebook were clearly offensive and the worker should not have presumed that this will leave his employment relationship unaffected. It said that the private Facebook page was also widely accessible. It also argued that his age did not protect him from dismissal as he was deemed old enough to be held accountable for his remarks. 

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