After recent mass sackings in the US over “likes” that workers gave their boss’ opponent in a political campaign, Portugal has joined the ranks of Facebook ‘victims’.
Matosinhos employment tribunal has upheld a sacking for comments posted on the social network, announcing that “it is unacceptable that freedom of expression and communication should be without external limits”.
The case centred on comments made by an employee on a group page, writes Jornal de Notícias. The worker was the administrator of the page – which had around 140 members – and he used his position to post all sorts of derogatory comments. He accused his bosses of telling lies, of trying to humiliate him and being “clowns” – and he then called fellow workmates “illiterates” and “imbeciles”.
After receiving the sack as a result, the worker then appealed on grounds of unfair dismissal and the right to freedom of speech.
This was the first ‘Facebook ruling’ of its kind in Portugal and will serve as a warning to anyone who thinks they can say whatever they like on social media. As the judge said: “the high number of members on the page removed the (habitual) private profile” associated with Facebook”.
The case follows hot on the heels of a Facebook furore in the US, where six workers appealed against the ruling of a circuit judge who had told them the “likes” they posted for the political opponent of their boss were the “Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one’s frontyard”.
In this case, however, an appeals tribunal overturned the original verdict. It remains to be seen if this case in Matosinhos is taken further.