Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Mandeep Kalsi, left, says employers should give clear social media guidelines. Lee Hoagland / The National
Mandeep Kalsi, left, says employers should give clear social media guidelines. Lee Hoagland / The National

Telling the world can land you in hot water

The Life: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are potential legal landmines for employees as well as employers. Mandeep Kalsi, an associate with Hadef & Partners law firm, discusses what both workers and companies need to keep in mind.

Online sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are potential legal landmines for employees as well as employers. Here, Mandeep Kalsi, an associate with the Hadef & Partners law firm in Dubai, discusses the changing dynamics online.

Have there been any cases in the UAE where employees, or employers, have got into hot water over something employees have posted online?

Not as far as we're aware. What we're seeing is a lot of cases coming out of other jurisdictions, mostly the US and UK. They are case-specific, but they do act as a salutary warnings to employees as to their use of social networking sites - within or outside the workplace - could have implications on their employment relationship.

How could workers who use LinkedIn, which helps people connect to colleagues and clients, get in trouble?

The primary concern for employers is in relation to whether or not employees will continue to remain linked with key contacts and clients upon termination, and whether there's a risk that employee may seek to transfer customers, especially when moving to a direct competitor. Also, there are discussion forums within LinkedIn, so care definitely needs to be taken - probably more so in the context of Twitter or Facebook, depending on the user privacy settings, where employees may land themselves in hot water.

How so?

Depending upon the degree of offensiveness of the employee's postings online, they could ... potentially damage the employer's reputation [by] posting disparaging or derogatory comments about products or services. An employee may also be liable for defamation or inadvertently expose themselves to disciplinary action if they call in sick but their Facebook profile updates flatly contradict that.

Under the Employment Law of the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), an employer within that business hub may be held legally responsible for the discriminatory acts of their employees if committed during the course of a job. How might this work online?

Say you have an employee who engaged in cyber-bullying or discrimination that develops in the workplace and continues after-hours in a work social function. The employee will not necessarily be acting outside the scope of his employment because he's been expressly forbidden from posting such material, and the employer may be vicariously liable even if it's not authorised the employee's actions.

How do employers avoid being held liable?

The employer has to demonstrate it took reasonable measures preventing those attacks.

Where should employers set out their expectations for how employees operate online?

Employers can set out their expectations by implementing clear and robust social media policies, which will assist employers when seeking to justify any subsequent disciplinary action. It also provides a code of conduct for employees.

* Neil Parmar

twitter: Follow our breaking business news and retweet to your followers. Follow us

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National