A recent case, in which an employee was dismissed after advertising his private company to contacts on LinkedIn, provides another example of the interesting new legal landscape of social media.
The case relates to an interior designer who was employed by an architecture and design company.
Prior to taking up the role, the interior designer had informed his employers he intended to carry out private design work in his own time.
However, after starting employment he then later sent out a LinkedIn email, in which he announced that he intended to expand his private company to “a full-time practice”, directing readers to his own company website and social media pages, and concluding by stating: “One of the many benefits of working with a new company is that you get the operator’s prior big business experience at small business rates!”
This LinkedIn email was also sent to numerous individuals employed by important clients of his workplace.
Unsurprisingly, when the employer was alerted to the designers bold attempt at business development, it dismissed the designer.
The court found in favour of the employer, on the basis that the LinkedIn email constituted “a clear attempt … to solicit business from his employer’s clients” which amounted to serious misconduct.
While LinkedIn as a social media platform has been, as a general proposition, less scandal-prone in content than Facebook or Twitter, its often inextricable blending of the personal and professional might mean it turns out to be the platform that most frequently gives rise to issues of this kind.
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