FNB Bank was right to sack the four employees

August 29, 2017

FNB Bank South Africa sacking of staff for expressing their views is just one of the many cases where dismissal involving social media have grown in numbers in recent times, increasing the need to apply the law in new and novel situations. The implications of social media for employers and employees are still being fully determined, but the case involving FNB Bank in South Africa provide useful tips for employers. Four employees who were fired by the bank were said to have been monitored by the bank on their social media platform WhatsApp as well as email conversations for several months before they were dismissed. Someone familiar with the issue told your blogger that the bank’s employee handbook referred to the need to be courteous and polite to colleagues as well as customers and contained detailed policies, including policies on political affiliations, sexual harassment and workplace bullying among others.The four were dismissed after they commented on opposition leader Mmusi Maimane’s marriage to a white woman, lack of transformation and pay disparities at the bank.The four employees argued that they had blocked anyone from seeing their comments on WhatsApp, and that the bank would not have been able to see them. However, in their WhatsApp privacy settings meant that coworkers could read the post, and this constituted a breach of the company’s employee regulations.FNB bank investigations found that the employee’s actions amounted to serious misconduct, and the employee’s unfair dismissal application was dismissed by the bank management. According to your blogger’s contact, the bank followed a rigorous disciplinary process, including going to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration before the four were fired.Employers should be aware of the ever-increasing impact of social media at work, and the implication of these social media decisions and the FNB bank workers should bring the buffoonery excuse that they were sacked because of being part of ANC.

With all due respect, i don’t think any bank in this world plays political card.It does not matter whether the FNB or any other employer is named on a social media site or not. When posts relating to work are made by its employees, employers may be able to take action against the employees.The separation between social media conduct at home and at work is now less pronounced, and this appears to suggest that in future decisions, employers like FNB will take a broader approach.The employees may not be able to rely on the defence that they blocked their employers from reading their social media posts and rants due to varying privacy settings which may allow other employees to read the post. Also, this action of blocking certain people from reading certain social media posts may be an action that provides evidence of the employee’s knowledge of wrongdoing. In FNB case, there were emails which have provided how the four were having a sickening discussion. Which crime has Mmusi Maimane committed by marrying a white woman? How is that the business of four employees? When you talk of payment disparities, they exist everywhere in the world, FNB is not an exemption. There is no doubt that employees are increasingly venting their dissatisfaction online through viral videos, negative comments and blog posts about their employers but that doesn’t solve the problem be it at FNB or any other organization in South Africa or anywhere else in the world.The severity of a problem that stems from employee complaint on social media is dependent on how long the company takes to respond and in this case FNB was spot on.Am not here to defend FNB or to celebrate their sacking, i don’t know them, i don’t transact with FNB but its an interesting case that I found necessary to share my views on why early intervention and emotional intelligence training is the key to preventing negative commentary, moronic behavior like those of the four employers from going viral and obsessive rumination over such stuff.

Contador Harrison