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Can HR invade what happens outside of work with a colleague?


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Wondering if anyone can give me advise on my situation which I will outline as briefly as I can keeping the detail that may be needed.

 

I am currently on a final written warning for using facebook during work hours which I in agreement with and have no problem. After I was served this I ceased using the internet at work so they could use this against me again. This final written warning was for a year and will be finished in April 2012.

 

Last night I put a news article on facebook (at home in my personal time) about a rapist and said doesn't they guy look like someone who we work with (actually I only mentioned his surname), who I thought was a firend. As he is not on facebook i didnt tag him. I didn't put this on there in a malicious way it was purley because he was a spitting image of the man in the article.

 

They guy in question must have been told by someone on my friends list who have in turn sent him screen shots. He then text me saying that wasnt nice etc and I told him to do one as if he can't take a joke im not interested.

 

So today I know he has reported me to HR but I have not heard from them yet but I assume I will on Monday. My boss says he will back me up as he can see the funny side etc.

 

Just wondered if anyone knew where I stood as this was completely out of work hours and my performance at work since the final warning has been noted and they were impressed.

 

Hope you can help, regards CB

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Hi,

 

I think I would edit the comment in question and make it properly clear that you only mean the spitting image of a face. Otherwise, I am not surprised he was saddened.

Apologise and ask if editing the comment to a proper meaning will be OK with him.

I can't see why being told the same, clearly, but by a stranger holding a newspaper in the street would mean he was offended and shall report a matter to the police, etc.

But! There IS a difference between being told "you look like this rapist" and "gosh, your face is the spitting image of this rapist's".

Edited by ms_smith
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Hi,

 

I think I would edit the comment in question and make it properly clear that you only mean the spitting image of a face. Otherwise, I am not surprised he was saddened.

Apologise and ask if editing the comment to a proper meaning will be OK with him.

I can't see why being told the same, clearly, but by a stranger holding a newspaper in the street would mean he was offended and shall report a matter to the police, etc.

But! There IS a difference between being told "you look like this rapist" and "gosh, your face is the spitting image of this rapist's".

 

It is obvious that I mean just the picture and not the story. I have know the guy on a personal level and work level for a number of years and like I have said it was purley posted because they looked the same and not that I thought he was a rapist. I thought that if he ever did see it he would laugh as you do not undertand how much of a spitting image it is. Confirmed by approx 20 friends.

 

What I want to get at is where do I stand with HR as this stuff happened completely out of work hours etc and was not intened in a malicious way whatsoever.

 

Thanks for your reply.

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Well, there is this issue with a free speech right, both at the workplace and outside of working hours, which include facebook. But even though you may use the words you consider neutral and obvious to yourself, they may always be misinterpreted, if unclear, and taken as malicious.

The fact that it happened outside of working hours, on facebook, doesn't matter - if objectively considered by a third party as potentially malicious, they may constitute bullying to a work colleague.

Can you cite here what you posted please?

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I posted the said article with ' do you think this looks like (mans surname)'. Ha ha coments were made. I said I dont mean he rapes women just men :p (in jest) more ha ha comments. to which I replied you have to admit it looks like him, shame its not a nice article.

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Probably best deleted rather than try and argue the rights and wrongs of it. I can agree with ms_smith above in that this COULD be construed as bullying or harassment of a colleague - that is when personal life and activities overlap with work and you would have very little room to argue. It matters not that this might be a long-standing friend as well as a colleague - workplaces are terrible for banter which can start as well intentioned humour but can quickly become extremely irritating and even distressing.

 

Just imagine for a moment that this person has shouts of 'rapist' follow him around the building as he walks past, or that he refuses to work with you in future? HR would be duty bound to act, and I wouldn't fancy your chances if you are already on a final warning, so I would strongly advise against trying to justify the Facebook post or make this person see the funny side and delete the post before taking him to one side and apologising unreservedly for any offence caused.

 

Just my opinion....

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Hi

 

Fully agree with ms_smith and remember you did state 'doesn't the guy look like someone who we work with' with this statement on a Social Networking site your company may see it differently.

 

That is the big problem with Social Networking sites you need to be really careful what you put and say especially if if mentions or reflects anything to do with your work.

 

This may be of some help ACAS Workplaces and Social Networking

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Hi

 

Fully agree with ms_smith and remember you did state 'doesn't the guy look like someone who we work with' with this statement on a Social Networking site your company may see it differently.

 

That is the big problem with Social Networking sites you need to be really careful what you put and say especially if if mentions or reflects anything to do with your work.

 

This may be of some help ACAS Workplaces and Social Networking

 

 

To be fair I should wrote in my reply. That I posted doesn't this Look like (mans surname). Work was never mentioned. Anyway doubt that matters much.

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I have to agree unless only non workplace friends could access the photo/comments its a clear case of harassment regardless of your intentions. Whilst you may have had innocent intentions you cannot have control over what others make of the posting. If I were the victim and wanted to kick up a fuss there is enough case law on the subject to ensure you would be down the job centre in a few weeks time.

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In my opinion I would have to say he may have a claim against you, my advice is seek him out personally to remedy the situation before it escalates and remove the whole thing from the facebooks public domain. Maybe a public apology of the non intentional remarks made ect ect would surfice. I don't condone what you have done either.

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I assume your company do not have a social media policy?

 

Agree with others, remove & apologise. It doesn't matter if you thought it was funny the guy is clearly offended. I would be offended to be compared to a rapist in anyway.

 

Can you get in trouble for this? YES! The lines between work & personal always cross. It's no different than if you'd punched this guy in the face during a night out.

 

A final written warning for using Facebook at work seems excessive, there must be more to it than that?

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Facebook ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!!!! not again.

 

You don't have 'friends' you have people you know, acquaintances but not friends especially those that you have become friendly with at work. Work is a place to earn enough to enable you to live. Those people that you thought of as friends would cut you in half if they thought they could get an advantage over you and make an extra pound or so.

 

Delete your 'friends' keep it to family and people outside the work environment.

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I posted the said article with ' do you think this looks like (mans surname)'. Ha ha coments were made. I said I dont mean he rapes women just men :p (in jest) more ha ha comments. to which I replied you have to admit it looks like him, shame its not a nice article.

 

Well, I don't like it and can't help it. In my opinion, you have created a humiliating, degrading, offensive environment to your colleague. You might have wanted to say he is only a spitting image of this rapist but, oh dear, you failed to do it and you clearly had fun over it.

You see, every of us has got the boundaries how many jokes on ourselves, as well, we can digest. Some will laugh at themselves being poked by someone else, some will take it from a different corner, some will respond with a joke on those who have started. But that's how you take it further - you respect responses. If you can't, you clearly meant proper fun over someone without much consideration to their feelings.

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