Note: Private Acts in Public Spaces: The Impact of Social Media on the Workplace and the Business of the Employer

Author Simphiwe Phungula

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Department of Commercial Law, University of Cape Town
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 43 Issue 4, 2022, p. 2237 – 2250


Social media in the workplace directly affects the employer-employee relationship. While employees have rights to privacy and freedom of expression, their social media misconduct both on and off duty has been sanctioned by dismissal or suspension, especially where the conduct impacts adversely on an employer’s business. Such misconduct may extend to former employees and independent contractors, and includes third-party posts. Public pressure via social media commentary poses a particular challenge for employers dealing with social media misconduct. This note critically analyses social media pressure, and the factors which an employer should consider in order to ensure a fair outcome when sanctioning an employee or others closely associated with its business for such misconduct.