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Firing over Facebook posts was justified, B.C. tribunal rules

A file photo of a Facebook user on their mobile device. (CNN) A file photo of a Facebook user on their mobile device. (CNN)
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A B.C. company was justified in firing a worker who posted disparaging comments about her employer and its clients to Facebook, the province's Civil Resolution Tribunal has ruled.

The dispute over the termination was initiated by Candace West, who alleged that her former employer Way To Go Traffic Solutions Ltd. wrongfully dismissed her without cause and without notice. West was seeking $2,850 in damages.

The company responded arguing, in part, that the Facebook posts justified the firing. The posts were submitted as evidence and included – among other things – West saying she was "treated like s**t" by her employer, referring to a client as a "racist piece of s**t”, and a “f**kin dick head” and others as "entitled f**kin a**holes.”

Tribunal vice-chair Kate Campbell said in her decision that people can legally be fired for cause due to their behaviour outside of the workplace, if a certain test is met.

The test for just cause is "whether the employee’s misconduct amounts to an irreparable breakdown in the employment relationship," the decision explained.

When it comes to conduct outside of the workplace, the test is whether the conduct "interferes with and prejudices the employer’s business interests or its reputation with the public," Campbell continued.

West argued that she was not, in fact, fired for the Facebook post but rather terminated the day before she put it online. Further, she alleged she was mistreated on the job site.

"She says she was subjected to racist conduct at the jobsite by (a client), who swore and shouted at her. She says that (the company's) manager then yelled at her, terminated her employment, and left her alone on the road. Ms. West says she was then harassed by a truck driver. Ms. West says her life was endangered because of these incidents," the decision says.

However, the tribunal found that the evidence submitted by the company supported its timeline of events and that the Facebook posts triggered the firing. The decision also said West did not submit evidence supporting her claims about what transpired.

"However, even if I accepted Ms. West’s version of events, I find that by making the above comments about WTG and its client in public social media posts, Ms. West’s conduct was seriously incompatible with her duty to her employer," Campbell wrote.

"I find that by publicly criticizing and swearing about her employer, its client, and its client’s employee, Ms. West’s conduct fundamentally damaged the employment relationship."

West's claim was dismissed.

The CRT declined to award the company $1,500 in dispute-related expenses because there were no receipts or other "particulars" provided that supported the monetary claim.

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