What do a pair of binoculars and an errant footballer have in common?

What do a pair of binoculars and an errant footballer have in common?

Social media outside of the workplace

QUESTION: What do a pair of binoculars and an errant footballer have in common?

ANSWER: They may both lead to a dismissal.

Football fans watching the World Cup should be cautious about posting on social media as they may be faced with a red card from their employers. This happened to Columbian fan, Mr Gomez, after a video showing a group of Columbians drinking alcohol inside a football stadium went viral. The alcohol, which is during the 2018 World Cup Game in Moscow, had been smuggled inside the stadium in a pair of binoculars. Mr Gomez was identified as one of the people in the video and subsequently dismissed for accepting a drink, despite the fact that, according to him, be barely knew the people who had smuggled it in.

Post at your peril

This case highlights the perils of social media when activities outside the workplace may nevertheless be relied upon by employers to dismiss employees if they believe that their activities may cause embarrassment to the employer and bring their name into disrepute.

It does seem a little harsh on this occasion, but such were the comments on social media that one broadcaster even accused Mr Gomez, and others, of “embarrassing their country”.  They were accused of encouraging a negative stereotype about Columbians and the employer in this situation swiftly acted and posted its own statement which read as follows:

“In accordance we have made the decision to end the work contract of the employee who was at the World Cup whose behaviour violated the law and norms in place within the World Cup event by consuming liquor which was illegally brought into one of the stadiums”.

Gross misconduct

Under UK law, an employee who is dismissed in such circumstances would generally need to have two years’ service in order to lodge a claim in the employment tribunal for unfair dismissal. Activities outside the workplace may be cited by the employer as gross misconduct justifying summary dismissal.  Of course each case will depend upon its own facts.  It follows however those employees “caught” attending or watching matches when they should be at work may also face disciplinary action.

For more information on gross misconduct, unfair dismissal or any other aspect of employment law please contact Paul Grindley PaulG@winstonsolicitors.co.uk