Misconduct | Employees sacked for sharing 'reprehensible' fire photos

Employees sacked for sharing 'reprehensible' fire photos

Three men have been sacked after photographs of them messing around at work were discovered on Facebook - CNN reports.

The men, who had been employees of California-based Bigge Crane and Rigging Co, had been working at sites destroyed by a wildfire which had burned through more than 153,000 acres, killing at least 86 people and destroying nearly 14,000 structures.

The offensive pictures found on social media included one of a dead cat with a bottle of beer in its mouth, one of two men pretending to drive a burned-out motorhome, and one of a man pretending to jump on the charred remains of a trampoline.

The Town of Paradise’s Facebook page posted the photos Saturday saying it had already contacted the men’s employer to complain. The post read:

"Town leadership has contacted this subject's employer and he will no longer be working in our Town. The Paradise Police Department is looking into criminal charges.”

Bigge Crane and Rigging Co also responded on Facebook, stating it regrets the insensitive and reprehensible actions” of its workers. "Mr. Freestone [one of the men identified in the pictures] has been removed from the Camp Fire recovery effort and we are working with International Union of Operating Engineers regarding his actions,” the statement said.

“Bigge fully supports Paradise and all of Butte County in the effort to recover from the fires and we will continue to do so."

From our magazine

However, these aren’t the only workers to find themselves in hot water over a dodgy photo. Earlier this year, two Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers lost their appeal to be reinstated to their roles at Whitby station after a row over a sexually explicit picture they had put on a mug at work.

Tom Watkins, Partner at Shulmans LLP, told HR Grapevine that businesses should already have some guidelines in place in case they need to sack or discipline someone over an offense.

 He said employers should:

  • Undertake a reasonable investigation (the scope of which will depend upon the nature of the allegations)

  • Invite the employee (in writing) to a disciplinary hearing to address the allegations – the accused has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative for this part of the process

  • Provide copies of the information to the employee in advance of the hearing including witness statements, documentary evidence and meeting minutes

  • Set out an outcome with specified reasons – in writing

  • Afford a right of appeal.

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Comments (1)

  • Cathy
    Tue, 18 Dec 2018 4:43pm GMT
    Whilst not appropriate to have posted them on facebook, hopefully their employer will take into consideration the mitigating circumstances - the immense pressure and stress these people must have been under, a little humour must have helped them get through the horrific sights they must have seen.

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