Social media | Employee sacked for sharing Billy Connolly sketch on Facebook

Employee sacked for sharing Billy Connolly sketch on Facebook

An Asda employee has been sacked after breaching the company’s social media policy by posting an ‘anti-religion’ sketch by comedian Billy Connolly on Facebook.

The disabled employee was let go after a colleague complained that the sketch was anti-Islamic.

After the complaint, he deleted the post and wrote an apology to bosses and colleagues, multiple outlets reported.

He has since taken to Facebook, writing: “Unfortunately, I have today been dismissed from Asda. Some of my colleagues took offence to the Billy Connelly, (sic), thoughts on religion, that I posted early May.

“It’s been a pleasure working with my friends and serving the public of Dewsbury and I will miss my regular customers x.”

He added: “I have spoken to affected colleagues apologising for my post, taking their feedback onboard. I have realised people's faiths are very important to them, and the nature of the post regarding the sensitive nature of it relating to the holy place of Islam. If I had faith I can imagine being very upset myself.”

In addition, he told the Metro: “Asda have a social media policy and I breached the policy [by] having my employer listed [on my Facebook page] and because I have possibly brought the company name into disrepute.

“I have been fearful of getting a knife in my back because an Asian colleague kindly took a photo of my profile post of Billy Connolly and attached it to my photo and I have been very scared after it was shared on Instagram.”

The post in question

The video that the employee shared was of Billy Connolly’s ‘Religion is Over’ taken from an old live act.

In the sketch, the comedian rails against religious followers of Christianity and Islam and makes comments about suicide bombers.

Social media policy

The Asda employee isn’t the first to run foul of social media guidelines. Earlier this month, some fans called for Manchester United footballer Jesse Lingard to be sacked after a Snapchat post of his holiday.

It can go further. In April, Emmerdale actress Shila Iqbal was sacked after a thread of racist and homophobic tweets came to light.

The Twitter posts, posted back in 2013, and before the star appeared on the show, were used as reasoning to sack the actress who portrayed Aiesha Richards.

Guardians of the Galaxy Director James Gunn was also let go from being Director of The Guardians of Galaxy series, before being reinstated, after historic tweets about paedophilia and rape surfaced.

For employees, it’s worth remembering that employers can, and do, access social media posts. According to a 2018 survey, almost half do check up on existing employees.

Previously, HR Grapevine spoke to employment law specialists Peninsula who advised on having an adequate social media policy – something which no employer can ignore.

Kate Palmer, Head of Advisory at the firm, explained: “The first issue for employers is to determine what online behaviour they’ll class as gross misconduct.

“This can differ from business to business, depending on, among other factors, the importance of online reputation to the business.

“Most rules on online conduct will consider defamation and breaches of confidentiality gross misconduct, but there’s a grey area concerning offensive employee communications that do not relate to the business, but are, nonetheless, posted online.

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“Any social media remarks that are deemed to constitute gross misconduct by the business should be outlined in a social media policy.”

Palmer advised that all employers should have a clear policy outlining rules on social media activity. However, “simply having a policy may not be enough to prove the employee was aware of their online rights and responsibilities,” she continued. “With this in mind, employers should also ensure they provide training on this issue and receive a signed notice stating that the employee has read and understood the social media policy.”

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Comments (2)

  • Doris
    Thu, 4 Jul 2019 12:06pm BST
    I'd like to know if the employee in question was provided with a copy of the company handbook that explained Billy Connolly's particular brand of humour wasn't viable on the qualia-based reductionistic level.

    I've never seen the point of social media in my own personal opinion. Tautology aside, I think it's silly to inform people of my extrapolated instances of immediacy. Why would a particular generation aline itself with trends pertaining to their relative immediacy? No other generation has ever done that. For shame (on Millennials looking to have a laugh at work in a country stricken with austerity and an appalling housing crisis facing a post-Brexit apocalypse)!
  • Boris
    Wed, 26 Jun 2019 1:11pm BST
    I would like to know if the employee in question was not only made aware of the policy but received training on said policy prior, or at the very beginning, of their employment? If they weren't then a case could be made that the employer failed in its duty of care to the employee in question for not doing so.
    However, I have always advised that employees steer well clear of these issues by not socialising online with colleagues. There are too many grey areas and instances of bullying claims against those being "unfriended" from a social media group. I don't use social media due to the risks involved. Personally I've never seen the need to inform people I barely know what I am doing at any given time.

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