"S" worked for British Waterways. S made numerous complaints about his working conditions and raised a formal grievance with his HR manager.
S had made comments two years previously on Facebook including "going to be a long day I hate my work" and "on standby tonight so only going to get half p****d lol".
S was dismissed and brought a claim for unfair dismissal. The Employment Tribunal ruled that S's dismissal was unfair. British Waterways appealed and Employment Appeal Tribunal allowed the appeal.
The case shows that employers who do not respond immediately to an act of misconduct do not necessarily lose the right to take action at a later date.
S's misconduct in this case was two years prior to his dismissal and the employer had known about the posts. It seems that since S had raised a grievance, British Waterways then tried to find reasons to dismiss him, but that made little difference and this case is in line with the previous decision of Williams v Leeds United Football Club  EWHC 376 (QB).
Lessons to be learnt?
- Have a clear social media policy
- If you are an employee, be careful what you post to Facebook or other social media
- If you are an employer, while the EAT supported the employer in this instance, it is always better to act immediately on any alleged gross misconduct.
This is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information contained.