Recently, a spa employee in Kelowna, BC learned she was fired by her employer via a message sent to her Facebook profile. “Cyber-sacking” became the new phrase of the day. According to an article in the Kelowna Daily Courier, the employer had tried to contact the employee on her cell phone and her home phone prior to sending the Facebook message, but wasn’t able to get through. The employee had been hired with a Facebook message a few weeks earlier.
This gives rise to questions about what are appropriate ways to communicate decisions to terminate employees. The Supreme Court of Canada, in its landmark 1997 “Wallace” case, outlined that how a termination occurs may result in “bad faith” damages, which are above and beyond other severance requirements, if an employer does not conduct the termination properly.
Would firing an employee via Facebook be considered a bad faith termination under Wallace? You’ll have to talk to an employment lawyer to determine that.
However, whether a Facebook firing would be considered a termination in bad faith or not, doesn’t mean that “cyber-sacking” is the right way to terminate an employee. Employee terminations are a sensitive, difficult thing to do, regardless of the circumstances. They require great tact and sensitivity. Treat terminating employees with respect. Communicate the message, in person, if possible. Be compassionate, yet objective.
Remember that how you fire an employee is just as important as how you hire them. It all adds to creating your employer brand – how your company is perceived as a desirable place to work. We believe that if a termination is done properly, terminated employees will remain champions for your company even after their departure. How will an employee fired via Facebook add or detract from your employer brand?
Copyright 2008 Clear HR Consulting Inc. All rights reserved.