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Racism on social media: what employers can do

Posted on 12 July 2021

There have been numerous reports in the news today of individuals posting racist comments on social media about the England football team following yesterday's Euro 2020 final. Many employers will be wondering where they stand if they discover that one of their members of staff has posted or otherwise communicated racist material. They may think that they are powerless to deal with such behaviour where this happens outside of work. However, in fact, employers are often able to take action.

When social media is used to perpetuate racial harassment and it is apparent from the post who the employer is, it will inevitably bring the employer's name into disrepute. In these circumstances, employers are entitled to investigate and, if appropriate, discipline the offenders. Dismissal may be an appropriate outcome of that process. 

As an employer, even if it is not apparent from the post that the employee works for you, but you are made aware of the post, you can still take action. The posting may still constitute misconduct and again, dismissal maybe the appropriate outcome of a disciplinary process.

More generally, and to help manage risk in this area, employers may wish to review their internal policies, including their social media policy, to ensure that these are robust and make clear what is acceptable conduct by employees both in and outside the workplace.

If you would like more information on how best to manage social media misconduct and other types of misbehaviour outside the workplace, please get in touch with your usual Mishcon de Reya contact or with a member of our Employment team.

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