(Original story at The Telegraph here.)
I have written about how potential employers have rejected candidates because of seemingly innocuous remarks they have posted on Facebook. For examples, the police officer candidate in this post toward the end of the article said he “[could] not wait to get a gun and kick some ass” and this maid who said that children in Singapore are mischievous and hard to take care of.
What if you are gainfully employed in a job that you like?
Employers generally do not like to find out that their employees are looking for a job elsewhere. It smacks of betrayal and many employers would rather cut off the nose to spite their face — they would rather let the employee go immediately and suffer the consequences of being shorthanded and having a bad handover/takeover. This seems to be the case with John Flexman at BG Group.
Perhaps he was merely interested in networking opportunities with his peers in the same industry or in similar positions. Whatever it was, his employer did not take to it too kindly upon finding out that he was interested in “career opportunities” and fired him promptly.
This is a good reminder that we do not have to do stupid things on social media for us to get into trouble.
Executive ‘forced out of job’ over LinkedIn CV
By Christopher Williams, Technology Correspondent
7:00AM GMT 05 Jan 2012
John Flexman, 34, is thought to be the first person in the country to bring a case for constructive dismissal after a dispute with bosses over his profile on the professional networking site LinkedIn.
Mr Flexman is claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds from BG Group, a major gas exploration firm based in Reading, Berks, where he earned a £68,000 salary in charge of graduate recruitment.
As well as loading his CV onto the site, Mr Flexman ticked a box to register an interest in “career opportunities”.
But he was contacted by his manager while on holiday in the United States and ordered to remove his CV. On his return he was accused of “inappropriate use of social media” and called to attend an internal disciplinary hearing.
He was handed a list of disciplinary charges and told he could be sacked, Reading Employment Tribunal heard.
BG Group said he was in breach of new company policy on conflicts of interest which it said banned employees ticking the “career opportunities” box.
He was also accused of including confidential information in his CV such as details about how he had reduced firm’s the rate of staff attrition.
However, Mr Flexman claims the details he posted were available in the company’s annual reports and that 21 of his colleagues, including the manager of the disciplinary process, had ticked the “career opportunities” box but had not been disciplined.
Mr Flexman, a married father of a two-year-old daughter, said: “In his email Mr [Antony] Seigel [Mr Flexman’s manager] said that a complaint had been made about my LinkedIn profile and that I was required to remove it immediately.
“He told me to remove from my profile all information regarding BG Group except for job titles and dates. I did not think this was reasonable.
“It seemed to me that the focus of the charge sheet was the posting of my CV online.”
LinkedIn is social networking service similar to Facebook, but focused on building professional rather than personal relationships. More than eight million British members are encouraged to keep a record of their skills and experience online and up-to-date to help them make useful business contacts.
The dispute over his profile led to Mr Flexman’s resignation in June following a breakdown in his relationship with senior executives.
The case raises broad issues for how employees use websites such as LinkedIn. According to a study of the service in 2007, around half its members indicate they are interested in career opportunities on their profile.
“We welcome the opportunity to present our case at the tribunal, the appropriate forum,” a spokesman for BG Group said.
“We will defend our position but do not wish to pre-empt the tribunal’s ruling by commenting further.”
The hearing continues.