Beware of Facebook posts and WhatsApp messages about work: Justice recognizes that dismissals for just cause are valid when an employee goes beyond the limits of common sense in social networks and messengers. In these cases, the employee ends up offending the company, bosses or colleagues, and the courts say that this damages the company’s honor and image.
On March 11, the Labor Court upheld the dismissal for just cause of a woman who posted insults about the company on Facebook where he worked, a popular drugstore chain in São Paulo.
When analyzing the case, substitute labor judge Bruno Antonio Acioly Calheiros, from the Regional Labor Court of the 2nd Region (TRT-2) assessed that the employee exceeded her right to express herself on Facebook. As stated in the process, the employee posted on the social network that the pharmacy should be “investigated by the Public Ministry” for Justice to “arrest the gang”.
For the magistrate, the employee could have used other alternative means of communication to Facebook to resolve grievances with the company, such as filing a lawsuit with a request for termination, or reporting it to the union or the Public Labor Ministry (MPT).
In addition, the woman tagged the pharmacy chain in the post and exposed the activities of other employees, which led the judge to decide that there was a “breach of trust” on the part of the maid. The Facebook post was defined as a “total lack of prudence” by Calheiros.
The TRT-2 magistrate denied the employee’s request, who wanted to transform the dismissal for just cause into a dismissal by indirect termination. . Thereby, she lost labor rights, as a guarantee to the FGTS (Service Time Guarantee Fund) and unemployment insurance.
In another case, which took place in December 2021, the 1st Class of December, the 1st Class of the TRT of the 23rd Region (TRT-23), from Mato Grosso, confirmed the dismissal for just cause of a employee who criticized the meatpacking plant where she worked on her Facebook.
Similar judgments from 2018 and 2017 agree that posts with criticism and exposure of working conditions can lead to dismissal for breach of trust, and for a crime against the honor and image of the employer.
Just cause for comment in WhatsApp group
But the cases of employees fired for complaining online aren’t just limited to social media. TRT-23 has already judged a case of an employee who was dismissed with just cause for offending the restaurant where he worked in a WhatsApp group — and kept the dispensation.
The lower court decision condemned him for criticizing the all-you-can-eat pizza promotion offered by the restaurant, saying that the offer was “shitty”. On appeal, the man defended himself and said the comment was made “in a joking tone, in his spare time”.
Once again, the limit on freedom of expression was one of the reasons why judge Roberto Benatar kept his dismissal for just cause. O employee should have been prudent when commenting on the company and making a professional comment on WhatsApp. The criticism of the restaurant was made in an open messenger group, and not just for employees.
“Outburst” on the networks can turn against the user
According to Maria Helena Autuori, labor lawyer, it is recommended that employees avoid commenting on their employers in public, since every employment contract has, implicitly or clearly, the duties of loyalty and collaboration with the company. The specialist from Autuori Burmann Sociedade de Advogados comments:
“The ‘venting’ on social networks can (and often does) turn against the worker himself, especially when the content of the post gives rise to being considered insulting, slanderous or defamatory. These are crimes against honor and, as a result, the worker runs the risk of being criminally prosecuted without prejudice to compensation for damages caused.”
As the lawyer points out, the Justice can validate dismissal for just cause when the comments on social networks fall under incontinence of conduct or bad procedure – when the employee’s behavior is considered “distorted”. posts with outbursts against colleagues, superiors or against the company itself can also lead to termination for just cause.