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Facebook Post a Valid Reason for Firing, Tribunal Rules

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Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Credit Corp., an Australian debt collection company, was justified in firing an employee who made comments critical of one of its clients in a posting on a Facebook Inc. web page, the country’s workplace relations tribunal ruled.

Fair Work Commission Deputy President Peter Sams dismissed an application from Cameron Little, a customer relationship manager until his firing June 28, seeking to get his job back, and ruled that the publication of Little’s comments was likely to adversely damage his company’s reputation.

“The applicant is perfectly entitled to hold views about any organization and to express such views in the public domain, but he is not entitled to do so in a manner which injures his employer’s business,” Sams wrote in the Dec. 10 ruling. “The separation between home and work is now less pronounced than it once used to be.”

Little posted a comment on the Christians Against Poverty’s Facebook page, saying: “For real bro, you should put a little more of funding into educating consumers on how the world works, rather than just weaseling them out of debt.” He also made a derisive, sexual comment about a coworker.

The charitable organization identified Little’s employer and complained about the posting, Sams said.

Little, whose Facebook profile listed his occupation as a dinosaur wrangler at Jurassic Park, argued he didn’t intend for his information to be publicly accessible and didn’t understand how the social website’s privacy settings worked. He said he made the comments on his own time, outside of work hours.

“For a young person who seemingly frequently used Facebook, it strikes me as highly implausible that he was incapable of adjusting his privacy settings,” Sams wrote.

The case is: Cameron Little v. Credit Corp. Group Ltd. 2013-FWC-9642. Fair Work Commission (Sydney).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Sydney at jschneider5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net