Facebook unfriending amounts to ‘bullying’ says FWC

Unfriending an employee on Facebook after a confrontation could be indicative of unreasonable behaviour, the Fair Work Commission tribunal has found. The Fair Work Commission has found that a Tasmanian woman was bullied by a work colleague who unfriended her on Facebook after a confrontation in the workplace. It was part of a wider bullying claim which allegedly totaled 18 incidents of hostile behaviour and inappropriate comments.

The deputy president of the Fair Work Commission Nicole Wells said in her decision the unfriending on Facebook was unreasonable behaviour. The tribunal found due to the pattern of behaviour  and unreasonable treatment over two years, unfriending her on Facebook showed a “lack of emotional maturity” and was “indicative of unreasonable behaviour”.

John Bornstein, head of Employment Law group at Maurice Blackburn lawyers clarified the Fair Work Commissions decision:

A single instance of unfriending someone on Facebook is not workplace bullying. If I, as your boss, walk into your office and I scream at you and abuse you and that occurs on one occasion, that isn’t workplace bullying either, as defined under the Fair Work Act.

So let’s just put that to bed right away – one instance of unreasonable behaviour isn’t workplace bullying. Workplace bullying involves repeated behaviours.”

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Audio: Unfriending workmate on facebook found to be part of bullying claim

In this interview with ABC’s The World Today Elanor Halls speaks to an anti bullying expert doesn’t think unfriending on facebook is bullying but a lawyer who specialises in Employment Law says it in bullying not as a stand alone event but in the context of other behaviour.

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