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July 31 2019

Heathrow airport employee Facebook post ruling

In a recent case, Forbes v LHR Airport Limited, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that an offensive post shared by an airport employee on Facebook was not carried out in the course of employment.

As the post was shared on the employee’s own device, it was not posted during the course of her employment nor did she mention any of her colleagues.  The employers, London Heathrow Airport, were not liable under The Equality Act which makes an employer liable for discriminatory acts carried out by their employees in the course of employment.

This case offers some reassurance to employers, who might be concerned about their employees’ social media activities. Employers should continue to act on, and investigate complaints relating to social media harassment promptly and have social media policies in place. It is worth noting the small factual changes to this case that made Heathrow airport exempt from responsibility.  LHR may have been liable if:

  • The post had been made during work time, or 

  • The employees had been “tagged” in the post, or

  • The case had been brought against the colleague who had been shown the image

Any of these could have resulted in a very different outcome for LHR.

Look out for our blog series on social media screening coming soon!