Free speech is dead on social networks – So say Argos?

An Argos worker suffering from cancer claims he was fired from his job for moaning on Facebook about returning to work after his holiday.

Married dad-of-three David Rowat, of Harold Hill, says he was “shell-shocked” when bosses told him he had committed gross misconduct for two status updates on his private page on the social networking site.

One message said: “Had a great day back at work after my hols who am I kidding!!”
Another said: “Back to the shambles that is work”.

Neither of the short messages mentioned the company’s name.

The 56-year-old stock room leader says he was escorted from the Argos building, in Market Place, Romford, on Tuesday lunchtime by security. It follows 13 years of service, in which he says – apart from a two week recovery from a serious leg op – he has never called in sick.

“I would understand it if I had said something really bad about the company,” he said, “but it was a little grumble. I’m the sole breadwinner in my house – my wife had to take early retirement because of ill health – so I’m not sure what I’m going to do for work.”

David, who suffers from cancer of the lymph nodes, says has had no previous disciplinary action taken against him and has pledged to fight his dismissal. Daughter Tina Jackson said: “The whole response was disproportionate. He is a sick man and this stress is not going to make him any better – he has served that company loyally and this is how they repay him.”

A spokesman for Argos said: “This has been identified as a gross misconduct disciplinary procedure. We take matters of this nature extremely seriously and have arrived at this course of action after an extensive internal investigation that involved multiple factors and events. “As a responsible employer it is our duty to uphold the confidential nature of employee disciplinary procedures.”

Time for a little reality here me thinks?

Now I have two questions, firstly how did Argos see this detail when his account was private, there is a mole somewhere grassing on staff. Secondly and for me most importantly, what utter rubbish from Argos’ spokesman, Gross misconduct? Why?

Do Argos management understand what they have done, what their staff are doing…

Free speech is allowed in the UK as far as I’m aware, no company name was mentioned and most importantly Mr Rowat has almost definitely never signed a conduct policy covering social media and social networking – what company in the UK does or has, we are so backward in moving forward with things we do not know, social media is behind in UK businesses so badly it is starting to hurt!

If no documents or policy exists in Argos, this is unlawful surely? Argos are keen to hide their error by way of internal procedures – realistically they were nonsense, foolhardy actions with no thought, reason or point.

If you own a business, do you have a social media policy? If not maybe I can help.


Quote from the Romford Recorder.

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