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Lawyer issues warning about work group chats as bar worker is sacked after using one

Lawyer issues warning about work group chats as bar worker is sacked after using one

The warning isn't limited to workplace chat systems

A lawyer in Australia has issued a warning to people who are in group chats with work colleagues after one employee got given the boot.

Having friends at work is a real bonus; you get to have fun while being paid, and you have someone to lean on if the people in charge start to come down on you.

You might think you're all in it together against the bosses, but Roxanne Hart, from Hart & Co Lawyers, has warned that might not necessarily be the case.

Hart spoke out after hearing of one worker at a bar in Sydney who was in a group chat with some of her colleagues.

Clearly thinking she was in the safety of friends, the employee complained her shifts had been cut down and spoke poorly about members of management, as well as encouraging others to speak out against those in charge.

Unfortunately, bosses caught wind of the bad-mouthing and warned the employee that if she continued making such comments, she'd be fired.

The woman listened... briefly, before setting up another group chat with less people to continue her complaints.

Unsurprisingly, the bosses once again found out and the woman was fired, with the employer citing both her comments and a decline in her work standards and behavior.

The chat could be a 'private' chat on WhatsApp or Facebook. (Getty Stock Photo)
The chat could be a 'private' chat on WhatsApp or Facebook. (Getty Stock Photo)

The woman hit back with an unfair dismissal case, but it was dismissed.

In its decision, Fair Work said: "The Chat Group clearly related to working at the hotel.

"There is no sensible basis for describing the group as a private group chat. As a person working in a supervisory capacity, and who had been instructed... to work together and not question management decisions, the actions of the Applicant are all the more unacceptable."

Of course, you can always hope that your work friends can be trusted to keep your frustrations a secret, but there's actually a rule in Australia which requires workers to uphold a 'duty of good faith and fidelity' to their employer.

This can be broken if you're caught complaining with your co-workers.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Hart explained: "Sometimes employees will do things outside of work that have a sufficient connection to their work.

"By engaging in those acts, they can put their employer into disrepute and breach that duty to act in good faith. So a classic example is the work group chat."

The chat doesn't have to be limited to a workplace platform, either.

Hart continued: "These are all like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp group chats. If you do it on the employer's systems, they've got even better grounds to terminate you because it's probably a bit more obvious that you're in breach of their tech and communication policies."

"If they've heard about it, then maybe they may say, 'Look, show us what you said otherwise we can assume this is true', and you'll have to show them if you want to keep your job," Hart added.

It's safe to say we should all think twice next time we want to vent about work!

Featured Image Credit: TikTok/ / Westend61/Getty

Topics: Australia, Social Media, WhatsApp