B.C. employee dismissed after complaining on Twitter about employer’s cheap holiday gift

The gift in question was a $6 bottle of barbecue sauce

B.C. employee dismissed after complaining on Twitter about employer’s cheap holiday gift

A B.C. man working as a general manager was allegedly dismissed for a tweet decrying the $6 bottle of barbecue sauce he received as a gift from his “multi billion dollar” employer.

In a CTV News, Hussien Mehaidli said that he had been working for six years for U.S.-based company Fastenal before being let go for what he posted on his anonymous Twitter account, which is as follows:

“What kind of multi billion dollar company gifts it’s Canadian employees barbecue sauce as a holiday gift? Yet the USA employees stuff their face with an actual holiday gift box! @ FastenalCompany @ FastenalCanada”

Within a day from posting, he was told by his manager via phone to delete the tweet, and within ten days from that, he was called in for a meeting, only to be “fired on the spot” by his manager. He was informed that he was being dismissed for “violation of standards of conduct policy – acceptable conduct section.”

While he was paid for unused vacation hours, for outstanding commissions and for his last paycheque, he received no severance pay.

In a video interview with CTV Ottawa, Alex Lucifero, managing partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP’s Ottawa office, lamented the “drastic” steps taken by the employer, stating that it was the wrong move from both a legal perspective and from a public relations perspective.

“There has to be a system here of progressive discipline,” Lucifero said. “You can’t jump to the last step, which is terminations for cause.”

According to a blog post on the firm’s website, while the employer was legally permitted to dismiss the employee based solely on the contents of the tweet, it was still mandated to give him his full severance entitlements.

“Given the alleged contents of his exit letter and lack of a severance package, it appears that Fastenal incorrectly chose to terminate Mehaidli’s employment ‘for cause,’” said the blog post. “Since his ‘crime’ does not appear to rise to the level of gross misconduct, the company’s decision to fire him without severance pay was inappropriate.”

During the video interview, Lucifero said that, instead of firing him the way it did, a better move for the employer would have been to reprimand the employee through a verbal or written notice. He added that employers should clearly lay out in the code of conduct their expectations for what an employee can and can’t post on social media.

On the part of employees, Lucifero issued a caveat. “You have to be obviously careful about what you tweet and what you post… and you have to think before you press send.”

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