Unite Legal Services wins Facebook case

An Arriva bus driver, and Unite rep, has been fully compensated for unfair dismissal after Unite Legal Services took his case to an Employment Tribunal.

John Mulvey, who worked at Brixton bus garage in South London, won his case after being dismissed for allegedly breaching Arriva’s social networking policy.

At the time, Unite was working to protect members from proposed changes to terms and conditions. As an official involved in the dispute, Mr Mulvey posted comments on a Facebook page used by union members only, which caused Arriva to dismiss him.

The Employment Tribunal found that the discussion on the Facebook “closed group” was similar to a union meeting and qualified as union activity. The Tribunal criticised Arriva’s inadequate and flawed investigation and said its social network policy was not clear.

“In this case, John Mulvey was protected because his posts were judged to be part of his role as a union rep. The outcome might have been different if he had posted on an open social media site,” said Unite L&E regional secretary, Peter Kavanagh.

“While this case demonstrates Unite’s commitment to supporting its members, always think carefully before posting anything about your employer or your colleagues. Posting on Facebook or Twitter is not the same as chatting privately with friends, it’s like publishing a newspaper article.” 

Although the Tribunal ordered Arriva to re-engage Mr Mulvey, Unite Legal Services eventually arranged for Arriva to provide Mr Mulvey with a financial compensation package.