Let’s set the scene: you’ve been working with someone for a few weeks. You think it’s time to take your friendship to the next level. You send them a friend request on Facebook. They accept. Hurrah, your friendship is now official!
Except there’s a problem. Every time you go on Facebook you’re confronted by endless selfies from the same angles. Maybe even the odd tasteless joke that you really don’t want to see on your feed. Or they’ve posted 2,583 cat pictures in the last two days alone (whoops, sorry). And now you’re thinking: “I’m sure they won’t notice if I just unfriend them…”
Except they do. And a few days later you’re hauled in front of HR accused of workplace bullying. Dafuq?
‘Unfriending’ on Facebook = workplace bullying
OK, so our fictitious scenario above might sound a little OTT – but that’s the ruling found by an industrial relations tribunal over in Australia. To cut a long story short, two colleagues had a disagreement over some work. One then unfriended the other on Facebook; the other noticed. Awks.
When the claim of workplace bullying was brought under the bullying provisions of the Fair Work Act, the tribunal ruled in the ‘victim’s’ favour. In fact, they said that the act of ‘unfriending’ during the incident was evidence of ‘a lack of emotional maturity and is indicative of unreasonable behaviour.’ OK then…
There is a little bit more to the story. As a result of the work disagreement, the victim was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and was deemed unfit to return to work until the dispute had been completely resolved. But can this really be in any way attributed to a passive aggressive ‘unfollow’?
Is this really a fair ruling?
First a disclaimer: we’re not lawyers and we’re certainly not in a position to offer up any sort of useful commentary on this (we know, we know, sorry). But the idea that ‘unfriending’ someone on Facebook now constitutes workplace bullying seems pretty insane. It’s a bit of an overreaction, no? I mean, if this were to become a thing in England, I would probably be thrown into prison. (Jokes, I’m way too nosey to actually delete people on Facebook.)
And we also can’t help but think just what will be thought of as workplace bullying next: using someone else’s coffee mug? Humming along to music too loudly? Ah, yep. I’m screwed.
Did this article on Facebook ‘unfriending’ constituting workplace bullying get you thinking? Why not try out some of our other rising articles, including There’s Now a New Way To Remember Loved Ones When They Die… and An Immigrant in Manchester Has Asked To Be Deported – Back To Iran.