US man faces five years in jail for complaining about his boss on Facebook

US man faces five years in jail for complaining about his boss on Facebook

A US man is facing five years jail in the United Arab Emirates after he posted a negative Facebook status about his employer.

The potential jail time is in contrast to a recent case in the UK, which saw an employee win an unfair dismissal case after being sacked for “liking” a derogatory and threatening comment about his employer on Facebook.

Ryan Pate, a helicopter mechanic from Florida, posted the status about the company he worked for in the United Arab Emirates while he was visiting his home city in December, according to the New York Post.

Following a dispute over sick leave, Pate posted his employers, Global Aerospace Logistics, were “backstabbers” and warned other contractors not to work for them.

Pate told the New York Post he had a disagreement with his bosses about extending sick leave for his back condition to see a doctor, and after a particularly unsatisfactory phone call with them, he took to Facebook.

But when he landed back in the United Arab Emirates after his holiday, he was arrested for breaking an Emirates law on slandering an employer.

Pate spent about 10 days in jail, before he was released on bail. He faces up to five years in prison and a significant fine if convicted of breaching the law.

Narissa Corrigan, principal at Ampersand Legal, told SmartCompany while an employee would not face jail time in Australia, they would likely lose their job if they posted slanderous comments on Facebook about their employer.

“I think the worst thing that could happen, depending on what was said, is generally they’d lose their job,” says Corrigan.

Corrigan says most companies, large and small, now have social media policies that outline employee expectations in both a professional and personal sense.

But Corrigan says particularly slanderous statements may be subject to further serious legal action, including defamation proceedings, using the recent example of an Australian Subway franchisee who faced a legal battle with the company after threatening to expose the sandwich giant’s trade “secret”.

Corrigan says all SMEs should have a social media policy in place, which is written into employee contracts and communicated to their employees.

“A policy would be the best way to consider and tackle any potential breach of company standards,” she says.

SmartCompany contacted Global Aerospace Logistics but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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