Unfriendly Workplace Bullying


A ruling from the Fair Work Commission means that you might need to be a little more careful next time you decide to purge your Facebook friend list. While you might think that deciding who you ‘friend’ or ‘unfriend’ on social media is a matter of your personal choice, but it could have much wider consequences.

Employers around the country will be scrambling to update their social media policies after a decision by the workplace tribunal found unfriending someone on Facebook can constitute workplace bullying.

Rachael Roberts, an employee of real estate agency VIEW Launceston, went to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in February this year alleging she was being bullied by sales administrator Lisa Bird and her husband James, the business owner. – News.com.au

Of course there’s more to the story than just unfriending someone on Facebook but the act of removing someone from a list of Facebook friends was significant in the commission’s findings.

When I first started using Facebook I would accept most friend requests. I later decided that I needed to maintain a little more privacy and so I created a new public Facebook page to give me the opportunity to interact with many more people while keeping my personal page a little more … personal. (Feel free to connect with me on my public page.)

What’s your policy regarding who you ‘friend’ or ‘unfriend’ on Facebook? I’m sometimes tempted to remove friends who post offensive and ill-informed statements and articles about other people groups, faith, politics and other issues but I generally resist because I know that I don’t have to agree with everything someone believes to be a friend. I also realise that I need to hear what others are thinking, even when I can sometimes feel the anger beginning to rise.

Are you ‘friends’ with your work colleagues? If you friend one or two colleagues do you feel you should friend them all? I’d be really interested in your thoughts.

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • I used to have lots of facebook friends, but I did a big cull a while back and only have family now.

    I found having people from work and church meant getting caught up in all the politics and/or relational issues that happen there. It went from being a way to connect with people and encourage each other to something not so good.

    I have found only having family has made facebook a lot more enjoyable.

    • It can be difficult not to be drawn into some of those issues. I find myself resisting from commenting on some Facebook posts as I know that all it will achieve is to escalate things that don’t need to be escalated. A public forum like Facebook is very rarely the place to have a constructive conversation about difficult topics.

  • Because of things that had happened involving Facebook in a previous job, I decided not to add any of my coworkers to my Facebook – any that I have added were added once they left. My security settings are quite strict, and I also make good use of the “restricted access” list – people who are on that list are “FB friends” but they don’t have access to my photos or my wall. I also utilise the ability to remove certain people’s posts from my feed as they were causing me unneeded frustration.

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