Executive ‘forced out of job’ over LinkedIn CV
telegraph.co.uk | Dec 29th 2011
John Flexman, 34, is thought to be the first person in the country to bring a case for constructive dismissal after a dispute with bosses over his profile on the professional networking site LinkedIn.
Mr Flexman is claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds from BG Group, a major gas exploration firm based in Reading, Berks, where he earned a £68,000 salary in charge of graduate recruitment.
As well as loading his CV onto the site, Mr Flexman ticked a box to register an interest in “career opportunities”.
But he was contacted by his manager while on holiday in the United States and ordered to remove his CV. On his return he was accused of “inappropriate use of social media” and called to attend an internal disciplinary hearing.
He was handed a list of disciplinary charges and told he could be sacked, Reading Employment Tribunal heard.
BG Group said he was in breach of new company policy on conflicts of interest which it said banned employees ticking the “career opportunities” box.
He was also accused of including confidential information in his CV such as details about how he had reduced firm’s the rate of staff attrition.
However, Mr Flexman claims the details he posted were available in the company’s annual reports and that 21 of his colleagues, including the manager of the disciplinary process, had ticked the “career opportunities” box but had not been disciplined.
Mr Flexman, a married father of a two-year-old daughter, said: “In his email Mr [Antony] Seigel [Mr Flexman’s manager] said that a complaint had been made about my LinkedIn profile and that I was required to remove it immediately.
“He told me to remove from my profile all information regarding BG Group except for job titles and dates. I did not think this was reasonable.
“It seemed to me that the focus of the charge sheet was the posting of my CV online.”
LinkedIn is social networking service similar to Facebook, but focused on building professional rather than personal relationships. More than eight million British members are encouraged to keep a record of their skills and experience online and up-to-date to help them make useful business contacts.
The dispute over his profile led to Mr Flexman’s resignation in June following a breakdown in his relationship with senior executives.
The case raises broad issues for how employees use websites such as LinkedIn. According to a study of the service in 2007, around half its members indicate they are interested in career opportunities on their profile.
“We welcome the opportunity to present our case at the tribunal, the appropriate forum,” a spokesman for BG Group said.
“We will defend our position but do not wish to pre-empt the tribunal’s ruling by commenting further.”
The hearing continues.
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