Privacy and Facebook

An ex-employee of a company has been awarded $168,000 by the Human Rights Review Tribunal because one of the senior managers copied a photo from her private Facebook page. The photo showed a cake with some swear words on it about the company. The manager forced a young employee (who was a “friend”) to log on to the Facebook page by saying it was part of her contract to do what she was asked to do. The manager, then, copied the photo and sent it to employment agencies to stop the ex-employee from getting another job and followed this up with phone calls. The company also tried to get her present employer to fire her.

The Tribunal decided that the company had broken the law on privacy. A company cannot give out personal information to others without the permission of the person concerned.

The company must now apologise and pay her $168,000 for legal expenses and for “humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings”.


• awarded – a decision of a court to order the company to pay her money
• Tribunal – a law court
• legal expenses – the cost her lawyers
• humiliation – a feeling of shame
• dignity – respect

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