Be Careful Who You Unfriend on Facebook—It Could Constitute Workplace Bullying

Wait, what?

You may want to be careful about who you unfriend on Facebook.

A tribunal in Australia has found that a woman who broke ties with a colleague on the social network had shown "unreasonable behaviour".



(Image credit: Archives)

Lisa Bird, a real estate agent sales administrator, decided to unfriend colleague Rachel Roberts after the latter complained to the agency's principal that her properties were not being displayed correctly in the store window.

Bird, who is the wife of the principal, accused her colleague of being like "[a] naughty little school girl running to the teacher".

This led Roberts to leave the office in tears, and when she got home she found that Bird had unfriended her on Facebook.

The Fair Work Commission held that she had suffered anxiety and depression as a result of this and other behaviour by Bird.

"This action by Mrs Bird evinces a lack of emotional maturity and is indicative of unreasonable behaviour," the tribunal said.

"The 'schoolgirl' comment… is evidence of an inappropriate dealing with Ms Roberts which was provocative and disobliging.

"I am of the view that Mrs Bird took the first opportunity to draw a line under the relationship with Ms Roberts on January 29 2015, when she removed her as a friend on Facebook as she did not like Ms Roberts and would prefer not to have to deal with her."

However, there were other claims of bullying beside the Facebook incident, and legal experts have said that despite the tribunal's ruling in this particular case, unfriending a colleague does not constitute bullying automatically.