Adrian Smith, lost his managerial position, had his salary cut by 40% and was given a final warning by Trafford Housing Trust (THT) after saying gay weddings held in churches were ” an equality too far”.
Mr Smith claimed that THT acted unlawfully in demoting him, and he alleged that the trust had breached his human rights.
The comments were not visible to the general public, and were posted outside work time, but the trust said he broke its code of conduct by expressing religious or political views which might upset co-workers.
At London’s High Court Mr Justice Briggs ruled in Mr smith’s favour, saying the trust did not have a right to demote Mr Smith as his Facebook postings did not amount to misconduct, and the demotion imposed by way of purported disciplinary sanction constituted a breach of contract.
High Court judge Mr Justice Briggs, said:
“Mr Smith was taken to task for doing nothing wrong, suspended and subjected to a disciplinary procedure which wrongly found him guilty of gross misconduct, and then demoted to a non-managerial post with an eventual 40% reduction in salary.
“The breach of contract which the Trust thereby committed was serious and repudiatory.”
Following the decision, Matthew Gardiner, Chief Executive at Trafford Housing Trust said:
“We fully accept the court’s decision and I have made a full and sincere apology to Adrian.
“At the time we believed we were taking the appropriate action following discussions with our employment solicitors and taking into account his previous disciplinary record.
“This case has highlighted the challenges that businesses face with the increased use of social media and we have reviewed our documentation and procedures to avoid a similar situation arising in the future.”