Man Wins Case Against Employer Who Demoted Him for Facebook Comments

BY Lucas Grindley

November 16 2012 3:23 PM ET

Adrian Smith

The British man who tested the boundaries of what an employee is allowed to say against gay people on his personal Facebook page has won a court challenge.

The BBC reports on the case of Adrian Smith, who was a manager at Trafford Housing Trust and got demoted to an advisory role after saying on Facebook that "marriage is for men and women" and that same-sex marriage is "an equality too far." The demotion came with a 40% pay cut.

The Associated Press reports that High Court judge Michael Briggs ruled the employer had breached its contract with Smith, who he said was "taken to task for doing nothing wrong."

"Something has poisoned the atmosphere in Britain where an honest man like me can be punished for making perfectly polite remarks about the importance of marriage," Smith said via his lawyer after the ruling. "I have won today, but what will tomorrow bring?"

Exactly what is permissible to be said on Facebook pages has become a hot topic lately in the United States as well, with a New Jersey special education teacher finally resigning in October after creating headlines. In 2011, Viki Knox had objected to her school's observance of LGBT history month by complaining on Facebook.

"Homosexuality is a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation," she said among her several posts made via social media. "I know sin and it breeds like cancer!"

Knox resigned but is still pursuing a settlement. One of the more high-profile cases came from Florida, where social studies teacher Jerry Buell managed to keep his job despite reacting to marriage equality's passage in New York by calling it a "cesspool" that made him sick.

Tags: Business

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