Kristy Preece had just cleared the Ferry Boat Pub in Runcorn in Cheshire. The shift on May 24th, 2010, had been difficult – mainly because of two abusive customers called Brian and Sandra. Ms Preece, a shift manager, had been threatened with a cane. Not unreasonably, she asked the elderlies to leave the pub.
Under protest, they departed. In fact Sandra got into her car and drove home despite the fact that she had drank several brandies. But that wasn’t the end of the story. As Kristy wound down, she took to her Facebook account and began telling her friends about her ordeal.
Referring to the aforementioned Sandra, she posted a message at 9.17pm stating “f—– hag, I hope her hip breaks!” A fortnight later, her employer, JD Wetherspoons received a complaint from the couple’s daughter, Leslie Roache about the posting on Kristy’s private Facebook account.
On June 14th, 2010, and following a disciplinary investigation, Kristy Preece was dismissed from her job on the grounds that she had breached the company’s internet policy by lowering its reputation. The net result, said the investigating Mr Cripps, was a breakdown in trust and confidence.
The employment tribunal in Liverpool heard her appeal on January 18th, 2011. She argued that she had an unblemished work record and that her dismissal was disproportionate. Furthermore, she thought she was communicating with a restricted group comprising a handful of close friends – and not as was the case, the entire internet community.