Disconnected: An email Bradford Pedley sent via LinkedIn landed him in hot water. Photo: Reuters
Interior designer Bradford Pedley tried to connect via LinkedIn with potential customers for his out-of-hours business.
Instead, he was disconnected from his day job.
His main employer, Canberra design firm peckvonhartel, sacked Mr Pedley hours after hearing about the LinkedIn email, which pledged to expand his fledgling business ''to a full-time design practice''.
He was dismissed the day after he sent the email in January - despite peckvonhartel having previously authorised him to work in his private capacity on smaller jobs.
Mr Pedley, who declined to talk about the case on Friday, went to the Fair Work Commission claiming unfair dismissal.
But the commission ruled last month that his employer was within their rights to fire him.
The case is one of the first in Australia to ring alarm bells about the dangers of using LinkedIn - considered more benign than Facebook and Twitter, with users less likely to make outrageous statements.
It serves as the latest reminder about the danger of social media in the workplace.
Public servants were alarmed this week when the Federal Circuit Court paved the way for an Immigration Department bureaucrat who criticised the government on Twitter to be sacked - even though she did not reveal her name or job to her followers.
Law firm Clayton Utz warned its clients about the dangers of employees breaching workplace laws by using social media.
In the case of Mr Pedley in Canberra, the firm's special counsel on workplace relations, Michael Byrnes, said that some employees ''wrongly believe that no matter what they post on social media, it is always a private matter and nothing to do with their employers.
But Mr Pedley's sacking ''illustrates the potential pitfalls of an employee pursuing out-of-work activities that are incompatible with his or her duties to an employer'', he said.
Mr Byrnes said that, while LinkedIn content was generally ''less scandal-prone'' than Facebook or Twitter, ''the blending of the personal and professional on LinkedIn'' made it just as dangerous. ''On Twitter and Facebook, you can generally make a clear demarcation between your private life and your professional sphere.''
Lawyer Carita Kazakoff, at labour law firm Slater and Gordon, in June held a special briefing to help union organisers better understand the risks of social media for employees.
She said many users of Twitter, Facebook or Instagram often had ''the type of conversation you might have in the pub with your mates''. Ms Kazakoff counselled employees to protect themselves by maximising the privacy settings on social media sites and apps, and to delete any inappropriate behaviour.
She also said many employees did not understand that they could be held responsible for comments posted by others on their Facebook page, ''even if it's not a comment made by you directly''.