Bosses have an obligation to discipline workers who post insulting messages on Facebook, a labour conference has been told.
Industrial law barrister Elizabeth Raper says workplaces have a responsibility to act, regardless of whether they have a social networking policy.
"Commonsense would dictate that one could not write and therefore publish insulting and threatening comments about another employee," Ms Raper told the Sydney Law School's Labour Law Conference.
"We have to think about the contemporary workplace and note that the separation between home and work is now less pronounced than it once was."
Ms Raper, an expert on social media in the workplace, says the posting of hurtful Facebook posts is comparable with workplace bullying and harassment, and has the potential to compromise a firm's reputation.
Convincing younger Generation Y workers to be tactful online is often a challenge for employers.
"Social mores about what's private and what's OK outside work is very different for people of different generations," Ms Raper said.
Unlike a Friday night conversation at the pub, a Facebook message is easily republished and taken out of context, she says.
Legal dilemmas about Facebook posts were compared with the emergence of sexual harassment cases in the 1980s and internet porn being found on workplace computers during the 1990s.
Ms Raper conceded, however, that employers and aggrieved work colleagues often had difficulty obtaining Facebook posts from the listed American company.
Industrial tribunals also gave plaintiffs little time to prepare.