The decision of the director of the new Fantastic Four film to publicly criticise the film on Twitter is another reminder of the problems which can emerge for organisations when employees air grievances on social media, according to specialist employment lawyers.
Josh Trank attracted much attention when he took to his own Twitter account on the eve of the film’s release last week to state: “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.”
While the tweet has since been deleted, Fantastic Four has gone on to receive generally poor reviews from critics and achieved a disappointed box office return across the globe on its opening weekend.
There has also been much speculation online regarding apparent issues in production of the film, which stars Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan, Jamie Bell and Kate Mara, including reported reshoots and last-minute script rewrites.
According to Irwin Mitchell’s specialist employment lawyers, the reports of Trank’s tweet once again put a spotlight on the dangers that social media could potentially pose to organisations.
“Social media offers huge benefits to organisations, allowing them to communicate and engage with customers – or in this case cinemagoers – in a way that was simply not possible before.
“There are major advantages to such platforms, but this issue highlights the problems that can emerge if a seemingly disgruntled employee – of sorts – takes to social media to highlight disappointments or grievances.
“All businesses, regardless of their industry, need to be alive to the potential reputational damage that can be caused by such issues and should have clear guidance and policies in place to ensure those working for them understand what is acceptable.
“As a director of a film produced by Fox, it is likely that Josh Trank has a contract which outlines what is expected of him during the creation of such a film and its promotion, so it would be surprising if this did not include clauses related to publicity regarding the finished product.
“It is also important that employees recognise that they can face disciplinary action even if a comment is made outside of work or, like in this instance, on personal accounts. Even when the employment relationship has ended, an employer could still take legal action via the courts.
“Finally, employers should recognise that consistency is key – every matter should be handled in accordance with a strict set of guidelines. This is particularly important as showing leniency in one could cause issues if they then choose to act more strictly in another.
“It will be interesting to see if more emerges regarding this very public spat and whether it does indeed lead to Fox taking some form of action against the seemingly unhappy director.”
Padma Tadi – Irwin Mitchell
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