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BK tries to fire worker over Facebook post

Friday 4 Feb 2011 4:53 p.m.

By Annabelle Jackman and Dan Satherley

A Dunedin Burger King employee is fighting to keep her job after posting comments about the fast food outlet on social networking site Facebook.

Julie Tyler commented that staff are overworked and underpaid, and now her union says she could be dismissed.

The company denies her disciplinary meeting is solely in relation to the comments, but 3 News has obtained a copy of the letter sent to Ms Tyler, which suggests otherwise.

Ms Tyler's worked at Burger King in south Dunedin for 18 months.

"All that Julie's done is spoken what is felt, believed by probably the majority of New Zealanders," says Andrew Tait, Unite union. "That fast food workers are overworked and underpaid."

Ms Tyler posted the comment on a friend's private Facebook page. A colleague spotted it and passed it on to management.

Burger King say this isn't first disciplinary action they've had to take against Ms Tyler, a fact even she admits.

"I've recently been in trouble for something but that was dropped," she says.

Burger King met with Ms Tyler and a union representative this morning, but told 3 News there's more to it than just a Facebook comment:

"The union has chosen to single out this incident alone, which is lacking in context. This is not an action brought about solely by the comment posted on Facebook, and to portray it as such is factually inaccurate."

But documents provided to 3 News by Unite seem to tell a different story. In the letter Burger King sent to Ms Tyler, the only reason given for potential disciplinary action is the Facebook post – no other reasons are given. There are previous incidents listed, but none of which are to do with the current disciplinary action.

"This comment by Burger King… is a lie," says Unite national director Mike Treen.

"These comments by the company are a serious breach of her privacy and far exceeds any offence she has allegedly caused by talking about being overworked and underpaid on a private site."

Ms Tyler says despite her comments on the Facebook page, she enjoys her job and would like to keep it.

"There's good points about my job," she says. "I do like my job but you know, you have bad days."

But just whether that will happen may be decided on Tuesday when she meets with Burger King senior management.

3 News

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