# 2013-055 - Concept of Discredit , Policies on the Use of Social Networks , Recorded Warning, Remedial Measures

Concept of Discredit , Policies on the Use of Social Networks , Recorded Warning, Remedial Measures

Case Summary

F&R Date: 2013–10–08

The grievor, a Reservist on Class A service, was issued a recorded warning for publishing disgraceful comments on a social network that could bring discredit on the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and its members. The grievor filed a grievance contesting the recorded warning. She claimed that since she was not serving at the time she published her comments and because she had not used the CAF computer systems, they could not impose such a corrective measure.

The initial authority (IA) denied the grievance. The IA explained that although the grievor's disgraceful comments were written while she was not serving, they nevertheless generated a discussion on the social network that continued until the following day when the grievor was serving. The IA concluded that the recorded warning was the appropriate corrective measure under the circumstances and denied the grievance.

The Committee began by examining the grievor's argument that a corrective measure could not be imposed on her since she was not subject to the Code of Service Discipline within the meaning of Section 60 of the National Defence Act (NDA). The Committee concluded that the grievor's interpretation of the NDA was unreasonable and determined that under the circumstances she was subject to the NDA.

Concerning the merits of the grievance, the Committee first of all demonstrated that the comments published by the grievor over a period of two days were intimately and directly linked. The Committee also determined that under article 19.14 of the Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces (QR&O), the nature of the grievor's comments could bring discredit on the CAF and its members and was contrary to the judgement, conduct and behaviour expected of a CAF member. The Committee concluded that imposing a recorded warning as an initial corrective measure was in keeping with the Defence Administrative Order and Directive 5019-4 and reasonable under the circumstances.

The Committee recommended that the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) deny the grievance.

The Committee, however, did observe an absence of policies or directives within the CAF to address the access of military personnel, whether at work or elsewhere, to social networks via personal electronic platforms. The Committee accordingly submitted a systemic recommendation to the CDS in order to address this deficiency.

The Committee also observed that article 19.14 of the QR&Os did not include any guidelines, parameters or directives addressing the concept of what might bring discredit upon the CAF. The Committee also submitted a systemic recommendation to the CDS on this issue.

CDS Decision Summary

CDS Decision Date: 2014–12–18

The CDS does not agree with the Committee that the complainant was not aggrieved. The CDS agrees with the Committee that the grievor made inappropriate comments on her Facebook page, discrediting the CAF. Accordingly, the written warning imposed on the grievor was justified. However, considering the circumstances, including the way the grievor was treated by her chain of command, the CDS gives the grievor the benefit of the doubt, adding that if her complaints had been handled properly she would not have acted in this manner. Therefore, the CDS upholds this grievance and orders that the written warning be cancelled and that all references to it be removed.

The CDS was in agreement with the Committee's systemic recommendation to review the policies on the use of social media, but he rejected the systemic recommendation concerning a review of the policies and directives with respect to the concept of discredit because there is no indication that a systemic problem remains regarding the interpretation of this concept. The CDS nonetheless sent this recommendation to the Chief of Military Personnel for his analysis.

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