A derogatory comment will be classed as “defamatory” if it contains an untrue statement that undermines the reputation of your company in the eyes of “right thinking” members of society. If the material posted about your company is capable of being defamatory you can bring a civil claim against both the author of the statement and the social networking site (as publisher) for damages to compensate for the harm caused to reputation. Be warned though, this can be an expensive and time consuming process.
If an employee publishes comments that are damaging to the reputation of our Company, can we take legal action against the employee/ex-employee concerned?
Yes you can and there are two routes to achieving this. Firstly, you should write to the employee concerned (in addition to requiring them to attend a disciplinary hearing!) and formally request that they remove the offending material from the site. At the same time you should formally write to the social networking site itself and ask them to remove the comments.
If an employee makes derogatory comments about the Company or their manager on Facebook, can I take disciplinary action against them?
In short, yes. It is entirely inappropriate for employees to air their concerns on social networking sites, however genuine those concerns might be. As long as the information has come to you via legitimate means (e.g. you have not hacked into their account to view it!), you can invite the employee to a disciplinary hearing and take action accordingly.