Louisiana News Station Fires Two Staffers Over Social Media Policy

The internet is abuzz with news about the firing of meteorologist Rhonda Lee for a Facebook post she made on her former employer’s account. Lee, who until November 28 was a meteorologist at KTBS in Shreveport, La., responded to a comment from a viewer on the station’s Facebook about the “Black woman with the short hair,” noting he didn’t like it and questioning if she was a cancer patient.

After several days Lee decided to respond with what I and many others consider a well-thought out message to the viewer, noting that her health was fine, her hair was a reflection of her African-American heritage, and that she hoped to set an example for kids that they can be successful with all types of appearances.

The higher-ups at KTBS responded by firing her for violating the station’s social media policy.

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Facebook Timelines And Your Professional Life

Have you upgraded your Facebook profile to Timeline yet? Given any consideration to how it looks to your colleagues or potential employers who may be looking at your digital tracks? Now is the time! Timeline is not yet mandatory but it will be soon, and it will automatically create a personal history for you based on past posts and connections. Basically Facebook is building a running chronology of major events in the lives of its users–including work.

I’ve never shared a lot about my professional life on Facebook (that’s what LinkedIn is for IMO), so for me Timeline as a resume makes no sense. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t looking at it anyway—we know recruiters use Facebook to connect with (aka spy on?) potential candidates. So if your resume says you were working as an actress in L.A. but your Timeline shows you were waiting tables in N.Y., you’re in trouble.

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Fired Fireman Files Federal Suit

Photo by Loving Earth

Photo via Flickr by Loving Earth

Back in March I posted a blurb about Richard Doherty, the fireman in Bourne, Ma. who was fired after his bosses got wind of his Facebook posts disparaging members of the community and the fire department.  After three days of disciplinary hearings found a pattern of behavior sufficiently negative, Doherty was terminated, but this week he has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the town of Bourne and the city administrator for violating his First Amendment right to free speech.

Reporter Heather Wysocki with the Cape Cod Times, whose been covering this situation from the start, has a great article up outlining the case to date. Doherty claims he was complaining only out of concern for the safety of his fellow firemen and the public (although he also complained about having to work on July 4th, which seems totally personal), and that his gripes were meant only for his personal Facebook connections to see. According to Wysocki’s article, “The fire department code also prohibits negative comments about the public or department employees, but it does not include anything specific about First Amendment rights.” So, is he a whistleblower, which generally gives some protection against retaliation, or a private citizen making opinion-based statements, which generally are protected by the First Amendment? This will be for the court to decide if the case goes that far. Doherty also appealed his firing with the state’s Civil Service Commission, which is expected to issue its findings in late July.


Teachers and students are having it out time and again on Facebook, and often the teachers seem to be less role models and more immature than some of their young students! Last month a teacher in Chicago was forced to apologize after posting pictures of one of her students on Facebook, all in an attempt to make fun of her hairstyle. According to the local ABC affiliate, the teacher asked 7 year-old Ukailya Lofton to hold her braids in front of her face, which had a Jolly Rancher tied to the end (the girl had seen the style in a magazine and asked her Mom to recreate it). The teacher then posted the picture on Facebook with the comment, “right, this is for picture day.”

The girl told her mother about the incident, who found the page online and noted the comments. The teacher has since apologized to the family, however the mother is considering a lawsuit so this story may not be over. And best of all? The teacher in question teaches computers to grade schoolers. Way to instill some digital ethics in your impressionable students!

[Original story at ABC7 WLS-TV]

5 Hour Energy Post Leaves Man Fired, Not Wired

For a moment, imagine your employer makes a product you just aren’t a fan of. In fact you dislike it so much you join a Facebook group created by other people who also dislike said product. Would you be surprised if you were later fired for it? Drew Stith of Indiana has lots of time to think of an answer after he was fired from Living Essentials, the company that makes the energy boosting drink 5 Hour Energy, for joining a “5 Hour Energy Sucks” group on Facebook.


(Original story at WGNtv.com)

Happy Holidays!

This Christmas was a big one for my family–its the first time I have lived in the same state as most of my relatives for 15 years, and the first time I lived close enough to drive to my Mom’s house. No planes involved! It also marked the first time in years I traveled without my computer. I still had my iPhone, but I took a break from connectivity. At several points in the trip I turned my phone off completely and stashed it in my purse. It didn’t take long for me to forget about it altogether. I only updated my Facebook status once during our 4 day trip, but apparently I’m in rare company–Facebook was the most visited website in the UK on Christmas day, and I’m guessing things in the US won’t be much different when the numbers come out.

This site is focused on what social media means for our work lives–there are lots of other great blogs discussing how social media is affecting our communities, our families, and our selves as individuals. But I can’t tell you how refreshed I feel after skipping a few days of check-ins, updating and DMs. I didn’t miss anything and it feels great now to ease back in to the social world. So as you move through this holiday season look at how your connectivity is affecting you and the people you care for. Try to take even a tiny break if you can stand it, from work and from the web. The holidays are a great excuse to disconnect from the web and reconnect with each other.


One Employers Take: Social Media & Background Checks

The New York Times blog on small businesses, You’re The Boss, has a Q&A with Prasad Thammineni, the founder of OfficeDrop, about his experience with background checks for hiring new employees. He discusses how he feels about checking social media accounts as a part of the process. I appreciate his nuanced approach, but I don’t know how many other bosses would take the same one. And I agree with one commenter about checking Linked In because its a professional site–that criteria doesn’t hold much weight.


What OfficeDrop Learned About Background Checks

By Dalia Fahmy, New York Times

Fans of Fired Santa Take to FB

We’ve seen how Facebook can cause you to lose a job, but can it help you get one back? Lots of fans of a certain Santa working at Macy’s Union Square in San Francisco are complaining on the company’s corporate page after Santa was fired for telling a joke that offended an adult couple. John Tooney, also known as Santa John, worked for 20 years as Santa during the holidays, greeting both children and adults.

According to several news articles, Toomey says he asks older people who sit on his lap if they’ve been good. When they answer yes, he replies: “Gee, that’s too bad.”If they ask why Santa’s so jolly, Toomey says it’s because he knows where all the naughty boys and girls live. I’ll let the reader make the call as to whether those are comments worth getting fired for, but Santa John’s fans are fired up and letting Macy’s know how they feel.

While the complaints keep rolling into Macy’s, Santa John has already gotten a great gift–local restaurant and bar Lefty O’Douls hired him at double his previous salary, and he appeared last night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

FB Diss Over Bad Tip Costs Waitress Job

Over the summer a college student in Charlotte, NC was fired after she complained about some inconsiderate patrons on her Facebook page. The article notes that the page in question is private, but I am always suspicious that people don’t know what that really means, especially in light of Facebook’s constantly changing privacy settings.


Facebook post costs waitress her job

Online gripe is like standing on a corner with a sign, lawyer says.

by Eric Frazier, Charlotte Observer

Ashley Johnson had a good job making good money as a waitress at Brixx Pizza on Sixth Street in uptown Charlotte.

But that changed about a week ago, when a couple came in for lunch and stayed for three hours – forcing her to work an hour past her quitting time.

And they left her a tip she thought was pretty measly – $5.

Johnson did what most folks who need a good rant do nowadays. When she got home, she went on Facebook. “Thanks for eating at Brixx,” she wrote, “you cheap piece of —- camper.”

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Air Force Warns Troops About Facebook Feature (AP)

Makes sense to me. If you’re in a battle, your whereabouts are good for you to know, not the enemy. But I’m surprised the Army hasn’t already given this warning.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Air Force is warning its troops to be careful when using Facebook and other popular networking sites because some new features could show the enemy exactly where U.S. forces are located in war zones.

In a warning issued on its internal website earlier this month, the Air Force said that “careless use of these services by airmen can have devastating operations security and privacy implications.” The message was also sent to senior commanders, who were asked to get the word out to their forces.

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