Fired over MySpace or Facebook postings?
The news headlines lately are littered with stories of employees being terminated or suspended for posting pictures or blog articles. I understand if a person posts from "company equipment or on company time", that is unacceptable. When an employee is at work, it is not their time anymore; the employer is paying them for their time and attention, to be applied to the tasks that are needed to be done. But sometimes employees are being fired and terminated when doing so from home, on their time and from their own equipment.
I personally find it disturbing that an employee's personal life can be brought into the workplace and be made a determining factor on whether that person has the ability to perform the function to which they were hired. Example:
A highly skilled, highly trained biologist is responsible for splitting atoms to help find a cure for cancer. That's what they were hired for and that's what they are paid to do. That person performs their job with great success. They are responsible and careful at their job. At home, that individual enjoys posting articles and pictures on his or her social networking site that define who they are and what their interests are. These views may be acceptable to some and unacceptable to others. If that person posts their opinion about the president or a fun picture from vacation on THEIR site; who has the authority or the right to JUDGE what is right and wrong? Of course, an employer has the right at any time to terminate an employee, as does an employee have the right to terminate the employment. I understand all of this, my question and my fear comes from...what is next? Will Employers want to interview my friends, relatives, past girlfriends, past college drinking buddies, High School principal, Elementary school teachers...to try to find out what kind of person I was 10,15, 20...25 years ago? Does that have any relevance on whether I can split an atom today? If a person posts an opinion about the world's economy, or the trades their favorite sports team made in the offseason, does that matter to performing the job they were hired for and are paid to perform, and do well? Or is this an outlet for employees to cut fat from the workforce without paying unemployment wages, or is it personal office politics, where a supervisor or Manager may find an employee unlike themselves in personality. Maybe that leader wants to bring in a friend who is out of work and unemployed? Maybe the employee mistakenly ate that manager's tuna salad four months earlier, and the grudge is still there.
I know what you are saying, if the pictures are of inappropriate content, then it is justified, and I agree. We all have an idea of what is just downright inappropriate. I will never defend that content, in fact I would hope for Police intervention if it was illegal. But I may find your pictures of your last vacation, when your cousin was drunk, passed out in vomit in extremely poor taste, but is that actually grounds for termination?
I hope the people who are making these decisions do not have any skeletons in their closet, no regrettable nights from College, no issues from childhood, no dark secrets. I am sure they do, and the hidden problems are the ones that scare me the most, because you never know if your neighbor or co-worker is a serial killer, or anything for that matter.
I have an idea; How about not going to that site, not looking into an employee's "personal window". Also, How about employed people don't post any articles, and don't post any pictures, of any kind. How about the whole internet just stop being public? How about the internet be as boring as the Encyclepedia Brittanica? Just the facts (Who's facts)? Sounds like a not-so-free society if we go any further.
Isn't this what makes America what it is?