ABC news reported yesterday about an employee fired for statements made on a social networking site – this time Facebook. The employee, Massachusetts high school teacher June Talvitie-Siple, was fired by her school district for statements she made about the community, her students and their parents. The 54-year-old teacher mistakenly thought her statements were being communicated only to her circle of friends on the popular site, not to the entire world. As others have found before her, such a misconception can be costly.
What did Talvitie-Siple say on Facebook? In one post, she referred to the students as “germ-bags,” on account of the multiple times she caught illnesses from them. She also described the community and the parents as “arrogant” and “snobby.”
Whether these are the kinds of posts that warrant termination of employment is beyond the scope of this discussion.
The ABC report shows that the negative consequences of unflattering social media communications are on the rise (even though employees have yet to realize it). Companies need to think through their policies concerning these kinds of electronic communications, made both at and outside of work, particularly regarding the appropriate levels of discipline. A helpful discussion of this and other issues employers should be thinking when it comes to social media can be found here.