A rising number of employees are making careless comments about their work, managers or customers on the popular social media platform Facebook. Yet it probably comes as no surprise that Facebook firings are on the rise. Cases of employers firing employees for social media slipups have been consistent in the news over the past few years.
Just in case you need a refresher of what not to say online, here’s a timeline of 10 ridiculous examples of how Facebook can get you fired.
October 31, 2008: A group of thirteen cabin crew staff have been sacked by Virgin Atlantic after criticising the airline’s safety standards and calling passengers “chavs” on Facebook. According to BBC News, a spokesman for the airline said that “there was no justification for Facebook to be used as a sounding board for staff of any company to criticise the very passengers who ultimately pay their salaries.”
February 26, 2009: A teenage office worker from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, was fired for calling her job “boring”. According to The Daily Mail, Kimberley Swann posted comments like “First day at work. Omg (oh my god)!! So dull!!” and “All I do is shred holepunch and scan paper!!!” [sic]. Swann was canned after her boss discovered the comments.
March 29, 2009: A 27-year-old prison warden, who worked at HMP Leicester, was fired for making friends with 13 criminals on Facebook. There were photos on his profile showing him with a criminal Facebook-friend and investigations also proved that he had phoned some of his criminal Facebook-friends.
April 27, 2009: A Swiss insurance worker was let-go after calling in sick, and then logging into Facebook on her “sick day”. Reuters reported that the women said she had a migraine and called out of work because the light from a computer would bother her and she needed to lie in a dark room. When her employer caught her surfing Facebook, it was presumed that she was indeed well enough to sit in front of a computer, and she was let go.
August 14, 2009: A woman only known as “Lindsay” was fired for insulting her boss on Facebook. She called him a “total pervy w****r”, but forgot that she had added him as a friend and he could read her status update. As a consequence, he responded: “Firstly, don’t flatter yourself. Secondly, you’ve worked here 5 months and didn’t work out that I’m gay? Thirdly, that ‘s**t stuff’ is called your ‘job’[...]“. He then told her right there on Facebook not to bother coming back to work.
March 19, 2010: A TUI Travel call centre agent was sacked after calling a colleague a “brown-nosing cow” on Facebook. According to The Mirror, TUI said: “Our policy states staff should not post comments that could be regarded as bullying, harassment or discrimination against employees.” 26-year old Emma Short was then fired for breaching company internet policy.
April 19, 2010: Adam Webb, the web campaign organiser for Liberal Democrats candidate Colin Eldridge, has been sacked for leaving obscene comments about religion on Facebook. He responded to an article about the rise of creationist theory in education by posting a request for “all religious people to just f**k off”. He also attached a link to an article saying certain people should be “banned from breeding”, including “vile women with too many kids”.
May 17, 2010: Ashley Johnson, a waitress from North Carolina, was fired from her job at a Brixx pizzeria after posting a negative comment about two of her customers. Johnson called the customers — who left her a $5 tip after sitting at their table for three hours – “cheap”. Though she did not mention the names of the customers, Johnson did include the name of the pizzeria in her post. A few days later, management called her to tell her she was fired for violating the restaurant’s social media policy.
June 10, 2010: Five California nurses were terminated after it was discovered that they were discussing patient cases on the site. The situation was investigated for weeks by both the nurses’ employer (Tri City Medical Center in San Diego) and the California Department of Health, before the nurses were fired for allegedly violating privacy laws.
August 19, 2010: Simone Cox, a care assistant from Bentley, Doncaster, was fired for posting insults about the elderly residents she was supposed to be caring for. The owner of the care home said the firm was “shocked and appalled” by the comments about residents, many of whom suffer dementia.
Whether you think the above are examples of employees exercising free speech or simple stupidity, it seems as if Facebook postings are fair grounds for termination at many employers. With that in mind, post at your own risk.