Didja Know?

One night while I was at Chili’s with Kacie, I heard one of her former coworkers saying that she deleted her Myspace and Facebook pages because she was afraid of potential employers looking at them and seeing either pictures of her or people’s comments about her partying and whatnot. At the time I did not really think that companies would go that far, but did not give too much thought about it.

Well the other day I learned that this is in fact true. Companies like to also do blog searches and see if their employees or potential employees are talking about them. I really do not know how I feel about this. On one hand, I understand that you represent the company and should not be seen in a negative way outside of work. On the other hand, who decides what you say is inappropriate? Let me give you some examples.

To me, it would be a bad idea if you posted pictures of yourself doing bong hits or snorting cocaine on Facebook, and also listed that you were employed as a Financial Analyst for PNC Bank. I could understand if PNC checked that and fired you. Or if you wrote a blog about how you enjoy molesting small children. These things are illegal, and the company you work for might not appreciate hiring someone who, while an employee, conducts themselves in that manner.

Here is where it gets weird. Let’s say you write on your Myspace page about how you just got a nice job with Texas Instruments. You describe what you will be doing and how excited you are to be with the company. Then a few days later you write a post about how you went to the strip club the night before and you post some pictures of you with a stripper. The pictures contain no nudity, just you and a stripper wearing a slightly revealing outfit. Texas Instruments could tell you that they find it inappropriate. If you refused to either remove the post about the strip club, or about your job with Texas Instruments, they could fire you. Does that not seem like an infringement on a person’s rights? Maybe it’s not, I’m not a lawyer (chime in anytime Imler).

Also, you could get in trouble if you came home from work after having a really bad day, and wrote in your livejournal about how bad work sucked. You could document what is wrong with the company you work for and just vent for a few minutes, and then find out the next day that you have been terminated. I understand that the internet is public domain and you need to watch what you say, but who decides what you can and cannot talk about?

Maybe my problem is that you could go to a bar and badmouth the place you work for and nothing would happen. Companies do not hire people to go around and listen in on what people are talking about in public places, yet they do hire people to spend the day surfing the ‘net monitoring what is said about them. Just seems weird to me.

Anyways, I am sure most of you already knew this by now.

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4 thoughts on “Didja Know?

  1. since i am, in fact, in law school, and am, as of right now, contemplating a permanent offer with a firm, i can safely say that i am a soon-to-be-practicing attorney.

    well, that being said, and the classic warning that this does not constitute advice, this is completely ok. we do labor law, and i will tell you that i have already dealt with 4 myspace related punishments in schools and businesses.

    granted, most of these have been things like drunken stupidness that people have posted online. the stripper thing may actually be a viable firing.

    one thing you always have to remember, is often people are fired for two reasons. the real reason, and the legitimate reason. but because pennsylvania is an at will state, you can pretty much end the employment relationship at any time for any reason, the only question remaining being whether unemployment is available.

    as far as individual rights goes, you can’t be terminated for some expressions, such as, “i want to unionize” or whistleblowing on wrongdoing. but typically, internet posts that get people in trouble are things that involve drinking, drug use, and nudity.

    to tell you the truth, you can’t find my myspace page without knowing my ffxi name. i made sure that it is basically unfindable unless you know an alias. just in case someone out there is offended by my extreme atheism, although that is a protected position.

    rights only protect you from intrusion by the state. granted, because of some historical problems they will protect some forms of discrimination, but for the most part, you and the employer can both determine whether your image or their image represents what you want others to think of you.

    to be honest, being safe is better than being sorry. and no one is going to stop a lot of these terminations. you have a lot of rights, but so do corporations.

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