Editor’s note: The Facebook comments included below are extremely offensive and of a volatile nature. However, removing them from this article would dilute the author’s point—that employing these types of workers only does your company harm.
To all the haters of social media policies:
If nothing else, a social media policy reminds employees that if they act like a fool online, it may affect their standing in the workplace and, ultimately, cost them their jobs.
Some employees, however, are just so ignorant. Thus, I doubt that any employer policy will affect how they behave online.
Here are two despicable examples:
Ignorant employee No. 1: An employee of a family medical practice in Georgia took to her Facebook page on Wednesday morning and wrote, “That damn n****r got re-elected President…. God Bless the USA!!!”
To add insult to injury, when a Facebook friend called the employee out about the racist comment, the offending employee responded, ” Lea, seriously f**k off. Find the remove friend button and delete me before I delete your n****r loving ass!”
Fortunately, once her employer learned about the Facebook postings, it deleted her employment.
Ignorant employee #2: The results of the election were still fresh on Tuesday night when, Denise Helms, a Cold Stone Creamery employee in California, posted shortly on her Facebook page, “And another 4 years of the (n–). Maybe he will get assassinated this term..!!”
After the post went viral, Ms. Helms expressed tepid remorse to a local reporter: “I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. … The assassination part is kind of harsh. I’m not saying like I would go do that or anything like that, by any means, but if it was to happen, I don’t think I’d care one bit.”
And don’t call Ms. Helms a racist, you guys. According to this report in the Modesto Bee, Helms later deleted the offensive post and replaced it with this: “So apparently my post last night about Obama got onto Twitter and Fox 40 came and interviewed me cause apparently a lot of people in Sacramento think I’m crazy and racist. WOW is all I got to say!! I’m not racist and I’m not crazy. just simply stating my opinion.!!!”
Stopping racism in the workplace
Well, she may be no racist, but she no longer holds a job with Cold Stone. You may be thinking: “California has off-duty laws protecting conduct off the job. So she can’t be fired for what she says on Facebook can she?”
Well, the last time I checked, threats against the president are a felony.
Do your part to stop racism in your workplace.
Sadly, even in 2012, we have employees who hold these 1812 views of society. For them, I say, don’t waste your time with counseling or other corrective action.
Whether it’s a Facebook post or behavior that more directly impacts the workplace, please do your part to make sure that these prejudiced employees quickly become your former employees.
Eric B. Meyer is a partner in the Labor and Employment Group of the Philadelphia-based law firm of Dilworth Paxson LLP. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. A version of this article first appeared on his blog, The Employer Handbook.