Employers React to 'Troubling' Tweets, Social Media Posts by Employees

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek November 28, 2017
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A tweet by a nurse at Indiana University Health is the latest example of a social media posting by an employee that has led to workplace repercussions.

The Indianapolis Star quoted a statement, issued Sunday by the health organization, that said the recently hired employee, "who was tied to troubling posts on social media this weekend is no longer an employee of IU Health." The woman had tweeted a message that read:

"Every white woman raises a detriment to society when they raise a son. Someone with the HIGHEST propensity to be a terrorist, rapist, racist, killer, and domestic violence all star. Historically every son you had should be sacrificed to the wolves B----" 


An IU Health spokesman had confirmed Saturday that the woman worked for the health system when the tweet was posted and that its HR department was investigating the incident "and the authenticity of the posts." During the investigation, the employee would have no access to patient care, according to an 11Alive news report.

SHRM Online has collected recent examples of other social media posts that have led to employee suspensions, firings and, in at least one case, to employee backlash.  

Jemele Hill: 'I Deserve a Suspension' from ESPN for Controversial Tweets

ESPN anchor Jemele Hill was suspended for two weeks in October for violating ESPN's social media policy. She said Oct. 21 that she "deserved a suspension" after she called for fans to boycott the NFL and called President Trump a "white supremacist" on Twitter.

"In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how much individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such action would have consequences. Hence this decision," a network spokesman said in a statement.
(Fox News)

 [SHRM members-only resources and tools: Social Media Policy]

Was Firing the Woman Who Flipped Off the President Too Harsh? 

Juli Briskman made news last month after a post on social media showed her flipping off President Donald Trump while she was riding a bike in northern Virginia and he passed in a motorcade. On Halloween, she told her employer, Akima in Herndon, Va., that she was the one giving the president the middle finger. Akima fired her.
(SHRM Online

Can You Be Fired for Political Social Media Posts? 

Thanks to social media, we seem to be opening up and freely discussing topics, such as politics, in the public space where we might not have done so even in the recent past.

This includes the workplace, and that raises the question of whether or not an employee can be fired for political posts on social media.
(Otten & Golden LLP blog)

70 Cornell Professors Protest Drexel's Suspension of its Professor 

Scores of Cornell University faculty members signed a letter protesting Drexel University's decision to put a professor on leave after he claimed in an Oct. 2 tweet that "white patriarchy" was to blame for the Las Vegas killing spree. The faculty at Cornell join a number of petitioners, including the American Association of University Professors, who are criticizing Drexel for taking disciplinary action against the professor. 

A tweet last year by Ciccariello-Maher, who is white, saying, "All I want for Christmas is white genocide," gained traction on conservative news outlets. Later, he criticized someone giving up their first-class seat for a uniformed soldier in a tweet that went viral.
(The Cornell Daily Sun)

U. of Tampa Fires Professor Who Called Hurricane Harvey 'Karma' for Texas 

A tweet suggesting that the devastation of Hurricane Harvey was "instant karma" for the red state of Texas has cost a University of Tampa professor his job — making him just the latest academic fired for off-duty speech.
The university first distanced itself from sociology professor Kenneth L. Storey on Aug. 28, but a tide of online outrage continued. A #FireKenStorey hashtag spread far beyond the university. Angry Facebook comments piled up. The university fired him the following day.
(Tampa Bay Times)  

Clarksville High Teacher Reassigned Over Controversial Tweets 

A Clarksville, Tenn., teacher who was previously under investigation for controversial tweets has been re-assigned for the school year.

According to Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) spokesperson Elise Shelton, Zackorie Suggs will work in the Adult Education Center for CMCSS. The West Creek High School teacher was placed under investigation in July after a series of tweets about racial issues and people with special needs. 
(Clarksville Now)    

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