Think before you post. Can social networking get you fired?

Before logging on to your Facebook account to complain about a cheap customer or your obnoxious boss, you might want to think twice. Ashley Johnson, a 22-year-old waitress at a pizza parlor in North Carolina, found out the hard way that speaking your mind on the Internet can get you fired.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Johnson logged into Facebook and complained about a couple who sat at her table for three hours and left a $5 tip. The waitress called the couple cheap and mentioned the restaurant – Brixx Pizza – by name. Citing company policy that forbids employees from speaking negatively about customers, Brixx officials fired Johnson.

Do you think Brixx was right to fire Johnson or did they violate her freedom of speech? Was the young waitress wrong to express her complaints on a public forum?

Have you ever been burned when you posted something that happened at your workplace? What’s your company’s social networking policy? Do you think it’s fair?

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26 comments Add your comment

DD

May 18th, 2010
3:02 pm

Freedom of speech only means freedom from consequences by the Government. It doesn’t mean freedom of consequences from your employer if you violate a company policy. If you feel the need to say something that is against policy, either do so anonymously or find another employer — two things you remain completely free to do.

Toenail

May 18th, 2010
3:08 pm

I think the company overreacted. They should have just told her that in the future don’t say things about customers. Hopefully the customer got the message. They were very cheap!

carefulwhatyousay

May 18th, 2010
3:11 pm

I agree with the employer, you can’t go calling out the customers and expect me to feel that is GOOD for business. If anything- when you need to ‘vent’ in that situation by logging on to a social networking site, take my advice I give everyone… SPEAK AS VAGUE AS POSSIBLE WHILE STILL GETTING YOUR POINT ACROSS.

No mention of the business name, or even referencing the specific situation… If you wait until your free time (lunch break, etc.) and simply post: “Some people can be so cheap and rude”– I doubt you get fired. Anyone who REALLY wants the scoop can call you if they’re that nosey. lol.

Not Going To Use My Usual Name

May 18th, 2010
3:22 pm

Hmm. My question: had she friended her boss (or an employee she only knew through the business)? Or did she use the PC at Brixx Pizza? If neither of those things is true, she probably had an expectation of privacy. This is one very good reason to check those Facebook privacy settings.

Poor kid. $5 tip for three hours at her table is just plain rude, and if you can’t complain about your job to your friends, then we have bigger problems… (note: she was posting on Facebook, not to the general public). Also, she wasn’t criticizing her employer but a couple who came to the employer and behaved poorly.

That strikes me as a place I wouldn’t want to eat, because they don’t care very much about the needs of employees. That doesn’t get you the highest caliber of employee.

Ken Thompson

May 18th, 2010
3:29 pm

Stupidity has its price. Its stupid to criticize your employer/boss/etc on-line where they may possibly see it. Its a tough lesson but as stupidity has its price

RxDawg

May 18th, 2010
3:31 pm

That girl had every right to complain on the internet about the couple in that restaurant.

That restaurant had every right to fire that girl that complained.

Just the facts mamn.

Freedom rings

May 18th, 2010
3:48 pm

People seem to misunderstand the concept of free speech. It doesn’t mean you are free from any repurcussions of what you say. The restaurant wanted to make a point. They exercised their right to free speech when the said ‘you are fired’. While the customer did take a table for 3 hours, it would be interesting to hear the customers side. Maybe she didn’t give very good service or was rude. Maybe they thought a $5 tip on a $20 bill was enough.

IMO she deserved to be fired for putting down her employers customers on what IS a public forum.

fins

May 18th, 2010
3:57 pm

My company recently placed all employees under new policy regarding social networking. No friends that are associated with our firm. Period. I’ve de-friend and blocked all my co-workers. My life has been so much easier these days because of their implemented policy. I don’t vent my dislikes anyway but to know that ‘big man’ wasn’t watching or caring what funny post I made just makes it easy at work. Not to mention, they have blocked our internet use also with ALL social networking pages…..although everyone here owns a blackberry or iphone except me. Still keeps me out of the doghouse. If no one was smart enough to use the ‘privacy’ settings, they will get caught sooner or later during business hours playing on social networking. (or at least I’d like to hope that there’s some justice in the world!)

As for this young lady….generalize generalize generalize! If anyone is watching your post (and more than you know are!!), instead of being pissed off, write a funny that no one would get!!

Mama

May 18th, 2010
4:07 pm

Never friend anyone at work. Not even your friends at work; just in case they are friends with management. And check your privacy settings. For an employer to search to see what you’re posting on social networks amounts to stalking in my book. They may as well be sitting outside your house with an electronic listening device. Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right.

Ron Mexico

May 18th, 2010
4:20 pm

I complain about my stupid boss and company all the time on FB. Don’t have any of them as friends though, that would be dumb.

RightOn

May 18th, 2010
4:29 pm

@Mama you are so right!!! Your friends that you think are your friends at work are really not. They will turn you in a heartbeat. If it comes down to saving their job verses yours you are out. Facebook has been nothing but a drama fest! Thank God for the ignore and block button….

rebeldawg

May 18th, 2010
4:47 pm

Anyone that whines about their day on facebook or twitter are just fishing for sympathy from others which is pretty pathetic and childish. She was probably the tattle tale in elementry school as well. Personally I’m glad she was fired and maybe she will learn that nothing good comes from whining.

Annie

May 18th, 2010
4:56 pm

It’s too bad that this girl got fired, but she should have thought it out before posting. I notice that a lot of people post WAY TOO MUCH feelings and information about situations and such on social networks like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. Anyone who does that, should expect some kind of fallout for doing so. The best bet is to stay vague about situations. Don’t mention exact names or places. Besides, the ones who know you best will read between the lines and know EXACTLY what you are saying. Some lessons are really a kick in the butt.

Mrs. Norris

May 18th, 2010
11:36 pm

I miss the old days when people talked face to face and the phone was the next best thing. Having said that, if she was a good waitress the company was foolish to let her go. They should have just reprimanded her if she broke company policies. People do make mistakes. If she was a bad waitress, I guess they took this opportunity to get rid of her. As for the couple who left a five dollar tip after holding a table for three hours and making the waitress work past her quitting time, they are just rude and inconsiderate. Please remember waitresses work mostly for tips and if you take up a table for three hours, you are taking the place of other patrons that could be sitting in her area. How would you like to make $20 for three hours work and don’t you like to get off on time?

Kyle

May 19th, 2010
6:59 am

They were cheap. They should be ashamed. This girl vented on her PRIVATE FACEBOOK profile and got ratted out by “friend.” It was not public. Her boss would never have seen it nor would the crappy tippers. Someone violated her privacy rights and printed her rant and took it to her boss. They should be prosecuted. Everyone has a bad day. Everyone needs to vent.

Kyle

May 19th, 2010
7:01 am

Brixx has cost themselves millions in sales due to this….and that’s why I smile.

Kyle

May 19th, 2010
7:03 am

We are starting a website called BoycottBrixx.com feel free to vent there.

Getaway

May 19th, 2010
7:12 am

Companies have to look out for their interests even in the social networking sites. Your employees are the face and voice of your company. This might seem relatively minor, but what if she made statements about how she retaliated? She would open the company for a lawsuit. My company has policies that forbid employees to speak on FB(or elsewhere) on issues related to the company or our industry.
BTW, Brixx is a great pizza place. Custom pies, huge beer and wine selection, other great Italian dishes. Always in great locations. One of my favorite hang outs. But I tip.

S

May 19th, 2010
8:38 am

When are people going to stand up for themselves? We’re letting companies dictate what you say on your off time public forum or not? Scenario: You are at the movies with your friend talking about your day and you mention the above just in passing. It so happens someone from the company is at the movies too and hears you, reports you and they fire you. That’s your private conversation with someone personal to you and according to their policy you can’t do that? If that’s the case you could be in Timbuktu or on the other side of the globe where people could care less about the company and they fire you over what you say about a customer. That is too much control and we should be concerned. It’s these little issues that we allow that morph in to larger issues that we later cry about, but are powerless to do anything about since we allowed the smaller ones to get by in the first place.

Ted

May 19th, 2010
8:43 am

Won’t eat at Brixx. She had a right to complain – privately. Brixx went ahead and made it public through this action.

Seriously, how many here ever hear of this story but for them firing her. Yes, it may have been “policy” – but are you telling me they could not have handled internally, reprimanded her and moved on?!? You get pulled for speeding, cop has every right to ticket you – or let you off with a warning.

The way Brixx found out is not good – effectively cyber-stalking their employees. What else do they do? Track customers as well? Wouldn’t want to work there or even eat there if this is the type of place they are. I’m sure many more do it – but at least they are discreet. Perhaps the girl was stupid for making this post – but Brixx was just as stupid for making this public.

MSG

May 19th, 2010
8:54 am

she deserved what she got. it’s unprofessional to do that even if you’re not at work.

citizennancy

May 19th, 2010
11:12 am

It’s unfortunate that so many working american’s are behaving like ‘good germans’ who thought
they were doing everyone a favor buy turning ‘jews’ into the government. By getting outspoken people fired because you don’t agree with them is completely outrageous not to mention fascist. The last time I checked, this was America and I can say whatever I want to say. But this story and many others like it reminds me of a Noam Chomsky quote: “You can say whatever you want in America, as long as its not the truth.”

CC

May 19th, 2010
4:55 pm

DD, so a companies “policy” supersedes the 1st amendment? It is always interesting how these so called “freedoms” are NOT freedoms at all. For example: Right to bare arms. But in California, you have little to no rights to reasonably defend yourself.

First sign of this country tunring into a socialist, facist or communist country is when we lose our Bill of Rights or Civil Liberities. So we’re pretty much there.

as if

June 2nd, 2010
7:51 pm

Um I plead the 5th on the grounds that what I post here could be used to self-incriminate and thus terminate me from my current position. Couldn’t people google this site and find out what you posted?

Dan

June 15th, 2010
8:40 am

I completely agree with S.

Companies have no right to make policies that extend to what you can and can’t do outside of work on your own time, whether it’s regarding the comments you make and opinions you express, or other things such as the TV shows or movies you watch, the music you listen to or the activities you partake in. Your personal life is outside their ‘jurisdiction’, and employers simply do not have the authority to penalize you for what you do in it.

On another note – do employers seriously expect everyone to like their jobs? If hating your job is a fireable offense, then the majority of the population should be unemployed, because most people do, and the only reason they work is because they have to to make a living. Are companies run by such control freaks that employees are expected to think and feel only what their bosses want them to? Or are said bosses just so damn naive that they honestly believe that everyone loves working for them?

Atlantaphotog

August 6th, 2010
9:33 am

I used to work in the restaurant business many years ago. While I’ll agree that many restaurant employees can mouth off more than they should, and some are even twits, the fact is there is a process when it comes to firing someone.

This girl did not confront the customers face-to-face and chew them out. THAT would have been grounds for immediate firing. She posted a vent on HER Facebook page. Grants, it was really “duh” to mention the specifics of where she worked when this happened, but it’s not the same as if she verbally assaulted the customers while AT work.

The restaurant over did it. She should have been called into the manager’s office and chewed out, maybe had a day or two knocked off her schedule as punishment, written up in her file, and that was it. But then, I’ve been to Charlotte – it’s kind of a “land that time forgot” when it comes to common sense anyway, so this mentality by her superiors doesn’t exactly shock me, either.