Employee Fired for Tweeting About Cutting Out Early
"We start summer hours today. That means most of the staff leave at noon, many to hit the links. Do you observe summer hours? What do you do?"
Sounds like a relatively harmless tweet, right? But it was enough to get social media specialist Vanessa Williams, who worked for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., fired the very next day. Her supervisor was steamed that she'd sent that message from the organization's official Twitter account, and here's why:
President and CEO Phil Mitman told The Morning Call that the messages were "out of line" and did not help with the agency's attempts to use social media to advance its mission, which is to help employers expand and bring new businesses to the Valley. The agency is partly funded by tax dollars, and it could look like that money is being squandered on employees who goof off.
Mitman went on to explain that his agency's flexible summer hours policy, in place for several years, allows workers to leave early on Fridays only if they already have put in 40 hours of work. He also stated that, contrary to the tweet, no one left early that Friday, and LVEDC employees hadn't received raises in four years, due to budget cuts.
"I think this is an interesting lesson for all of us about the use of social media and about how chatty and how much information goes out there immediately and what the consequences are," Mitman told The Morning Call.
OK, that's a logical explanation of an inappropriate Tweet from a company Twitter account. But it wasn't nearly as bad as some of the Tweets that have been publicized lately, and politicians like Anthony Wiener haven't lost their jobs over them. Williams made an unintentional mistake. Would a warning have been more in line, perhaps? The issue is certainly getting more media attention because of the firing, whereas it might have gone unnoticed otherwise.
Williams thinks the punishment was unnecessarily harsh and wants to clear her name. She has hired a lawyer, according to Philly.com. What's your opinion?
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