Top Lacoste Salesman Posts Paycheck On Instagram, Gets Fired


Wade Groom isn't a corporate-type guy. But, in his words, he is a "helluva salesman" and proved it selling clothing for Lacoste Manhattan flagship store, becoming the top salesperson for the entire US branch of the chain, as the blog Gothamist reported:

According to internal documents provided by Groom, in his biggest week he sold $39,315 worth of merchandise, $12,000 more than the next-highest clerk.

That's behind him, though, as he was allegedly fired for posting a picture of his paycheck to Instagram, as Gothamist reported. The corporate office in France reportedly heard about the image and said that it was a breach of the employee confidentiality agreement.

"I guess I signed a confidentiality agreement with something about social media, but who reads those?" Groom told AOL Jobs in a phone interview. "I had to sign to get the job."

Groom also says that the post wasn't about Lacoste at all. "I was frustrated at the moment," he said. "It was sort of an impulsive thing that was spawned out of the frustration of being a single dad and all the stress that comes out of that." He said that he loved the job and the money he was making.

AOL Jobs tried to contact Lacoste but did not receive a response.

Update 7-Aug-2013 12:08 PM: A Lacoste spokesperson said that the company "does not wish to comment on this subject."

The check that he posted on Instagram showed an amount of $2,448.41; Groom received $15 an hour and a 3 percent commission before he was fired, New York Metro reports. On his Facebook page, he said he was happy with his pay; as he explained in interviews, he meant the Instagram post as "an artistic and personal statement," commenting on the high cost of his New York apartment.

It's not news that people are getting fired for Instagram posts. Usually it's because the social media contents are provocative: badmouthing customers or posting images that give the employer a bad name. But is showing your paycheck really in the same category? Maybe so.

Can you tell others your pay?
You'd think that sharing how much you're paid would not get you in trouble with your employer. And, according to AOL Jobs blogger and employment attorney Donna Ballman, you would often be right in most cases. If you're not a supervisor, discussing pay is part of the legally-protected activity of discussing working conditions with colleagues, says Ballman, noting it is a right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act.

However, Groom technically took a big step beyond talking to fellow employees when he posted on his private Instagram account which was visible to hundreds of people, most of whom had nothing to do with Lacoste.

Why employers might get freaky about your being leaky
A public post is far more than sharing information among colleagues. By its nature, the Instagram post potentially made Groom's pay -- a condition of his work -- broadly available. That's when a confidentiality agreement would kick in.

Although the information may seem innocent, it probably isn't to the employer. Showing the details could help a competitor better understand Lacoste's labor costs, an important fact that a rival's corporate competitive intelligence program would love to have.

Revealing pay can lead to other employees assuming, whether rightly or wrongly, that they have been discriminated against and, ultimately, lawsuits to fight.In addition, by showing a less-than-impressive number for the top salesperson, potential employees might shy away from seeking a job at the company. That's why a company might quickly clamp down and punish any leak.

Are you complaining?
The picture of the paycheck was also accompanied by some online commentary that, while not directed at the company, could have been interpreted as less than flattering to the company:

Paycheck. Still silly to me. Ever since I was a kid I've thought it was completely insane that we have to work all our lives. I still feel that way. Especially when it's only enough to live in a third world apartment with s****y everything. Which for some reason in NYC is ok. Anywhere else only trailer trash live this way. I'm done with it.

On his Facebook page, Groom says that he was actually happy with his pay. However, companies often react badly to employees who seem as though they are complaining, particularly in public. As Ballman has noted before in an AOL Jobs post, griping only about your own working conditions is not protected by law.

A divorced father with twin four-year-olds, Groom says he now is in tough situation. He needs to find a job. Although he meant the image of the check and his accompanying comment as "an artistic and personal statement," a comment on his high rent for a studio and tough living situation, he says he "didn't mean any harm," as he said in an interview with New York Metro. Luckily, his ex-wife has a good job, as Groom told AOL Jobs, so things shouldn't be dire for the kids on all fronts.

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