Thursday, January 17, 2008

'Drunken pirate' picture costs woman her job

So This woman posted this exact photograph on her myspace, and her employers fired her. The picture was titled 'Drunken Pirate'.

I gather that US employment laws are vastly different to those in the UK, as here you can't just be fired, you have various first warnings, official written warnings, then you eventually get fired, if you consistently don't follow your employers wishes according to your job.

But what the... this makes me so annoyed. She was fired from her job as a teacher because of this. Because it 'promotes underake drinking'. Perhaps she was a bad employee in other respects, and this just somehow added to their case. But wtf.

One of the things which always worried me about the internet (I blogged before I videoblogged) was that people might see. That people I work with, or whom I may work with in the future, might see, and judge and choose against me because of something I had talked about online. The more you express your opinions to someone (even passively) the more chance they have to disagree with you. And not give you a job.

It's only been since this youtube thing has gotten to the point of no return (being in the paper and on the TV news) that I have felt fully ok with anyone from my real life knowing about it, about it being on my CV or something I talk about the first time I meet someone. I do still have a fear that some day it will count against me should I try to get a regular job in a bank or as admin somewhere, in a pinch. I want to be creative and work in creative fields, but it is not an easy field to get a hold on, so I like to think that my options are open.


GrimBrin said...

It's that fear that leads me to hide behind my logo. That and because it looks bitchin.

psycoticsinginchick said...

That really is how it is here in America. It's the land of the free, as long as you follow all the rules, and a lot of times they won't bother explaining all the rules. I think they like not having employee's. I think they enjoy looking for reasons to fire or not hire someone. Maybe that's why I can't get a job. I'm all over the internet. Which is crazy because the people hiring me are too old to know about most of the internet that I'm on.
Just another reason I plan on moving to the UK somewhere...

Amjan said...

"it 'promotes underage drinking'"

If anything, it promotes drinking from a yellow cup.
Having said that, she didn't look that wasted, did she? Haha.

Austin said...

This lady is one of the few people that I feel is somewhat a real victim with this kind of scenario. Most of the time this type of backlash can be avoided by using common sense...her case is an exception.

In the US, everyone in the private sector practices "At-will employment"-meaning they can fire anyone "for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all." In the public sector, things are more bureaucratic.

A part of me admires people that are willing to share seeming private aspects of their life with the whole world. Its really opening yourself up, and that takes courage. (However, I think there are some people that don't have anything lose either-Chriscrocker) So my hat goes off to the talented people, like you, who really have taken advantage of the internet platform. Btw, if you don't become a CEO, I doubt it will be because of your E-Life...(jk)

WildbillthePirate said...

If I were her, I'd immediately get a lawyer & sue the school district! It doesn't appear Salacious, she doesn't appear Drunk, she's just drinking out of a cup! I guess they have a problem with the tag.I bet a lot of law firms could win her not only her job back but back pay and legal fees

There are job protections here, mostly for Union/Governmental workers & Thank God for them! If you read the paper, Government is always trying to sack or punish someone for any number of reasons- mostly bad ones!

Is is with Sadness that most american workers aren't in a Union. They really are Protection from Management Abuse!

Kimberl(eigh)y said...

That's a really really old story! I remember when it happened, it was in like 2006. She's suing them. It was a private school btw, so I don't know if she'll win.

Kimberl(eigh)y said...

And, she was going to a private religious college if I remember correctly, and they were the ones that started the fuss.

Anonymous said...

It might not be a popular view, but employment isn't a charity service. It's not a right. I can disagree with their stated reasons for firing this woman (although I'm willing to bet there's much more to it than is stated), while still respecting their right to do so.

I've been a member of a union and of management so I've seen both sides of a union and their main purpose isn't to protect their members, but to earn money. Unions are big business.

Staticharge said...

There are few restrictions in America for getting fired. If the boss just doesn't like you he can pretty much fire you on the spot. There's always the possibility of suing them for what's called "wrongful termination", or even for discrimination if you felt that's the cause (which is probably overused), but I think most people just don't give a shit and find somewhere else to work, since they probably didn't like working there in the first place.

As for teachers, that's a bit of a strange one. We tend to have a "teacher shortage" they claim, and when complaints are made against teachers who cuss or are shitty teachers in general, nothing really ever gets done. But when something less serious happens, even if not on school grounds, as long as the parents start a fuss, the school is much more likely to give the teacher the boot to protect itself. There's been a few teachers I've had/seen/heard about that weren't worth a damn, but they kept their jobs for years and years. But if a parent had found a drunken Myspace picture, I'm sure their employment would quickly come into question. Personally I'd rather have a teacher that drank on her off time, than one who wasn't worth anything during their work time.

Anyway, in some regards I don't blame them. The standards for a person being a teacher seem to be dropping in my opinion, where we have some real shitty ones these days (one of mine was arrested years later for being a pedophile), which is never good. A teacher should be a good role model by not swearing or drinking or being promiscuous anywhere near the students. The internet these days would count as being near the students, so she probably should have known better. She coulda just made her profile private and saved herself all this fuss, or simply used a more normal picture. All it takes is one parent out there to cause you a world of trouble. She should have known better, especially if it were a religious school, which kind of shows bad judgement on her part.

Sonance said...

About 8 years ago, I got into a rather heated debate with someone on Usenet, about something ridiculous like the sales performance of the Sega Dreamcast. I worked in retail, at a Virgin Megastore to be precise, and while I didn't divulge any of our company's sales information, I made reference to one of the video game sales magazines to bolster my argument with some statistics.

Anyway, my nemesis decided that this debate wasn't going their way, so they decided to call the head office of Virgin, gave them my name (most people tended to use their real name back in those days) and complained that I was divulging their secrets to the entire internet! They actually printed out doctored transcripts of the discussion we'd been having.

Thankfully, the whole issue was immediately dismissed when I was able to prove that this person had falsified information in their complaint, thanks to the DejaNews Usenet archive. I did briefly consider suing this person for defamation, but decided it wouldn't be worth the hassle.

Anyway, I learnt a lesson about just how much personal information I reveal on the internet. These days I try to have as much control as possible over what snippets of information people could possibly dig up. Not that I've anything to hide, it's just the principle of the thing.

We're now living in an era of the internet where lots of people are spreading around all sorts of personal information about themselves (either knowingly or unknowingly) and I don't think we've yet reached a point where we fully understand the consequences of that.

NusaCat said...

Old story, like Kim said. Google for "stacy snyder lawsuit" if you want all the gory details. The real issue wasn't the job (student-teaching assignments are temp work anyway), but the fact she was denied her education degree and teaching credentials, despite having good grades in all the coursework.

I hope she wins her lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Figures, she was working for religious freaks. That is a picture someone could use as a desktop wallpaper where I work and people wouldn't think anything of it. But, probably depends on where and who you work for.