How a Facebook update can cost you your job
Joe O'Shea on the workers who said too much and paid the price
Published 01/09/2010 | 05:00
Unless you want to see your status change to "Just Got Sacked!", it's probably best to keep your work life and your social networking apart.
The online world is seeing a sharp increase in Facebook-related career catastrophes.
And it's not just politicians and celebrities suffering from momentary brain-freeze who are getting caught out.
With the world and your boss's granny now very much online 24/7, say anything at all about your terrible job, lazy colleagues or obnoxious customers and it is going to get around.
And the result could be an immediate and unplanned increase in the time you can devote to goofing around on the internet -- at least until your broadband gets cut off.
All it takes is one dodgy photograph, one careless tweet or a couple of status updates mentioning your boss and his probable chances of staging a drinks party in a brewery.
You will get caught out, you may get fired and you could even end up facing criminal charges.
It can happen in a variety of ways and recent cases include:
The Bed-Surfing Banker
An employee of Nationale Suisse Bank called in sick, claiming that "she could not work in front of a computer as she needed to lie in the dark".
When she was discovered to be surfing Facebook from home, she was fired. The woman maintained that she had used her iPhone to check her Facebook page. However, Nationale Suisse issued a statement saying that the incident "had destroyed its trust in the employee".
Give Me A P! (45)
Caitlin Davis, an 18-year-old cheerleader with the New England Patriots, was fired over party photos she posted to Facebook.
The pictures showed Davis and a friend leaning over a passed-out boy whose entire face and body was covered in distasteful graffiti.
The face-graffiti included the word "Penis," (accompanied by said phallic symbols), "I'm a Jew" and a couple of swastikas.
The Runaway-Mouth Juror
A juror in the UK was dismissed after she disclosed sensitive case information on her Facebook profile.
"I don't know which way to go, so I'm holding a poll!" the juror wrote, asking her Facebook friends to weigh in on the case.
A concerned friend tipped off the police and the juror was off the trial and facing possible contempt of court charges.
The Snobby Stewards
Virgin Atlantic took disciplinary action against 13 crew members who participated in a Facebook discussion that trashed the airline's safety standards and insulted passengers.
The crew posted messages on Facebook referring to passengers as "chavs".
And as if that wasn't enough -- they joked that planes were full of cockroaches and claimed the airline's jet engines were replaced four times in one year.
All 13 crew staff were sacked for "bringing the airline into disrepute".
Tip-ping Is Not A City In China
A waitress in a US pizza parlour was sacked after her boss found out that she had complained on her Facebook account about customers who tipped too little.
Ashley Johnson, a former waitress at Brixx Pizzas in North Carolina, called her customers "cheap".
But her bosses, after being shown the Facebook comment, decided she had violated company policy and showed her the door.
The Angry Mascot
Andrew Kurtz was fired from his job as a mascot for the US baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, after he used his Facebook page to criticise the team's management.
Kurtz had to hand in his giant potato-cake costume (they are local delicacies) after club bosses found out. But he was rehired when the club's fans launched a Twitter campaign calling for him to get his job back.
An employee of the Philidelphia Eagles American football team wasn't so lucky.
Eagles staffer Dan Leone was fired after he used his Facebook status update to call the team management "Retarded".
The Facebook Six
Six Australian prison guards were fired after they set up a Facebook group that trashed their boss and a plan to privatise the prison service.
The corrections officers used the Facebook page to claim that the best way to make savings would be to fire incompetent managers.
When their boss found out about the page, he tried to have the guards, who became known as The Facebook Six, fired immediately.
After six months of legal wrangling, the six won their case against the NSW Corrective Services Department.
Boring? In That Case, You're Fired
Teenager Kimberley Swann thought her job was "boring". And said so on Facebook.
Her employer, Ivell Marketing and Logistics of Clacton, UK, gave her this update: "Following your comments made on Facebook about your job and the company we feel it is better that, as you are not happy and do not enjoy your work, we end your employment with Ivell Marketing & Logistics with immediate effect."
Miss Swann later said: "I did not even put the company's name, I just put that my job was boring. They were just being nosy, going through everything. I think it is really sad, it makes them look stupid that they are going to be so petty."
Getting Fired In 140 Characters Or Less
Who needs Facebook when you can tweet your way out of a job before you have even started it?
The case of Twitter user "theconnor" started when a young US man got a sweet job with web giants Cisco Systems and tweeted; "Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work."
It wasn't long before a Cisco manager called Tim Levad spotted the tweet and shared this open response:
"Who is the hiring manager? I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web."
The man called "theconnor" immediately deleted all info from his page and set his Twitter account to private. But it was too late. Web sleuths revealed his real identity and the job offer was, according to reports, withdrawn.