Facebook: The New Pink Slip

Angela Eklund

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A professor at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania was allegedly suspended for posting complaints about her work that contained threats of violence on Facebook, highlighting the increase in disciplinary action towards workers due to inappropriateness online.

Gloria Gadsen wrote in January on her Facebook, “Does anyone know where I can find a very discrete hitman? Yes, it’s been that kind of day.” Then in February she wrote, “had a good day today. DIDN’T want to kill even one student. :-). Now Friday was a different story.” Gadsen claimed that all her posts were to be taken as jokes, and that only her friends and family were meant to see.

However Marilyn Wells, ESU’s Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, told The Chronicle of Education last week that “Given the climate of security concerns in academia, the university has an obligation to take all threats seriously and act accordingly.”

Gadsen isn’t the only one whose online activity has landed her in trouble. PinnacleHealth System, also located in Pennsylvania, has fired more than one employee over information posted on Facebook. A nurse in Minnesota was fired in 2009 after posting an unauthorized photo of herself and a patient on her Facebook profile, violating the patient’s rights to privacy. A stadium operations worker was fired after criticizing his employer, the Philadelphia Eagles, in one Facebook post that read, “Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver … Dam Eagles R Retarted!!”

These are just a few cases among the many that this new online venue for information has made possible. However, used correctly, Facebook can be an innovative tool.

Applications allowing resumes to be viewed easily by prospective employers are available on Facebook, and employers often use Facebook as a pre-interview for job applicants.

But Facebook is not always a valid form of communication, and signals can get mixed. An increasing trend in disciplinary action suggests that employees be aware of who can see their profiles and what has been published on them.

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The Student News Source of the University of New Haven
Facebook: The New Pink Slip