Recently a Twitter contact and fellow sex blogger was fired from her job for her private life and as she puts it, “Clark Kent” identity on the web. She blogged about her open relationship and her escapades using the nom de plume: “The Beautiful Kind”.
It appears her employer, a non-profit, was running Google searches (and possibly more background checking, I think) on current employees in an attempt to dig-up any dirt on those employees that could be potentially compromising to the company. In doing so some old information from her Twitter account came-up with her real name and her Twitter nom de plume, and thus further Googling lead to her blog and a whole lot of really dirty stories I’m sure the “researcher” and the boss wanked-off to for hours.
When she arrived at work on April 27 she was immediately dismissed from her position with the company for her private life, that had someone not dug really, really deep would never have been discovered. To boot, she wasn’t in any position in the company that anyone outside the company would have been looking for her name, in short she was an office drone, not management, her name was nowhere on articles of incorporation.
Her boss wrote to her in her termination letter:
“We simply cannot risk any possible link between our mission and the sort of photos and material that you openly share with the online public. While I know you are a good worker and an intelligent person, I hope you try to understand that our employees are held to a different standard. When it comes to private matters, such as one’s sexual explorations and preferences, our employees must keep their affairs private.”
Dear Mr. Employer, what per se is that “standard” that your employees are held to that is different than other comparable companies, and wouldn’t her private life remained private had you not been digging for something with which to nail one of your employees on? Would her private life not remained private if you had not been sticking your nose into her bedroom?
Where do you draw the line of what is your life at work and what is your life away from work? As is, our employers have great control over our after-work activities, from drinking and drugs to when we actually get time off, and anyone who signs the back of the paycheck instead of the front can tell you that according to their employer there is never a “good” time to take vacation or take a sick day.
I personally recently lost a part-time job due to breaking one of my own rules and getting involved with coworker, and although she knew up-front what my relationship status was, when shit went south with her she filed a complaint with HR against me. I was honest with HR in regards to my relationship with my wife and my relationship with her. She lied about many things. She still works there and I was let go for “inappropriate behavior” (see this post for the back story).
I also think a recent job offer was retracted after the employer that had offered the job I had accepted hooked-up to me on Facebook (obviously I pretty much had to accept his “friend request”) and three days later I got an email stating the position was “on hold” and the company “wasn’t sure which direction we are going in this division”. I think my liberal politics and support of LGBT issues did me in with this Conservative-leaning employer. My Facebook has no mention that my wife and I are in an open relationship.
As many have said though, if your boss and coworkers can’t accept you as you are, if you have to pretend to be someone else at work than who you are, do you really want to work there?
In today’s economy here in the U.S. I don’t know if the answer to that is “to thine ownself be true and be happy and broke” or “be an actor and be who they want you to be but unhappy”?
Where does the line between being who you are outside of work and discrimination in the workplace blur? Lesbian, gay, and transgendered people have been fighting this fight for years.
Regardless, the Internet and social media is rapidly redefining the workplace and workers’ place in it.