Human Resources News & Insights

Employees & Facebook: OK to fire for personal posts?

We can all probably agree on this: Criticizing your employer on the Web is a stupid thing to do. But what should the punishment be?

Dan Leone was the west gate chief on game days at the Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field. He worked on game days for the Eagles for six years.

Recently, he became upset at the Eagles’ decision to let longtime Safety Brian Dawkins sign with the Denver Broncos.

Leone expressed his frustration with Dawkins’ departure by posting this on his Facebook page: “Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver … Dam Eagles R Retarted!!” (We haven’t corrected any spelling in the post.)

Leone regretted his post soon after making it and took it down.

Less than two days after posting his remarks, Leone says he was contacted by the team’s director of event operations, Leonard Bonacci, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Leone says Bonacci told him they had to talk about the Facebook post.

Two days later, Leone says, he received a call from the team’s guest services manager, Rachel Vitagliano, who fired him over the phone in a call that lasted less than 10 minutes. Leone says he never heard back from Bonacci.

Leone says he was ready to apologize, and did so when he got the call that he was fired. He says Vitagliano didn’t want to hear it and told him he couldn’t be trusted, the post made the team look bad and the only option was to fire him.

As you might imagine, Leone’s story has become a célèbre. The article in the Inquirer notes that he grew up in the shadow of the Eagles’ old Veterans Stadium and that he has a neurological disorder called transverse myelitis. The disorder requires him to do his job at the stadium sometimes in a wheelchair.

The title of the article is a rallying cry: Cold Eagles sure are thin-skinned. It suggests the Eagles could have handled the situation with a warning, a suspension and that Leone deserved a face-to-face meeting even though he was a part-time employee.

Leone says, “If they called me right now and told me to come back to work, I would. I’m not holding any grudges. I just want to do my job.”

So, what do you think? Was the firing too harsh? What about the way it was allegedly handled? (The Eagles won’t comment.) Is a suspension with a warning a better way to handle this situation? Does it depend on exactly what’s said in an employee’s Web post? How would you handle an employee’s Web post critical of your company?

Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.

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Comments

  1. Depends on his work record, etc., but from the sound of the article, it does seem to me like termination was a little harsh. It sounds like he recognized his error in judgement almost immediately and corrected the error on his own before the team even contacted him. Plus, it’s not like this guy is an assistant coach or something (essentially a member of management). To me there’s a difference between rank and file employees making a negative post and management doing so.

    Based on the description of the situation in the article, I wouldn’t have recommended termination.

  2. Perhaps instead of being fired he should have been sent back to school to learn to spell.

  3. They may have been harsh, but it shows that people need to be careful about what they post on the internet.

  4. That’s why I’m a Steelers fan. Boooo Eagles!!! That was a bit over the top for any corporation. He was a part time employee, not the head coach, not the owner, and not even a PR person. I guess people are no longer allowed to have personal feelings about a particular player in an organization, or voice it at least. I just wonder what they would have done if he would have had a Cowboys bumpersticker.

  5. I don’t believe that termination was the solution. Management should have spoken with him and reviewed his employment history. If he has been a good employee and the company has disciplinary process it should have been started. The decision to terminate an employee via phone is as unprofessional as the employee posting his comments. The fact that they did not meet with the employee to discuss is also a sign that the company believes they were overacting. If he had been in a management position I can understand stronger action take but termination was too much for a first time offense.
    At our company we encourage our associates to express their opinions we have however given them recommendations on how to express those opinions in a profession manner and forum which is open for discussion. In my opinion and employer that cannot accept constructive criticism from its associates should only hire robots that they can program to agree to everything.

  6. Pro sports never apply the same punishment for the same actions to all of their employees. We have seen plenty of athletes bad mouth the team – get fined by the NFL but never get cut from the team.

    It was a major over reaction becuase;

    The post was removed quickly –
    The employee apologized –

  7. It was harsh. Especially coming from a team whose fanbase rains boos upon McNabb and the rest of their team at every turn. You can’t fire them all!

  8. This was a “way over the top” response. A discussion and written warning would have been more than enough, particularly since the employee quickly realized their mistake and corrected it. The manager and team need to lighten up – it’s sports!

  9. That is exactly right Mike. How can a company fire someone for being critical of the organization when there is constant media scrutiny surrounding players and coaches and the things they say? I wonder if my company would fire me if I were to be critical on facebook about someone being moved from sales to accounting? Oh wait, that’s right, my company DOESN’T montitor what I say on facebook. When we start firing people for blogging their opinion we are on a fast track to no longer being a democratic nation.

  10. The reaction of the Eagles managment was over the top. No need to fire a part-time employee for voicing an opinion. Besides, he removed the post and was willing to apologize. The HR person who was not willing to address firing the person showed very bad taste. It sounds as if the entire situation was mishandled.

  11. Seems way harsh to me. Now if he had given up some sort of confidential information that might be different.

  12. Personally I think people post way much information on facebook, but in this case the Eagles went over the top with their knee jerk response. Terminating anyone over the phone is very unprofessional especially for a so called “professional sports team”. Every “arm chair quarterback” is entitled to their opinion, they could have called him into the HR office, spoken to him & either given him a verbal warning or maybe a 1 day suspension.

    Lighten up Eagles, you’re not that good!

    Go PACKERS!

  13. I support the firing. I believe that even though it was a spur of the moment post and taken down a couple of days later it reveals some deep rooted true feelings from the employee that cannot be ignored. No different than if you find out your employee is sending out their resume or going on job interviews and then saying they “just wanted to see what else was out there but never intended to leave”. WRONG. Of course they are not going to face up to the real causes of their actions because at that moment in time they need the job they have.

    We have had to take the same actions as the Eagles with a former employee here. Great attendance record and very accurate in her work but her complaints to her friends on her facebook and my space pages regarding her feelings of being in a dead end job buried by numbers could not be ignored as it revealed her true feelings and unhappiness in the position. We were forced to let her go. Of course, when confronted the story changes. It always does.

  14. What has happened to fifth amendment rights in the age of cyberspace? The reaction was ridiculous and over the top. A warning should be the most he received. It was not a slanderous comment, just personal opinion of a fan who happens to work at the stadium. Geez, lighten up

  15. I think the Eagles acted on impulse. There were much better ways to handle this situation without resorting to termination. I believe that the company could have still used this as an example to other employees without firing an individual that, from the article, showed no signs of other disciplinary problems.

  16. If there was no specific company “policy” then a warning would have been appropriate. But I think this is a good reminder that you shouldn’t put anything negative or offensive in print. Why take the risk? Especially today when we all need our job.

  17. Get a Myspace!

  18. thank you John!! What happen to freedom of speech!!!

  19. I think the punishment was a bit harsh. A verbal warning addressing his behavior would have been more appropriate.
    I also wonder, should the Eagles have a policy stating that they will look in public websites and if negativity is found they will be disciplined? There seems to be a fine line in this situation between an employees personal life and work life.

  20. Mary –

    Dear God – You all fire people based on their feelings – are people not allowed to vent ever! Your company and its policies suck! Your company is crap! Ha and you cannot fire me :-)–

  21. Wow, I wouldn’t want to work for Mary’s company. They actually fired someone for being unhappy and expressing that to their friends, regardless of the forum. Ouch!!

  22. It just seems like this was a feeble excuse to get rid of him.

  23. If I were on company time and used my company’s e-mail to bad-mouth the company, I would imagine that would be a problem because I believe our IT department monitors such activities. However, if I was off the clock and sitting at home, and made a comment via facebook about my company, I’d be a little ticked if I was contacted a couple days later about something I had said on my own time. From what I understand, he was speaking as an Eagle’s fan, not an employee. Last I checked, fans are allowed to voice their opinion, are they not? Furthermore he removed his post, which obviously shows he regretted it, and he wanted to apologize. What company wouldn’t consider keeping him on staff?

  24. To Mary H. I am somewhat surprised that your company can keep good employees. If attendence and worlk performance are good a competent HR department addresses the issues raised by a good employee. Good employees are hard to find. Firing the employee is counter productive and expensive as you can quite often go through several new employees trying to get a good fit. You fire when policy dictates or when poor performance demands it. You fired the wrong employee if you let this girl go. The proper approach would have been to discuss the issue with the employyee and see if the issues raised were real. If so making adjustments so the employee has a career path as they aspire to is well worth the effort. All to many employees look at work as a paycheck. This girl obviously wanted to advance within the company and contribute. These are the kind of employees who pay divedends far beyond the value of thier paycheck. Your failure to realize this shows a lack of vision that is astounding.

  25. My question is: Doesn’t the Eagles HR department have better things to do than troll the internet, reading the Facebook pages of PT employees?

    They could be using that time to polish their Super Bowl trophies. Oh wait…. 🙂

  26. Everyone is entitled to their option, freedom of speech!! Eagle were wrong, did this employe post this during his personal time, then I feel they had no right firing him. We all have bad day and should be aloud to vent. At times, we all hate our jobs, but is that a reason to be fired??

    This also brings up the point, that you Facebook page should be only visible by friends.

  27. One like Mary Howe’s company –

    She loves to fire people for their own thoughts and emotions. Not based upon the work ethic, skills or achievements.

  28. Most (reasonable) employers counsel employees. We have had employees with “negative attitudes” or who have been heard complaining about a policy or a job duty. That is where a good manager steps in and talks to the person to either alleviate the situation, or warn the person that if they negatively impact business, they risk termination.
    While it is bad judgment to slam your employer on the internet, this guy is entitled to his opinion and if you poll most Eagles fans, they will agree with him.

  29. Say What? says:

    I should be able to say whatever I want on my own time and on my own forum. If I want to say, “I hate my job!!” on a Facebook page, I should be able to. I’m sorry but if I even got detailed and said, “I hate my boss, John Smith, the Vice-President of XYZ, Inc.!!!” that should not merit termination. I have a right to voice my opinions on my own time. This guy merely said the Eagles were retarded. So what?? He didn’t say, “Hey, I work for the Eagles and they are retarded and you should boycott their games and here is the owner’s cell phone number where you can call and complain.” Please, this was ridiculous and situations like this why there are all of these restrictive laws popping up to govern every little thing. So what if I think my company is stupid or if I think it’s dead-end, etc. I am entitled to my opinion. Hopefully the bosses in most companies don’t become mind readers because 90% of the employees out there will get fired for their thoughts!!

  30. This does seem harsh, but there is a business in Nashville that probably would have done the same thing. They have a rule against what they call ‘gossip.’ If you complain to someone who can’t do anything about the situation, that’s gossip, and it’s a fatal offense – no second chances, no explanations – you’re out the door. If you have a complaint, you discuss it with a supervisor or manager and offer some solutions as well. This roots out people who like to keep controversy going. No job is perfect, but you can make it better by working with the company instead of working against it.

  31. To Mary,

    Would you rather have an employee with a poor attendence record that makes mistakes but has never spoken negatively about the company or an employee with a great attendence record that does very accurate work and occasionally vents to friends? That is the craziest thing I have ever heard!

  32. T.Hudspeth says:

    I think the challenge here is that no bonafide policies/laws/rules exist for the most part when it comes to posting things about employers from their employees. Yes, I believe that terminating him was a bit drastic, especially if he was a good employee. However, it seems that he wasn’t that great because not too much consideration was given when it came to dismissing him. It was almost as if they were looking for a reason to sever their ties with this individual.

    As this relates to organizations, I ponder how something like this could be handled legally. It reminds me of that age old argument: what I do when I am not working is my own business – including drugs and drinking. Is that right? I would imagine that the same argument exist when it comes to these social networking sites. If this is my personal page and I blast my employer, isn’t that ‘my’ business? Again, this is not my belief but an argument that many people will and have made.

    Does anyone know if there are companies out there who have erected policies to combat such matters? Sure there are confidentiality agreements and nondisclosures — but that is not the same thing (exactly) as posting negative comments about your manager based on something they did or did not do. Is it?

  33. LK Suppine says:

    I think the punishment fit the crime perfectly. This was a serious offense. When you get upset as a fan and a par time worker, your views should no be posted on the internet. PLUS – Do I need to talk about the spelling?

    This has terminate me all over it. He did not give the managment any choice but to fire him via the phone line due to his silly rant. He painted himself in the corner without any optons. I could understand if they fired him for something minor like failing a drug test or tested positive for steriods or beating his wife/girlfriend or was brandishing a weapon in a night club or drug possession or altercations with police officers and so forth. If he done one of those things, this would have never made the news. if they did fire him for one of those thing, then we would all knwo they were practing ADA discrimination. I think the facebook crime speaks for itself. MAY THAT BE A WARNING TO THE EAGLES PLAYERS AS WELL!

    *DISCLAIMER* For those who may not have caught the sarcasim as well as the heavy tone of tongue in cheek – I think this person got the biggest raw deal of a lifetime. Termination? This was mild – maybe they need to have him at their press conferences!

  34. Mary H………OMG…..GET REAL!!!!

  35. To me, the true definition of a good employee would include attitude. I agree with Mike in that definitely trying to understand why someone would have a poor attitude is important, as opposed to just letting them go. If the poor attitude is unfounded, then it is a legitimate concern that cannot be ignored, as Mary stated.

    Attitudes are infectious, and one bad apple, regardless of how stellar their attendance is, can have a devastating impact on the rest of the team. When Mike speaks about looking ways to motivate the employee, I agree as well. But I also understand that there are people whose mission in life is to always have something to complain about.

    The Eagles’ employee did something that would justify discipline (maybe not termination, but I would consider it a serious enough offense to skip levels of progressive discipline). What makes a bad apple more difficult to manage when the employee is otherwise doing their job and not violating any policies. My thoughts would be that in that situation, as the employer, your focus should shift to how you keep others from being affected by this one person’s attitude.

  36. I think it is absolutely ridiculous! It is none of the company’s business what he did or didn’t post, he was on his own time at home. I think companies have gotten way out of hand and are far too involved in their employees personal time. If it were me, I’d be getting a lawyer.

  37. I think they reacted poorly. A person has a right to free speech and the ability to voice their opinions. My husband was pretty upset that Dawkins left also….

  38. Mary –

    I am hoping you left out some details in an attempt to be concise in your post – or something…Surely you did NOT term a productive employee because she complained to her friends about the company. I LOVE my company, but don’t agree with every decision we make. While I carry the company message faithfully among the employees, I have vented to those close to me when I was frustrated and will continue to do so.

    We’re all human, for pity’s sake! Even great employees are not 100% happy with their company all the time. People need to be allowed to vent. Now, a member of management slamming the company publicly (like on facebook) or anyone disclosing confidential info needs to be dealt with, but to be termed just for complaining to your friends….cruel, unprofessional and a wrongful term suit waiting to happen!

  39. This is a terrible termination…unless his previous record makes it acceptable.

    Have you ever talked to a Philly fan? They are passionate about their sports (not just football). I’m not a Philly fan, as I was born and raised and still live in Pittsburgh (go stillers), but have friends who are Philly fans and I have been to games in Philly to experience their loyalty first-hand. They love their teams and feel that they are a part of them (if only we could get our employees to show this kind of commitment)!

    This guy was obviously venting as a fan, not a disgruntled employee. The fact that he removed the post and apologized tells me that he has some common sense and was legitimately remorseful.

  40. Oh my gosh, Mary. What would happen if every unhappy employee was let go because of arm chair psychology concluding that deep seated problems exist… Do depressed employees also get terminated? If an employee is doing a good job and you find out they are unhappy why wouldn’t you explore other options that might retain a good worker in a position that better uses their talents, or some other similar approach. As presented, this sounds like an attempt to rationalize an irrational decision.

    In regard to the termination for the post on Facebook, I agree that it would be nice if he hadn’t posted it, but I don’t see how it requires anything more that being advised that his opinion about the organization he works for should not be shared in that way. I’m struggling with how this is grounds for any punitive action unless there is clear policy forbidding publicly sharing of negative opinions about the organization. Again, sounds like an irrational decision – particularly when you consider what other employees are allowed to say directly to the media and still retain their positions. Eagles deserve bad press for this.

  41. The one thing we have to remember here is that Facebook is a public forum and anyone who posts on it should not be surprised if it comes back to bite them. I don’t agree that the Eagles did the right thing but when did venting in public become acceptable. I’m sure most of us have had issues with our employers at one time or another, but we typically do not announce it publicly. We will go home and discuss with family and/or close friends but not with everyone in earshot. Facebook is a very public forum and that should be kept in mind when making any post.

  42. Katherine says:

    Mary Howe I do not agree with you at all.

    Alot of people work at jobs every day that they do not like. What does your personal or true feelings have to do with your job performance? Personally there are alot of other jobs I would like to have.

    I do not personally like every aspect of my job. I personally do not like every task I’m asked to perform. I personally do not like every decision made by the upper management. But as a mature adult my personal feelings do not determine how I perform my job. I don’t have to personally agree with everyone in order to perform my job as requested to the best of my ability. We are all humans and incapable of being absolutely perfect 100% of the time. If it were possible there would be no need for spell check or white out.

    Sounds to me like your response is way to personally motivated and you should understand that management should not make decisions based on their personal feelings. It is unethical.

  43. The guy screwed up. Part of the problem with the country today is nobody seems to think they have to take and responsibility for their actiions. We are all supposed to feel sorry for people because they act stupid. As Forrest Gump says, “Stupid is as Stupid does”.

  44. So it’s okay for “big brother” to monitor what we say on the web now? Really???? What a part time employee says on his facebook page is that damaging to the Eagles organization? Really???? Fired for expressing his opinion then taking it back. We have become WAY too politically correct and overly concerned with what someone says. I, for one, miss the days when if someone was stupid and did something stupid you could call them stupid and didn’t have to worry about leeches, oops lawyers, getting involved or entire corporations getting drug through the mud for someones opinion. OPINION!!!! Geez people, no wonder our jobs are getting outsourced.

  45. Oh John –

    You are in so much trouble you publically called lawyers leeches – you are gonna get it now!

    🙂

  46. We’ve had the same issues at my place of employment with Myspace. Recently two employees were terminated for posting comments on their pages. I’ll have to admit though the comments these two employees were posting were way more harsh than the one he posted. They posted comments about violence against other employees and went as far to post comments about the owner’s wives and harming them.

    I agree with the above comments. People need to be careful about posting things on the web because just as soon as you think you are not being monitored…. you will get called into your supervisor’s office and they will confront you with a print out of your postings. It’s best to keep your comments to yourself and be the more mature person.

  47. Well first of all there is that whole ‘freedom of speech’ thing so I think an employee can pretty much say what they want however stupid the comment may be. Is it smart? Obviously not. Even if he didn’t get fired his employer would certainly view him in a whole new way and chances are pretty good that they would eventually find a reason to let him go. My question to him would have been “Would you want someone working for you if they called you ‘retarded’ in a publc forum?” It’s pretty obvious what anyone’s answer would be to that. It’s like posting how much you hate one of your ‘friends’ on your profile and then being surprised when they call you out on it. But, in the end there are always grey areas. once they had reprimanded him and talked it out I think they probably should have stopped at a warning.

  48. This is why that dumb franchise can’t get it together. This low level employee had to be fired by management because of an opinion on Facebook that only his approved friends can see. Yet the front office staff responsible for player selection did not fire Donavan after recently expressing his dislike/disagreement with the operational decisions of the franchise publicly on all news/TV/radio.

    As a Sr. HR Mgr myself I am aware of recent articles co-signing that Company’s in fact do have a right to terminate staff for negative blogs, myspace/ facebook, or other avenues where an opinion can be broadcast. Still not sure how a persons right to an opinion stands up to that.

  49. Mary –
    If we fired every employee who complained in our company, we may be short handed. I think that most employees complain about there job at one point or another. I know I do. And yes, believe it or not, I have put that on my Facebook, I may not mention exact particulars, but I’ll say I had a crappy day and the people I deal with can be jerks. I also post about the sports teams I root for having bad days and making bad decisions.
    The Eagles went way over the top on this one. I think it’s completely ridiculous. This would explain why I’m a Giants fan I guess.

  50. It was a secret that lawyers are leeches? Oops, I guess they will have to make me go through respect and dignity training. HAHAHAH.

  51. Mary’s place of employment is only a place for drones and not for productive, creative people, for they will have ideas and energy that will be taken elsewhere that appreciates those attibutes. Her employer abuses people. Enough about Mary- that is a loser operation.
    As for the Eagles, the insensitivity of that matter causes me to appreciate the fact that I’m a Redskins fan. Putting that aside, the Eagles have exhibited an attitude toward employees that should make Mary want to go to work for them. Best of Luck.

  52. I wanted to add also in response to Mary’s post, as far as I know it’s a free country & employees are allowed to send out all the resumes they want. Whether it really is because they just want to see what’s out there or the real reason is that they’re unhappy & truly do want to find another job, it’s their right to do so. Plus with the actions you’ve stated your company has taken it’s no wonder you’ve got folks sending out resumes like crazy. Seriously–can you blame them?

  53. As an HR Consultant and Director, I disagree with the firing on several fronts. First, there is precedence. The “talent” (players) are considered employees as well, and yet they get to have their say on national forums and they have not been terminated for this. Secondly, it was too harsh a punishment for the supposed violation. Management should consider the state of the economy before taking such drastic actions. I used to work in an industry where the employees used a well-known web-site to spread their filth and lies about the company and its upper management. We knew who the employees were (90% of the time) even though postings were anonymous, and while we had a catch-all policy against such actions, we found when left alone, these miserable sots continued to perform to a satisfactory level. It is as if the venting and feeling as if the had the power to say what they wanted without retribution was empowering enough to keep them going. The industry was a difficult one, and the executive managers WERE everything they said, to boot! Besides, the bottom line is this- the Eagles WERE wrong in losing Dawkins and were called out on it (but I’m a Giants fan so screw ’em!)

  54. I have actually been fired for a blog I posted on MySpace several years ago. I was upset by the way the department director handled an “issue” she had with me and vented about it, on my own time and my own computer, never mentioning specifics such as company or manager’s name. Imagine my surprise when I was called in to the director’s office a couple of days later and terminated. I had just had my annual review a couple of weeks prior – I ranked at or above expectations in all areas and given a nice raise; had no attendance or “behavioral” issues prior but this post was enough for my employer to fire me.

  55. I was astounded at the comments that Mary H. made as it appears other’s were as well. If Mary H. is an HR professional she definitely needs to take some employee retention training. Offering her employee an opportunity to explain her frustration, and asking where the employee would like to see herself within the company that would alleviate these frustrations would have been an appropriate action. A company that has their bottom line in mind does not fire good workers they coach and provide training to enhance the employees skill set to move with the culture of the company.

    .

  56. I’m suprised no one has called Mary on her comment “No different than if you find out your employee is sending out their resume or going on job interviews and then saying they “just wanted to see what else was out there but never intended to leave”. WRONG.”

    I never understood the philosophy of firing an employee when it’s discovered they are looking for other employment. We have had several employees who have left our organization for the opportunity to develop their skills and career, because the opportunity was not available wthin our organizaton at the time, and returned to work for us years later in higher level positions.

    A win-win for everyone!

  57. John O'Neill says:

    Hmmm. Seems to me as he’s a person with a disability, he should be more sensitve about his intending to use the word “retarded.” 😉

    Otherwise, too harsh for a non-managerial employee.

  58. Wow…I think there would be a better company to work for. If we fire everyone for their OPINION then we would not have anyone to work (including myself) everyone has something they don’t like or disagree with we may say it out loud or put it in writing. I BLAME the HR Team for this overreaction by someone in Sr Management….HR it’s your job to make the right call and someone failed. 🙁

  59. How overly sensitive do you have to be to FIRE someone over something as petty as this? Football fans are passionate. He’s a passionate Eagles fan and said something critical, big deal. Then he even took it down right away. Seems to me someone in management or IT has got way to much time on their hands there to be spying on all their employees to this extent. Makes Eagle’s organization seem like a bunch of overly sensitive cry babies to me. I though they were supposed to be so tough over there in Philly? Man up already.

  60. John O'Neill says:

    Way too harsh. Had he been a middle or upper level manager and has identified himself as such on facebook, he should be severely disciplined because he’s a representative of management. Firing? I think they have to right to do that, but that wouldn’t be how I’d run the Eagles.

  61. Say What? says:

    He was commenting as a fan — not an employee.

    Why is the company checking Facebook sites anyway?? How ridiculous.

    A poster, Liz, above mentioned a “gossip” rule at her work. This isn’t gossip if it is off working hours. I can go out with my friends on a Saturday night and say I hate my job…that is not gossip, it is not against the law and I would like to see someone fire me for it. I’d be up in their faces for a LONG time if they did and then they will see the company dirt advertised for all to see.

    Of course some of the usual posters on here are saying it’s OK. That’s to be expected but hypocritical. These are the same posters that talk about the government trying to have their fingers in everyone’s pie and complaining that they are telling us all what to do as HR professionals and yet these very companies can play “big brother”and spy on their employee’s off-time personal activities…and then fire them for it! You can’t have it both ways people!!

    This guy was obviously posting as a fan and not an employee. My team got beat in the playoffs by a team that should NEVER have beat them and if I want to vent about it on Facebook — employee or not — I should be able to!! If I say that the stupid quarterback lost us a playoff game…so what?? My comments, that will only be seen by a select few people, aren’t going to cost the team any money. Get real people. This was a bogus firing that had more to it than just this. The company was probably looking for a legitimate way to ditch an individual without infringing on the ADA because he is handicapped.

  62. 1) Why is an employer even bothering to look at Facebook or MySpace, etc”?
    Curiousity
    Looking for something to use against someone or
    Hmmmm!
    2) What a waste of valuable time
    3) He removed the comments a couple of days later – he should not have, it is his right to voice his opinions and no harm was done
    4) If I remember correctly you can’t view all comments unless you have been invited so… who really was the one in error – (the invitee or the invited?)
    5) Firing – definitely not; an in person face to face and a strong verbal warning
    6) I see a court case in the making with this

  63. I believe you just hit the nail on the head with the ADA comment. Sad but true.

  64. This is the kind of stuff lawsuits are made of. A chief of his area (which means he was doing something right to be promoted), a fairly long term employee AND he is handicapped.
    The million dollar/year players say much worse than this after every game.
    I smell money and someone not having to work ever again.

  65. Crisi in NJ says:

    ok. Although the man was an employee he still has First Amendment rights. We cannot supress an opinion that does not slander the employer. He spoke about an issue already in the tabloids and newspapers, and expressed a feeling about it. He did not say the his employer was a bad employer or that they acted on some “inside” information and in an illegal manner. He mere commented on his personal opinion about a trade of a player to another team! They need to take themselves less serious, apologize, and give him back him position, or the ex-employee should pursue a Wrongful Termination suit.

  66. I think Mary and the Eagle’s way of thinking is a bit archaic and like others have said, is the reason why the government thinks they need to step in and protect the employees, from employers like her. I think most of us are in agreement that to try and control everyone’s opinions would go against what this country stands for and what we fight on a daily basis for. Mary, you might have a better chance of keeping your good employees if you could just learn how to coach them instead of firing them. No one is perfect (no matter what they tell you).

  67. There are two sides to every equation. The first is that he chose to excercise his right to free speech in a forum of his choosing on the topic of his choosing. On the other hand he slandered another entity and that entity has the ability and right to defend their reputation. Work should be about what you can do in a professional setting to the benefit of a company. Thus, any action taken by a company should be based on that professional ability.

    I think the company over-reacted. If there were other performance concerns they could have been bundled in a disciplinary or corrective action, however the article doesn’t indicate if any such conditions existed. I would think that by announcing the man’s medical condition that they would probably know if any such actions existed. By that reasoning I would conclude that this company should have started with progressive disciplinary measures, review their internal policies on public image presentation, and then release a new policy accordingly–perhaps by indicating that any identifying public comments made regarding the company (having a positive or negative image affect) would be followed up with corrective action measures. That’s why they have a PR department after all.

    Mary–I strongly recommend that your company review it’s practice of performing corrective action on people’s private lives. Review your companies policies on communication and knock off the dictation of your employee’s private lives. Instead counsel employees who leak confidential information. That is the point where you make your case. If your company keeps firing performing employees who are just venting you could end up with a number of wrongful termination suits.

  68. I am guessing you cannot root for any other team either. What happens when somebody drives a vehicle to work the isn’t “The Official Car (or truck) of the Eagles?” This is how it starts. I attend Flyers’ games and they have special parking right next to the arena for any Lexus!

  69. Has anyone ever heard of at will employment? The employment relationship can be ended by either party at any time, with or without reason, with or without cause, and with or without notice. Unless you live in a right to work state like the great bankrupt state of CA (that is what right to work will do for you) – bunch of losers.

  70. Those who complain about the government will be the very ones running to find shelter or a defense under some government regulation or court ruling. Bottom line is the employee was fired by an employer who must comply with government fair labor practices laws and regs. I hope the fired employee goes after them for what it is – disability discrimination and violation of constitutional rights of free speech.

  71. Firing Leone was a poor choice. I agree with several remarks that have been posted. If the company has a disciplinary plan in place, they should have started the “Discipline Procress.” Perhaps a verbal warning or a day or two off without pay. Firing him was an extreme measure. It could have been handled differently.

  72. LK Suppine says:

    Hey Mary,

    Send that employee over our way. Would an employee be fired if they disclosed to someone (firend, family, co-worker) they hated something about thier job. Unless theire was somthing else posted, what harm did this do to your business. It would have been different if she maligned the business with statements such as they hate women and that’s why I don’t get promoted.

    BTW – who does have the time to look at all of these websites? Does your HR department search these out or does the company have opportunistic co-workers that point these things out?

  73. Say What? says:

    Megan –

    I suggest you look up the definition of “slander”. Here’s a quick look for you: A malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report.

    Calling a team “retarded” is NOT slander. It was not intended to be malicious (and it’s only able to be viewed by this person’s friends) and who is to say it is false? Poll 1000 people and see how many may agree with it. False, in this case, is merely an opinion. Slander, in this case, would last two seconds in court so I would hope the Eagles would have a better defense for their actions than slander. An example of slander would be to falsely state: The Eagles fire all of their black, female, over-40 employees. This would either be true or false. If false it would be defamatory and therefore slander. To say, “The Eagles wrongly fire people.” is not slander. It’s my opinion.

    I just think as HR professionals and/or attorneys if we are going to throw legal terms around we should know what they mean and how to use them.

  74. On the surface it does appear as if the team over reacted to his post. But, was there something in his employment contract that prohibits employees from making public statements in regards to the team. If there is, than they would be justified in the termination. If not, then he should be afforded his right to free speech.
    This is not your ordinary type job. Employees of organizations such as this often times are required to conduct themselves in a manner that does not reflect badly on the organization on or off the job. But there are limits as to how much control an employer can exert over employees on their off time.
    I would like to know if he filed a suit for wrongful termination.

  75. Mary,

    Maybe your company could do an employee opinion survey to reveal all the employees with low morale but great performance (as the one you described who was fired). What an easy way to fire them all. No need to poke into their web postings to sniff out the unhappy ones. Then, your company could hire employees with high morale and poor performance. I’d be happy, too, to get paid to not performance as long as I appeared happy at all times. How about taking the employee from your company that was fired and giving her more challenging work since she was a good employee? Sounds like a cheaper and more positive solution….developing the talent pool you have. If not, your employee handbook could read, “Hard working people will be fired if they express they aren’t challenged enough in their present jobs.”

  76. This could have been a matter of policy. But here are what I understand the legal test you have to meet. First, not all freedom of speech is protected speech. Protected speech involves public policy that is things that will have a common affect on everyone. Personal gripes are not protected speech.

    Secondly has the post created a disruption in the workplace? How severe? Does the post violate trust?

    Third, has a policy been articulated that gives clear warning that such social web sites may be reviewed if any of the instances of disruption or violation of trust are discovered? Does the policy give examples of discipline?

    Based on these things an employer can take disciplinary action against an employee for post on social web sites.

  77. PUBLIC o’comon its not like he made a TV appearance….We have a strict internet policy that prevents our employees going on such websites at work so who found the comment and was that person on the clock of the WONDERFUL eagles????

  78. I agree with some other posts… why were the Eagles even checking Facebook?! And what HAS happened to freedom of speech?! So what, he has an opnion, he has the freedom to express that. Shame on them for taking the action they did.

    And Mary H. are you seriously going to say you never have a day at work where you need to go somewhere and vent? If you fire someone for something like that you are going to find yourself in a pretty lonely place. And if you are in HR, you may want to reconsider your lot in life. If I was ever so unfortunate to work in your company, I’d be looking elsewhere as well!

  79. SayWhat–“I suggest you look up the definition of “slander”. Here’s a quick look for you: A malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report.

    Calling a team “retarded” is NOT slander.”

    “Dam Eagles R Retarted!!”–I would say that is a false, somewhat malicious statement. I know several people who would take serious exception to that statement and say that the connotation of that statement actually adversly affects them and their self image. Additionally, the statement certainly wouldn’t include all members of the team (management to players) and he didn’t specify who was included or excluded in his claim that “Eagles R Retarted”. He made a blanket and potentially damaging statement if someone took him seriously and was offended.

    Now that we’ve discussed my word usage–do you have anything quantitative to say about my post?

    Mary–an employee who may be wrongfully terminated will not always file suit. The aritcle above indicates that he would be willing to return to his post if it was offered. If a company has show to release it’s employees for what they say what could the company do if they made an offer, the former employee accepted, and then they received the subpoena for records because the employee had filed a wrongful termination suit? I’m not a legal professional, but I’m willing to bet that based on the history the company administrative departments would be a wee bit upset thus making retaliation a high possibility. Additionally they would be under intense media scruitiny and more negative press. Someone who wants their job may not want all that baggage–especially when they removed the source of contention between them and their employer before they thought anyone had seen it.

    Since we don’t know what his employment contract indicated, if there was an employment contract, we cannot answer that question. We can only speculate.

  80. HR Manager says:

    It’s apparent that the majority of you are not HR professionals. You don’t understand the laws and guidelines affiliated and administered by the State and Fedral government. You can’t even comprehend the legal issues surrounding this situation, never mind the phrase “timing is everything.”

    It appears that the majority of you are the average worker who don’t understand loyalty and hard work. You were never taught ethics, respect and lack morals. You simply come to work for a paycheck and leave home for the day blaming everyone else for your mistakes and misfortune.

    Some of you don’t even understand the difference between “constructive criticsm” and “bad mouthing.” To post your opinion as a fan is perfectly okay. As an athlete, it’s okay to bad mouth your opponent. It’s sports, for goodness sakes! This invidual was not an athlete, nor a fan, but an employee representative…..regardless what his title and his employee status. He bad mouthed and insulted his employer.

    Really…., had he been an employee, working for your company, and publically isulted you, you would have done the same. And to come back and tell me not so…., is a lie.

    Firing him, when they did, was the right thing to do.

    The person who I really feel bad for is your employer, for having individuals such as yourselves who lack the knowledge to differientiate between right and wrong.

    And most importantly, if you happen to work in HR, you won’t last with that attitude.

  81. Should not have been fired.

  82. HR in CO says:

    Wait a minute….The NFL doesn’t fire people that:
    A) Train and kill dogs for money
    B) Break firearm laws and shoot themselves in the leg
    C) Are arrested for DUI’s, drug charges and fights

    Maybe the Eagles are just trying to implement a new “tough love” policy. 🙂 What a joke!

    I’m in CO and I’m going to buy a Dawkins jersey and put Dan Leone’s name on it!

  83. Say What? says:

    Megan –

    No, I would say that is one man’s opinion at the moment. Calling a football team retarded will HARDLY damage their reputation and would not be considered harmful or defamatory. I am an attorney and I can say, without a doubt, that nobody in this country would win a slander or defamation of character suit based on one person stating that a person or a company is retarded. This would be highly regarded as a joke and a complete waste of time. Wow, though! If this was defamation or slander, imagine how much busier our courts would be. I could charge triple.

    People are taking this WAY too in-depth. It’s pretty clear that they just wanted to get rid of this gentleman and found a nice, neat, “legitimate” way to do it. Hopefully he has smart people whispering in his ear telling him that this is not ok.

  84. This is not a freedom of speech issue folks. It is rather or not his freedom of speech enjoys protected speech status. It does not as my last post explained. Here is what my attorney said; if the employee decided to use his mouth instead of his mouse he may have a chance to at least deny his involvement.

    But one thing is for certain all speech is not free. All speech is not protected. If it is worth losing respect, developing distrust between the employee and the company, risking losing employment then I say go ahead. But at the end of the day what ever happens could have been avoided with just a little bit of common sense.

  85. Patricia says:

    In firing him for giving his opinion that was a bit hasty. We all have to remember that just like gossip at the water cooler, coffee shop or bathroom there is no privacy anymore. Any comments about something or someone associated where you work can and surely did backfire. If you don’t want the world to know how you feel do it anonymously and keep them guessing who is making the comment.
    I find venting on my local newspapers comments sites the best way of making my point known. Besides most friends on Facebook are here for friends, family, fun and updates on life. Make your argument on your local sports network radio show or an online chat room and chances are it will just blend in with the rest of the background but it will make you feel better having made your feelings known.
    Give an employer any excuse to axe you in today’s economy they will take it.

  86. Steve, SPHR (Lapsed) says:

    Freedom of speech? Please….go back and refresh your understanding of the Constitution. Our speech may not be restricted by the government, but private employers are free to do so, provided they are not restricting certain kinds of speech (complaints to government agencies, for instance).

    As to the actual question of whether this was the right thing to do, we have heard only one side of the story. And making a decision without all the facts is a very bad thing for an HR person to do.

    I agree with Mary when she says…uh…to be honest, I really don’t agree with Mary. But hey, let’s take it down a notch. Mary represents one perspective on a continuum of valid responses. I value employees who care enough to complain in a respectful way. When their complaint reaches me only when they’re heading out the door, we’re doomed.

    As for the question at hand, what is the difference between what Dan did and what many fans do at the stadium when they boo? If Dan posted it, then took it down, how did the criticism find its way to the Eagles’ back office? There’s more to this story…

  87. Say What? says:

    Paul W – Agreed. Unfortunately there are some pretty stiff rules in place for some companies. For example, where I live, if you work for one of the local Pepsi distributors, it is actually part of a signed contract that you can not ever be SEEN drinking a Coke or 7-Up product. It doesn’t matter if you are in uniform, on the clock, off the clock, etc. I actually represented a distributor when they were sued by a former employee that they fired because he went to McD’s for lunch, had a meal deal and it came with a Coke product. He was seen by a co-worker eating his meal in the restaurant, the co-worker snapped a picture on his cell phone, showed it to their boss and the guy was fired.

    Did this stand up in court? Absolutely. The former employee had worked for the distributor for seven years, was well aware of the rule (and signed contract) AND he had been seen at a fireworks display less than a year earlier drinking a can of Dr. Pepper (7-Up product) and was written up for it. It sounds pathetic but it’s totally true. The distributor won and the former employee walked away with nothing but a job search ahead of him.

  88. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. If you don’t like working for me, find another job. My HR folks have an abundance of applications.

  89. HR Manager –

    Way to go with the personal attacks! Many of the people on here disagreeing with the termination, “were never taught ethics, respect, and lack morals”?

    How did anything anyone wrote on here lead you to that conclusion? I agree many have a hazy understanding of the law, at best, but come on! This is supposed to be a forum for discussion and debate of employment issues.

    Boy, it seems that every time we get into a hot topic on here, it isn’t long before someone gets hateful. This is almost as bad as the “merry christmas” discussion a few months ago.

    I don’t know you from Adam, and I understand getting caught up in the heat of debate, but as one HR professional to another, I hope you handle differences of opinion with employees a little more delicately.

  90. Actually HR Manager –

    We would get at the heart of the matter and fix a situation that likely is felt by more than the one who let out the frustration – rather than throwing them out of the door and losing the opportunity to make our organization a better place.

    You Mr. HR Manager – seem to have forgotten that respect is a two way street and very few employees feel any respect from organizations today which is why few employees respect their organizations.

    All employees should be treated the same and the Eagles organization does not do that. You see it all the time when the athletes “bad mouth” org decisions and they are not terminated.

    Mr. HR Manager – you also have an issue with a huge ego – that you are above “the average worker”
    you have demonstrated a lack of repect and morals and think that you deserve your paycheck becuase of how great you are.

    You missed several points in the story and in our discussions – the fired worker had a good record as did the example that one of the posters had – a good record with good ratings – they were not blaming their mistakes on others – you whom are perfect.

    Megan – I feel bad for you that you are caught up in the complete world of PC – every thing that is said, every image and every sound that exists has the potential to offend at least a couple of people. Get over it!

    I have had plenty of things hurled at me that made others think I should be insulted – my line of thought is “I could care less what they think, say or do” They mean jack sh1t to me”. Quit whinning it is annoying.

  91. Say What? –

    The coke/pepsi thing is a little crazy, but he did agree to it by signing the contract. Makes sense to me that it held up. I think there’s some gray area with this Eagles thing. No gray area to the pepsi distributor agreement.

  92. Say What? says:

    Ed – One word for your statement:

    Amen.

  93. What happened to FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION? If we can go on national TV and speak our minds about the president, the war and world leaders, as long as it’s not a matter of national security or contractual obligations people should able to speak their minds. Our country was founded on these individual freedoms.

    Food for thought: Communist countries do not allow people to speak their minds!

  94. This is fabulously entertaining!

  95. That hadn that feeds exists because of the hard work of employees – you don’t use the hand that feeds to slap around those that support and make the hand successful!

  96. Thank you Ed!

  97. I doubt this guy had any type of contract with the eagles. “Say What” descibes a very different set of circumstances. Even at GM all they did if you had a foriegn car was make you park at the far end of the parking lot. It is true that the eagles, or any other employer, can hire/fire “at will” in most states. This does not mean they can avoid wrongful termination lawsuits or a conviction in the court of public opinion. There is also the issue of consistancy. Did they fire any of the players over the years for “bad mouthing” the team. (Trade eventually yes, fire??? not exactly). This leaves them on very shakey legal ground. If these bozo’s worked for me they would be out the door faster than last weeks trash. Their replacements first task would be the very public rehire of this guy with a raise to smooth the ruffled feathers. This is a PR nightmare for a business that has already shown a lack of class.
    In a more general outlook businesses that are too fast on the draw with terminations generally end up short handed and have an increasingly difficult time finding employees. All HR interactions with employees have liability issues these days. The lawyers, EEOC, NLRB etc are only a phone call away. Legal or not this action shows very poor judgement in an HR department. Can any business afford this type of bad PR in these economic times?

  98. HR in CO –

    Dan’s name on a Dawkins jersey – brilliant!

  99. Wow, HR Manager. Way to GO, you, with that uppity attitude & them there big words. We are all sufficiently impressed. Um…NOT.

    Seriously, it’s rather presumptuous of you to state that everyone on this thread simply goes to work for a paycheck & that you feel sorry for our employers because we don’t know right from wrong etc. It’s always such a GREAT idea for HR Managers to generalize & accuse people without having evidence to support such accusations.

    So I can tell just from your couple of paragraphs up there that you are WAY better at your job and a thousand times more professional than I am. *snicker*

  100. Say What? says:

    I think I would like “Ed” to come work in my firm…

    As an attorney I would like to say that I consider the term “At-Will” to be the biggest joke out there. Sure, we can quit for any reason we want…and who really cares, right? Sure, we can be fired for any reason our employers want…but wait…if they can fire us for any reason they want, why can we sue for wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, etc., etc., etc…

    At-Will? There is no such thing as “At-Will” for the employer.

  101. R U Kidding? says:

    HR Manager – RELAX! By chance, are you associated with the Eagles? You seem a bit defensive!

  102. Em – thanks for teh smile – that is perfect for a Friday afternoon.

  103. R U Kidding? says:

    Give it to ’em, Ed!!

  104. Freedom of Speech only protects against imprisonment of citizens if they disagree with a government law, regulation, etc and allows individuals to orderly convene (i.e. picket) to express these ideas. Freedom of Speech does not say that you do not have consequences to comments or statements made in regards to your employer.

    Whether or not the individual should not have been terminated over this issue or not is a different subject. I feel that we don’t necessarily have all the information on hand and only have one side of the story. Superficially, it does seem like an extreme reaction, however, we may not have all of the information. Additionally, this seems to be a high-profile issue and may have warranted a stronger reaction do to the publicity.

    All I can say is that people should be very careful on what they post as that becomes public knowledge and you can’t take it back once it is out there regardless of “off duty” or not.

  105. HR Manager you need to mingle with some people on your front line for a while and get back to the real world…. 🙂

  106. How could you ask him to debase his self so . . .

  107. Mr. HR. Manager
    I guess you don’t know that atheletes are employees also. They make comments like this all the time on national TV and they give them bigger contracts. This guy made a comment on his private account on facebook and is terminated? Joke
    HR in CO
    Way to go. Great comments. You go. I actually feel that most of those playing professional sports are just over paid crybabies and criminals that haven’t been caught yet (sorta like our government). Why don’t they pay the true heroes in our country: the military, fireman, policemen and emergency workers who put the very lives on the line every day to keep our country safe and free.

  108. Ed–you’re quite welcome. 🙂

    Have a great weekend everyone!

  109. Ed-I work in California. I’d like to get out of the world of PC but unfortunately there are more people willing to sue over the smallest of things here that PC is a necessary way of life in the professional world. For reference please see the “Beverly Hills Cop” movies–it’s an occasional sad reality of life here.

    Additionally I indicated that several people I know would be offended, not that I would be. From a respect stand point, yes, Mr. Leone’s comment does not communicate respect–though angry comments rarely do.

    I agree with Steve, SPHR (lapse)–that there is more to this story. My comments mainly address personal experience and the information offered in this article. Additionally, growing qualified employees and sculpting them into the “perfect” professional for your orginization is tremendously advantageous. Which creates more cost for an organization–regular turn over or coaching current employees? In this case, with the offered information I would say coaching current employees. With more information that opinion may change to the one shared by Mary and some others.

  110. Say What? says:

    Megan – I might consider quitting while I am ahead. That’s just me though.

    HR Manager – You are like this on every thread and in every comment I have ever seen you make so I am certainly not surprised. I hope it is all an act. If not, it’s people like yourself that keep me busy.

    Ed – I like your style.

    To All – Have a great weekend.

  111. HR Professional says:

    HR Manager – I am shocked at your posting and your attitude does not represent those of us who strive to represent HR in a professional manner.

  112. I hate to say it, but Congress should pass a law to protect employees who vent outside the workplace. We have gone crazy with restrictions on free speech in this country. If I come to work and do my job I should not have to swear a loyalty oath or put on a happy face just to make the boss feel good. This is being treated as hate speech, which, by the way, also must be tolerated in a free society. And Mary H, you are a cold-hearted rhymes-with-rich.

  113. C’mon, this is B’Dawk we’re talking about here… I’d trash them too

  114. Ed

    Your right what was I thinking :-O

    HAPPY FRIDAY TO ALL…..Even to you Mr HR Manager oh by the way would you work there if they didnt pay you…i think not….darn that means you work for the same reason we all do $$$$$$ but HR is a passion not a job!!!! Because we all know for what we put up with they couln’t afford us.

  115. To R U Kidding?: Mr. HR Manager does sound DEFENSIVE, therefore, if you knew the Eagles and their issues, he couldn’t POSSIBLY be employed by them…

    ED- You’re right on point. I’ll go one step further. I don’t believe HE’S (or she) is in HR. Why on earth would non-HR professional receive this newsletter and take the time to respond to such an issue? First of all, we happen to care about our profession, and our perception. Issues similar to this happen everyday in our workplaces, and we always seek out the best way to handle them. Clearly, judging by the response on this medium as well as the public in general, the Eagles “dropped the ball” on this (T.O., where were YOU?). Mr. HR Manager sounds more like an embattled and bitter CEO who has an office filled with people who express this same sentiment as this fired employee. To correct the perception of Facebook as well: while it is a public site, to view one’s postings you must be an invited “friend” to this person, therefore it is clear that someone he perceives as a friend actually snitched him off to the brass. That sucks…

  116. Wow HR manager you are scary. I hope that the post is not a true reflection of who you are as a person. I feel sorry for anyone who has to work with you.

  117. Katherine says:

    HR Manager. I worked in education for over 15 years. Specifically management. Your comments do not give me the impression you paid attention in class. I would strongly advise a couple of CEU’s specifically geered towards Employee Retention and Ethics.

  118. All About Ethics says:

    MEGAN,

    ‘Say What’ is the attorney and before you bite back so harshly on criticism concerning your posts, you might want to consider that a Facebook comment is a “written” form of communication; not verbal. I think the word you were searching for, albeit still not appropriate in this situation, is LIBEL, not slander. If you are going to take the time to post your opinions and you don’t make sure they are correct, folks are going to call you out on it. Snapping back in angry defense with words that are still incorrect probably isn’t the way to validate your words, ideas or suggestions.

    Also, for those that obviously just enjoy causing a stir, like ‘HR Manager’, I don’t buy it. Hopefully you are just getting a smile from getting folks riled up and don’t truly believe your ridiculous words. I would honestly hope that those in the HR community wouldn’t have those opinions. If so, the reason the government has chosen to step in and mandate everything to protect the employees is probably because of people like yourself. I am choosing to believe you are just attempting to get a rise out of everyone and are enjoying the opportunity to do so.

  119. I wouldn’t have fired him. It’s not like he posted confidential information or did something illegal. He vented; expressed his opinion during a time when he was frustrated. He removed the post quickly on his own and he apologized when the employer called. Unless he had some other disciplinary action or performance warning on file that caused them to react the way they did (which doesn’t seem to be the case here), it seems like they were pretty harsh and blew the incident out of proportion.

    While I firmly believe everyone has a right to their own opinion and that venting is important to mental health, I DO believe venting against a specific individual or corporation / business in public is more often inappropriate than appropriate. But we should be able to differentiate between frustration and an outright malicious attack. We have to recognize that we are all human beings and that we all make mistakes. If we never gave anyone a second chance, none of us would be employed. Just my opinion…

  120. When are employees going to learn to make their facebook pages private? They take risks when their pages are public or they have their boss or a coworker as a “facebook friend” and then proceed to make these types of comments. As an HR professional I understand that people get frustrated at work. Venting is a natural and sometimes necessary outlet. But be conscious and careful of who is on the receiving end. If it is close friends or family that’s one thing. But start venting in public forums or to facebook friends who may include coworkers or supervisors and you open yourself up for this type of result. I think this was too harsh a punishment, but it also could have been avoided if the employee had been more careful either in his comments or his audience.

  121. Wow – haven’t been this “entertained” in some time. Seriously, I am fascinated by the many responses. It takes all kinds to make up this world of ours. My personal take – a very harsh way of dealing with this employee. I know for a fact that posts about my own company show up on Facebook and Myspace – not always favorably. Am I running to Management to let thme know? Think not. It is after all opinion and probably expressed after a hard day. The work done by my company is quite stressful and the folks here work crazy hours and are also on-call after hours. If they need to vent – I say have at it. Oh and by the way I have my own Facebook page which it how I know about those posts – I’m not out there looking at all.

  122. MS – Exactly! What is it that they say about mixing business with pleasure? If I were an employee I sure as heck wouldn’t make my bosses (or my co-workers!) “friends” on Facebook! That is a personal site with personal information and personal pictures. Not to have your site “private” is bad enough but then if it is you don’t allow your bosses, etc. to view all the personal things about yourself! Work life is work life. Private life is private life. Best to keep the two mutually exclusive of one another. I wouldn’t expect my secretary to invite me to be a Facebook “friend” and quite honestly, I would not want her to!

  123. I’m not sure I’ve ever known an employee to be happy 100% of the time with all the decisions an employer makes. It appears, this employee gave his personal opinion and was venting, realized it was an “at the moment” comment, and then removed it. Termination… I believe a bit harsh. I agree… freedom of personal time and speech… and firing over the phone? How unprofessional is that? Personally, I feel the whole situation was handled unprofessionally, and now there is a person out of a job, when he could have just had a verbal warning!

  124. When you are being paid to do a job for a company, part of what a company expects is for its employees NOT to go around deliberately making the company look bad. Freedom of speech-it is one thing to vent your frustrations to your friends and family verbally-but to publish your opinions in such a fashion that is known to be read by lots of people and your opinions serve no other purpose than to make the employee feel better demonstrates that the employee does not care about his job or the company he works for. Why should any employer have to employee this kind of person?

  125. Mary R –

    Actually a voiced frustration over one decsion by the organization that has no relavence or bearing on his job does NOT demonsrtate how an employee feels about his job.

    His good evaluations and the fact that he has been working for many years at that job speaks to his feeelings about his job.

    You must be a “Yes Mam” – a corporate brown noser – if you feel that you have to support every decision made by your employer.

    Have you ever heard of “group think”?

    BTW – Most of the fans of the Eagles agreed with this man’s comments. The Eagles made themselves look bad in the eyes of the fans – the ones that buy the merchandise and pay for tickets!

  126. To Mary R.- Since when is that “expectation” part of the hiring process? Unless it is part of the Employee Handbook or a policy separated an signed by the employee, I know of no expectation. Would it be NICE if none of the employees spoke ill of their employer? Sure- who wants employees who continually bite the hands that feed them- but it is not normally a requirement to keep employed. I am not familiar necessarily with the specific employment laws of PA, and whether or not it is an “at will” location, but I doubt there is “cause” for this termination. Even if it determined that there IS cause, the bad publicity generated from such a boneheaded move far outweighs the effectiveness of the termination. I have learned in my career that HR is mostly “working in the grey”, and not everything is so black and white. In this case, he apologized, removed the posting soon after it was posted, and warranted merely a written reprimand at most.

  127. This is one of the hottest HR topics in the industry today… Businesses and schools both use personal sites/blogs to check up on the character of applicants to make the best choices. Job seekers & students are educated to make sure they don’t have sexy photos of themselves or at drinking parties, don’t call yourself ‘sexykitten69@aol.com’, don’t make racial (or other discriminatory) comments on your blog or page, and don’t make negative comments about the company you work for or your boss. All of these are really bad ideas! Cyberspace is not private and there should not be any expectation of privacy.

    From a purely HR standpoint… Termination was over the top; especially since his comment wasn’t made as “the west gate chief for the Philadelphia Eagles” but as a dissatisfied fan AND terminations should always be done face-to-face when possible.

  128. LF

    Best response so far. Once you put something on the net you really shouldn’t expect it to be private. That’s why none of my facebook friends are co-workers. Even so, I don’t post about work. My venting is done verbally, not in writing on the world wide web.

    Still, I wouldn’t have termed….

  129. It is now official, this is a contraversial topic. Fox news picked up the story.

  130. My opinion says:

    Social networking sites should not be used by employers/HR to check on employees or potential employees. These sites are very social in nature and are a means for people to connect with one another on many different levels. Alot of people use them to convey opinions on topics the believe strongly in. What if there opinions differ from a potential employer. What if they use their site to tell the online world about their religion or even their disbelief in organized religion. What happens when an employer decides not to hire a talented hard working candidate because they are a different religion or some other personal reason that they found through someones myspace or facebook.
    I say let people have some personal freedom as long as it does not violate the law. People should be able to express their opinions even if their employer doesn’t like it. So unless their are publishing company secrets. Let them have their say.
    Just MY opinion

  131. I’m almost sorry I was out on Friday — these comments have been so entertaining.

    Forget “personal freedom of expressing your opinion”. If you want to document in writing, in a public forum, your support for anti-semitism or white supremacy, you should expect consequences. As stated earlier — cyberspace is not private. The key here is that there is typically an extensive audit trail to things you post on the web — if you don’t want it repeated or retrieved, don’t type it. (And that includes comments in this post…)

    There are many documented cases where employees have been disciplined and even fired because of personal comments and/or photos posted on the web. I’m sure there will be many court cases in 2009 that will set some precedence in determining what is and isn’t “protected speech”. It will be interesting!

  132. I think I’m going to switch careers. From all I’ve read on here. Most people in HR carry around a GREAT amount of frustration just itching to lash out at the first sucker that provides the oportunity.

    You poor, poor broken spirits! Clocking in 9 – 5 day in day out, year after year with your vile, bitter hatred towards humanity as the only power left to strike back! I could go, on and on.

    People, we all have a “JOB” to do and we should do it to the best of our ability, faily and justly. Please, relax, take a deep breath and remember when any of us drop dead of a heart attack, there will be another “HR MANAGER” there to take our place.

    Talk about L O O S E R S ? ? ? ? ? who’s that!

  133. Clearly, ELLIE, you’re the “loser” since spelling isn’t one of your very few strengths. As a 20 year HR professional, I feel I can speak for most of the others and say that I haven’t seen a 9-5 day since Carter was President. My frustration is with two things, generally- companies and corporations who abuse their power and disregard the sound advice of HR professional “just to make a point” (such as the Eagles organization in this original incident), and two- idiots like you who presume to know anything about us, our profession or our “spirits”. The only “vile, bitter hatred” I have is towards you right now. I’m convinced our industry would not employ the likes of you.

  134. “Social Networking” is here to stay and I am quite sure many other Eagle employees (and fans) felt the same about Dawkins’ departure. Employees do not always agree with the employer’s decision and the employee’s are entitled to their opinions. The key in social networking is, as an employer, to craft your communications plan, and prepare for the negative comments. The dissatisfaction of employee’s will always be there in many cases and toignor or try to inhibit the opinions is poor manangment. Because the Eagles mishandled the situation, the organization now has a much larger PR problem on their hands.

    As an HR Director, I would not have fired the employee. I would have educated him to disagree, but in a more professional manner and for him to understand the consequences when playing in cyberspace Plus, I would educate mgmt. about proper communication plans when dealing with potential controversial issues.

  135. Ellie –

    Most of us (not all) support the fired individual – what the heck are you reading?

  136. Ellie –

    Most of us (not all) support the fired individual – what the heck are you reading?

    Obviously HR is the wrong field for you if you want to kiss and hug every employee and plant flowers all around the world.

    This field requires that you protect the company while doing your best to assist, train and develop employees to be their absolute best. NOT to just paint pretty pictures and smile endlessly like one ignorant of the consequences of their actions or lack thereof.

  137. Say What says:

    I am kind of astounded that a professional person would come on a public forum — as a professional — and call people losers (and mispell the word at that). This coming from the very person who said, and I quote, “Please, relax, take a deep breath…” This person also says, “People, we all have a “JOB” to do and we should do it to the best of our ability, faily and justly.” Mind you, she mispells “fairly” as well. It concerns me a bit to know that there are people out there like Ellie, HR Manager and Mary doing their jobs to the best of their ability; in a fair and just manner. If they treat their employees (or spouses, or kids, or employers, or friends, etc.) in the manner in which they spout off on this website, I feel truly sorry for them and I think my law firm will continue to get busier and busier.