Another Good Example of Why Privacy and Social Media Can’t Coexist

By Eric B. Meyer

One of my favorite bloggers, Jon Hyman, was just saying recently that social media and privacy cannot coexist.

Even on their own time — out of the office — what employees say and do online can have an impact on the workplace. Teachers are prime examples.

The Washington Post reports that a New Jersey school district is looking into claims that a high school teacher criticized a school display recognizing Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender History Month on her Facebook page and wrote that homosexuality is “perverted” and “breeds like cancer.”

Wrestling over Facebook comments

According to NBC Philadelphia, gay rights activists planned to protest at a school board meeting last night to urge the school district to discipline the teacher. The school is still investigating the incident. Earlier this year a Florida high school teacher was suspended and later reinstated following Facebook comments he made against gay marriage.

Meanwhile, Fox10 in Pensacola reports that, in Alabama, a special-education teacher posted (that’s his picture here), in which he dons a protective helmet that one of his students wears in physical-education class. On his Facebook page, which is public, the teacher further commented about children going to the bathroom on themselves and eating crayons and complains about how frustrated he is. The school district has since placed the teacher on administrative leave.

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As you will no doubt recall from reading this blog, a Pennsylvania school teacher also was suspended and later reinstated after making caustic remarks about her students on a personal blog.

Employees will use social media in ways that will occasionally create discord with their employer. But what is the appropriate response? Fire? Suspend? Warning? Nothing?

Good question. Employers — especially schools because these incidents seem to grab the headlines — no doubt have some tough decisions to make when it comes to disciplining teachers based on their use of social media off-hours.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (, which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.


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