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Emergency Dispatcher Fired For Facebook Drug Joke

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the thin-pretense dept.

Privacy 631

kaptink writes "Dana Kuchler, a 21-year veteran of the West Allis Dispatch Department, was fired from her job for making jokes on her Facebook page about taking drugs. She appealed to an arbitrator, claiming the Facebook post was a joke, pointing out she had written 'ha' in it, and noting that urine and hair samples tested negative for drugs. The arbitrator said she should be entitled to go back to work after a 30-day suspension, but the City of West Allis complained that was not appropriate. Is posting bad jokes on Facebook a justifiable reason to give someone the boot?"

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631 comments

no (5, Insightful)

dmitrygr (736758) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332768)

Probably not, but by the time it's sorted she'll be bankrupt

Re:no (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332830)

Agreed, she should not have been given the boot. She should've instead had the FD's boot on her throat. At least that's what the jack-booted thugs in power today seem to think is the way to go.

Re:no (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332882)

Probably not, but by the time it's sorted she'll be bankrupt

Of course it's justifiable -- we live in the age of corporate fear. There's no longer a need for anything to actually happen -- all that's required is for a corp to assert "fear of [whatever]" (litigation, disparagement of business, loss of competitive advantage) for them to justify any extension of control over their employees.

Just look at the way the bastards try to intrude into your home by telling you you'll be fired if your housemate doesn't stop smoking within 90 days. Why??? -- "fear of increased insurance costs".

Craven sons of bitches.

Re:no (1, Interesting)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332986)

Just look at the way the bastards try to intrude into your home by telling you you'll be fired if your housemate doesn't stop smoking within 90 days.

Please provide citation. I'm quite interested in that one.

Sounds unreasonable (5, Insightful)

Tukz (664339) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332774)

Maybe they had other reasons, but needed an excuse to lay her off?

Re:Sounds unreasonable (1)

arndawg (1468629) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332788)

Yeah I was thinking this. Sounds like they really wanted to get rid of her but couldn't do it "legally".

Re:Sounds unreasonable (1, Funny)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333134)

Being so stupid as to say dumb things on Facebook without realising her words could come back to bite her might be good grounds for not employing her in the first place.

Re:Sounds unreasonable (5, Insightful)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333300)

Being so stupid as to say dumb things on Facebook

It wasn't a dumb thing, it was a joke. It was clearly marked as a joke. The physical The "dumb thing" is that the humourless irony-deprived grey flannel dwarf who reported her did not understand it was a joke.

Stop being an apologist for the implementation of a regime of "thought crime." Please stop.

Re:Sounds unreasonable (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332794)

Dana Kuchler, a 21-year veteran

'nuff said. That's a lotta retirement money the get to keep.

Re:Sounds unreasonable (3, Insightful)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332810)

21 year veteran with mandatory raises is pry a nice chunk of change. My friend's girlfriend worked in dispatch and with OT pulled in enough to get a loan for a 300k house and a 50k car with no cosigner. I don't know what she makes but it is pry ridiculous for the amount of skill involved.

No amount is too much to pay for your LIFE!!1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332836)

These people work harder than anyone you keep you safe from danger! How can you put a price tag on that? Hurr Durr, FDNY, etc.

Re:No amount is too much to pay for your LIFE!!1 (3, Informative)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333088)

Safe from danger? We are talking about emergency services, not your personal nanny. These agencies are a reactive service, not a proactive service. Sure, some violent acts might be discovered in-progress or just prior, but that does not occur very often.

Each person is responsible for their own safety.

Re:No amount is too much to pay for your LIFE!!1 (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333250)

Violence is not the only thing they protect from - a fast arrival may mean the fire in the house next to yours won't spread.

Re:Sounds unreasonable (1, Insightful)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332900)

Is your o, a, b and l keys broken? I'm assuming not since you seemed to use them elsewhere in your post without difficulty. So why the problem spelling 'probably'? In the era of high speed internet access and multimedia rich web content bytes are cheap. Don't feel that you are doing anybody a favor by heavily condensing words, especially when you seem to have no problem using other equally long words.

Re:Sounds unreasonable (0, Troll)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332956)

Nerd rage about spelling often?

Re:Sounds unreasonable (5, Funny)

phatcabbage (986219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332982)

No, nerd rage about spelling only sometimes.

durrr (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333038)

you are a fucking idiot

Re:Sounds unreasonable (5, Funny)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333066)

>Is your o, a, b and l keys broken?

Any reason you typed 'is' and not 'are' there? I assume those keys work on your keyboard, as you use them elsewhere, so why make that basic mistake while nit-picking someone else's comment?

Re:Sounds unreasonable (-1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332932)

but it is pry ridiculous for the amount of skill involved.

Fuck you, asshole. You're exactly the type who screams rape when there's a suggestion of pulling back executive bonuses, but thinks God invented bankruptcy courts to smash signed and sealed union contracts.

Up your ass.

BTW, are you really hoping "pry" will catch on? Dipshit.

Re:Sounds unreasonable (0, Flamebait)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332996)

21 year veteran with mandatory raises is pry a nice chunk of change.

You're probably right. I bet many do pray for a nice chunk of change. It's improbable that they'll get it, but they still pray and pray.

I don't know what she makes but it is pry ridiculous for the amount of skill involved.

Why would you want to pray that it be ridiculous? Really, dude... you're probably a religious man given that you pray so much. No big deal if you are, there's probably a lot of people like you who pray over probably everything.

Re:Sounds unreasonable (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333184)

I doubt it.
I expect instead that HR had to justify the time they spend idly surfing the net and playing with Facebook.

It is of course entirely inappropriate for them to do this but it's an expected outcome when you put things on the net under your real name for any nitpicking bastard to see. These are the sort of people that would try to get you fired for wearing a T-shirt with a joke on it so nobody should be really suprised by this.
Enough of that, everyone else went home an hour ago so time for me to stop idily looking at slashdot - something I can justify by not keeping 9-5 hours.

Re:Sounds unreasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333200)

I've done some work with the police...

They take social interaction VERY seriously, they're really particular about who they're seen with, who they associate with and especially what other cops think of them.

It's like high school cliques but far more intense.

So, it really doesn't surprise me they'd fire someone over a comment like that. Just having a "facebook" page and being "friends" with someone ELSE who makes jokes like that could get you into trouble (at least, social trouble with your peers)

Re:Sounds unreasonable (1)

MoeDumb (1108389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333260)

Why oh why do people use their real names on this Net we call Inter? It just isn't worth the potential aggravation. Oh sure, I'm using mine, but this is /. for crying out loud. Nobody comes here.

To answer the final question... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332778)

I'd say no. It is kind of disappointing that our off hour lives are subject to such scrutiny. The employees sense of humor or lack thereof shouldn't get them canned. They already demonstrated they were not in fact using drugs (though, even if they were, unless it interfered with their ability to perform their duty at work, who cares?). Seems like a simple misunderstanding and they should be allowed to return to work and get on with their life.

Re:To answer the final question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332816)

Also, posting anonymously, since current or potential employers may disagree with my opinion. I wouldn't want to end up like the subject in TFA now would I?

Freedom of speech should be a law ;) (3, Insightful)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332782)

Seriously I understand from a business point the reason. But that doesn't make it right.
Kinda along the lines of no bathroom breaks, mandatory overtime without compensation, and your everyday harassment from bosses.
It always seems like when a company goes too far to try to limit negative publicity all they get is a mountain of bad press.

Re:Freedom of speech should be a law ;) (1, Insightful)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332854)

The 1st Amendment protects peoples freedom of speech from the Federal government, not from the consequences of private entities in society. You should be able to say whatever you want without the government penalizing you (without causing unjust harm), but that doesnt mean everyone should be forced by the government to have to listen to your stupidity, or be impartial towards you.

Businesses should fire people who are too stupid to understand the impact of their actions on their company. If you work in a business... lets say something in the First Responder, or Public Safety industry... perception and image is extremely important. Public confidence goes a long way in making First Responders life easier, and safer. This can be clearly seen in areas where police are viewed as brutal (no one snitches on crime), where first responders never show up (Flavor Flav's, "9/11 is a joke in your town").

The constitution applies largely to restricting the Federal Government, not private citizens.

Re:Freedom of speech should be a law ;) (5, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332878)

So I assume she was getting paid for those 16 hours of every weekday (and 48 hours of weekends every week) where she was required to abide by some company "behaviour code"?

Re:Freedom of speech should be a law ;) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332906)

No one is stopping you, but that's freedom of thought, which is different.

Re:Freedom of speech should be a law ;) (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332910)

Businesses should fire people who are too stupid to understand the impact of their actions on their company.

Ah yes, the good, old "you're just a slave after all" argument.

Re:Freedom of speech should be a law ;) (4, Interesting)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332916)

True enough. Just because you're free to say anything you want, doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea to spout off without discretion.

Re:Freedom of speech should be a law ;) (2, Insightful)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332970)

You are right about the constitutional right part, but dead wrong about the whole 'perception and image' bullshit. People take themselves and one week of 'bad pr' way too seriously. A company should have the integrity to stand behind a 21 year veteran. Period.

Re:Freedom of speech should be a law ;) (5, Insightful)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333026)

Basically, yes.

My company pays me from 9 to 5 and that does NOT give them the right to invade my live the rest of the time. In return, I will not meddle with their buissness outside office times. What happens at the office, stays at the office, and what happens outside, happens outside. Thats a matter of basic decency.

Of course there is a good measure of flexibility to this rule, but that works both ways. If my boss doesn't mind leaving me an hour early from time to time, the less I mind the occasional overtime.

Re:Freedom of speech should be a law ;) (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333060)

In this case, the City of West Allis is a "government", not a "business", and its emergency dispatchers are government employees, not private employees in some sort of dispatching industry. The First Amendment has been held to apply to state and local governments since 1925 [wikipedia.org] , and applies to some extent even when the government is acting as employer [umkc.edu] .

Re:Freedom of speech should be a law ;) (2, Interesting)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333212)

Then their job contract should specify public-image requirements for their behavior outside of their on-the-clock hours. Let's see how well that goes over.

My Uncle is an Ex-West Allis cop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332800)

This may be off topic but these cops are corrupt as hell. I'd explain more, but yeah, not gonna go there. I guarantee there is more to this story.

Sounds like the excuse.... (4, Insightful)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332812)

Sounds like the excuse to fire someone whom they could replace with someone a lot cheaper/less benefits due to years of service....

Re:Sounds like the excuse.... (1)

njhunter (613589) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332826)

In this day and age, you need to work your butt off to keep those gold plated benefits!

Re:Sounds like the excuse.... (2, Insightful)

Dryesias (1326115) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332850)

Seems likely. Why else would they be checking (stalking?) her Facebook profile anyway?

Re:Sounds like the excuse.... (1)

dontbgay (682790) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333126)

So they fire an old lady on the cusp of retirement for making an off-colored joke on the FaceBooks? Next thing you know, the sherriff will be sporting a top hat and cape with a handlebar moustache tying damsels in distress to railroad tracks.

Come on guys, that has to be a fat load to actually fire someone that late in their life for something as innocuous as a joke on Facebook. Seriously. It's almost.. Dastardly.

Re:Sounds like the excuse.... (2, Insightful)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333128)

I doubt that's what happened. A far more likely event would be that a co-worker who is also a "friend" saw it, blabbed to Janet in accounting who couldn't help but mention it at the watercooler after which it passed through the janitorial staffmember to the HR guy during a smoke break...and there you go.

Re:Sounds like the excuse.... (5, Informative)

ConfusedVorlon (657247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333140)

she had already been taken through 4 of the mandatory 5 steps to dismissal

"Kuchler was already on thin ice with the city, having gone through four of the five disciplinary steps required by the collective bargaining agreement with the local clerical union: a verbal warning, written warning, one-day-suspension, and three-day-suspension."
http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2010/05/police_dispatcher_fired_for_st.php [sfweekly.com]

so it seems that for whatever reason, her bosses didn't think much of her...

I say we go all the way to the top (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333146)

In firing Kuchler, the West Allis Police Chief wrote that Kuchler's Facebook posting "destroyed the city's trust and confidence in (her) ability and integrity" as a dispatcher and was "an embarrassment to the city."

If being an embarrassment to the city by cracking jokes can get you fired, we should give politicians the death sentence for embarrassing the nation!

w0w typo in summary (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332832)

L2 edit

A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332844)

- This can be considered invasion of privacy, as social networking sites are apart of your private life.
- Think before you post online, whichever site or mailing list. Too many people post without thinking.

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (2, Funny)

Jeian (409916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332852)

"social networking sites"

"private"

Yeah?

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (4, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332898)

Yes, private in the same sense as if you were to decide to go to a bar and have a few drinks with your friends while not working it would still be a "private" event in the sense that her employer would have little grounds for firing you even using the "but anyone could see him/her in the bar and we don't condone binge drinking here! We have to protect our corporate image!" argument. Once you're off the clock it is your private time to do with as you please (unless you're getting paid to be on call).

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332946)

Or you happen to be wearing a uniform. Or, if you're here and follow Australian Rules Football, if you're famous. We don't question the footy clubs suspending players because they went for a binge session, but if - god forbid - it happens to a "regular" person the entire world is up in arms about it. I've seen CTO's fired for cracking in their off hours, Managers for telling it like it is to their superiors when they happen to run into each other at the pub, but as soon as it's the average jo(sephine)...

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333016)

We don't question the footy clubs suspending players because they went for a binge session, but if - god forbid - it happens to a "regular" person the entire world is up in arms about it.

One can reasonably argue that a football player (and a CXO) is paid enough money to abide by their employer's rules even during their non-working hours. With that in mind, I hope you can understand why it makes a difference when the same is suddenly expected from the "average Joe" -- without equal compensation, of course.

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332952)

If you want your "private attendance" of a bar to remain private, don't paste all about it on a public website (if the employers were able to view the data, I'm assuming the privacy settings weren't locked down).

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333074)

What if you don't post about it on a website, but the boss sees you entering the bar while he's driving home? Can he still fire you?

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333130)

I would say no even if they did find out through Facebook. That doesn't change the fact that if you want certain information private, it's not the best idea to publish it.

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333190)

What if you don't post about it on a website, but the boss sees you entering the bar while he's driving home? Can he still fire you?

I don't see why he couldn't?

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333286)

Well, in most civilized countries that would result in the (former) employee and/or the union he/she was a member of suing the employer for wrongful termination since it generally isn't legal to just randomly fire employees for what they do in their own time.

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332976)

Not private as in "secret" or "not public", but "private" as in "none of your bosses buissness"

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332880)

> Think before you post online, whichever site or mailing list. Too many people post without thinking.

When it comes to FB, it should be:

Think before you add "friends".

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332928)

The US constitution does not guarantee a right to privacy.

As opposed to the Alaska constitution section 22 [justia.com] , which does.

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332998)

The US constitution does not guarantee a right to privacy.

Bullshit -- Roe v. Wade is entirely based on SCOTUS recognizing a right to privacy.

BTW, read, research and understand the Ninth Amendment before you mouth off about "The Constitution doesn't recognize any right to ...." You'll come off as less of an unstudied fool.

Re:A Question of Privacy, or Stupidity? (3, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333032)

Think before you post online, whichever site or mailing list. Too many people post without thinking.

Seriously, should I have to do this ? And when I make a joke in public to one of my friends should I first glance over my shoulder to see if there's some HR loon or middle manager stalking me who could use a joke as an excuse to fire me ? That's not the kind of society I want to live in. (It's also in fact NOT the society I live in because luckily I happen to live in a country with decent social protections and unions.) This is the sort of thing we used reproach the USSR for : peoples lives being destroyed because they get reported for saying the "wrong things" without recourse.

Happens (1)

token0 (1374061) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332886)

Oh what a shocking story to make us worry about facebook privacy. Obviously she should have her own encrypted personal site for friends and never share it with colleagues. Wait, she either got a stupid employer or other reasons to get fired.

writing 'ha' in it is not enough (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332890)

She should have written 'roflcopter'.

Re:writing 'ha' in it is not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333024)

idiot, everyone knows it's a lolcopter, a roflcoaster, and a lmaotank.

Cause (2, Insightful)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332902)

You know, we wouldn't even have this problem if we didn't try to prohibit Americans from so many things...

Image degradation (1)

enriquevagu (1026480) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332914)

Making comments IN PUBLIC about taking drugs might be a reason to be fired off. Making jokes IN PUBLIC about the same issue might be a reason to be fired off. Both of them can negatively condition your image.

Facebook, on the other side, is mostly public, so the loss of image might also apply.

Re:Image degradation (1)

Ponyegg (866243) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333162)

Arguably the action of the bosses have brought this to a much wider audience. Far more people are now aware of the company's actions and (looking at the posts here) the majority of people seem to think it was them overstepping their authority. They have therefore brought themselves into disrepute, can we expect the bosses to be sacking themselves anytime soon? Nah, I didn't think so either. I just hope the person was in a union.

Give Facebook the Boot (0, Troll)

davidbrucehughes (451901) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332918)

No, but my take on it is that it's time to give Facebook the boot. I deleted my account over a year ago.

Dangers of public by default (3, Insightful)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332924)

With Facebook's constant and behind-the-back changes to make more and more things public by default, it'll be a question of time until somebody gets fired because they posted something for their friends (not including anybody from work), yet people (incl. employment-related) they had never intended to see the message did see it and used it against the poster.

Personally I hate the fact, that I have to keep screening my privacy settings just in case they fucked around with something again and changed it to "Everybody".

Re:Dangers of public by default (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333112)

Facebook does a deal to provide Demographic information about signed Users, the current privacy setting prevent a Complete Sample (100% users), so lets just change the TOS and move everybody to the new default settings, no breach of contract by Facebook, And complete Dataset for the client, what could go wrong Its all perfectly Legal.

Picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue... (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332940)

Oh crap. Now I am probably screwed for life for making a drug joke....

Seemed to have ended Lloyd Bridge's career as well. Then again, I actually *liked* [Jane Austen's] Mafia!

Re:Picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue... (1)

lordharsha (1101875) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332984)

Speaking of mafia, are the brave men and women of the Police and Fire Department prohibited from playing Mafia Wars since, in their own words, it "is blatantly inconsistent with the mission of the Police Department that employs her."

And another thing, do they need to report which of their friends do play the game to the City Overlords too? Hell, are they fired for cultivating personal friendships with possible mafia members?

Opportunity! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32332942)

This is an opportunity for her to change to an employer that does not read her facebook page.

Employers need to be slapped down (4, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332966)

As long as your physical performance on the job isn't affected, your employer should have no right to use what you do outside of work hours against you, unless they're paying you to be on-call (and even then, there should be limits).

End of story.

It all depends on what you mean ... (5, Interesting)

golodh (893453) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332972)

Speaking with a former President: it all depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

If you take the question as: "Is posting snarky content on Facebook about evading drugs testing sufficient grounds to disqualify you from your job, and hence set you up for justifiable dismissal?", the answer is obviously: "No.".

If you take the question as: "Is posting snarky content on Facebook about evading drugs testing on part of an emergency dispatcher sufficient ground to disqualify said dispatcher from her job", the answer would shift to: "Probably not".

However, if you were to take the question as: "Suppose you are a manager in charge of emergency services. Suppose you catch one of your employees, in a fairly critical position too, writing snarky stuff on Facebook about evading drugs testing. Is that a risk to you? Would it make YOU look bad if she did anything wrong in her job (however unrelated to actual substance abuse)?", then the answer is a definite: "Yes". For that reason said manager will face the choice of (a) actually looking into the matter, forming a personal judgement, and exposing himself and his career tot potential damage just to be fair to an employee or (b) simply firing her and getting a replacement. Which option do you think would make more sense from a CYA perspective and would also make said manager look good, competent, ruthless, and dedicated?

There are no bonus points for coming up with answer (b). So that particular dispatcher is hereby dispatched. Such is the power of new electronic media, classical all-American CYA considerations, and age-old guilt-by-association thinking.

Re:It all depends on what you mean ... (5, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333164)

Well, on the plus side, there's no need to feel bad for her. She's likely to file--and win--a substantial lawsuit against the city for wrongful termination which will not only net her her job back (if she wants it) but also her pension and a decent chunk of change for her troubles.

Such is the power of firing people for no reason and ignoring an arbiter who told you that you did so.

Re:It all depends on what you mean ... (2, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333216)

The real answer is to pry the HR drones away from Facebook and make them get back to work, thus making this entirely a non-issue.
That's not likely to happen, so kids it's time to learn the lesson the net taught everyone else long before there was a world wide web - don't use your real name if you want to write anything that may offend the most easily offended person you can think of.

Re:It all depends on what you mean ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333274)

The real answer is to pry the HR drones away from Facebook and make them get back to work, thus making this entirely a non-issue.

This is their work.

No, but. . . (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32332978)

. . . she should be fired for being dumb enough to add her boss and/or coworkers as friends. Seriously, how have people not learned this yet?!

Activate Slashdot Affect on City of West Allis (3, Informative)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333006)

Link to webform email City Attorney Scott Post [west-allis.wi.us] Phone #: (414) 302-8450

Link to webform email Mayor Dan Devine [west-allis.wi.us] Phone #: (414) 302-8290

Link to webform email Human Resources director Audrey Key [west-allis.wi.us] Phone #: (414) 302-8292

I'm emailing the Mayor a picture of Kim Jong-il.

Re:Activate Slashdot Effect on City of West Allis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333292)

FTFY

Facebook is not private (1)

mseeger (40923) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333012)

While i seriously doubt the adequacy of the punishment, the baseline is the same as in dozens of cases before: "Someone did something terribly stupid in public and now it has consequences for him/her". Facebook, Twitter, /.-posts are not in private space. Accept that and act accordingly.

Re:Facebook is not private (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333108)

Since when is making a joke about taking drugs something terribly embarrassing that would have an impact on her job as a dispatcher? People make jokes all the time about things they would never do - it doesn't even hint that she actually has a drug problem. This didn't warrant any action against her at all. The real problem that it illustrates is that West Allis has fools in its administration.

Re:Facebook is not private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333206)

Normally jokes/chatter made off the cuff in public live and die in a few minutes, with only minimal risk of having it permanately recorded and accessed by people who may not be happy to hear these jokes.

Jokes/chatter made online on facebook (and other places) live a great deal longer, so you have to be careful what you say if it can be easily traced back to you. People also assume that the longer the medium lasts for ... the more meaning it has.

Posting/talking online is kind of the middle ground between publishing a book and talking in public ... with some mediums closer to publishing a book (facebook, forums, slashdot.org) and others closer to talking. (MSN, IRC)

Re:Facebook is not private (1)

mseeger (40923) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333220)

If i make the joke among friends at my home, that's OK. But making such jokes in public is stupid. It is nearly as stupid as asking "Do you see the bomb?" when passing through the airport security. You don't go on the streets and shout "I am taking drugs". But that comes close to what she has done.

This doesn't disprove that her superiors are fools, nor does it prove it. Usually such events have a backlog that is too complicated to fit in a short post and is therefor omitted. All i can say is: She did something stupid. What amount of punishment is adequate is subject to discussion. It may be unjust, because a lot of people do a lot of stupid things a lot of times and walk away without consequences. But doing stupid things unpunished isn't a right. And that the stupity involved the internet doesn't make the story newsworthy.

CU, Martin

Re:Facebook is not private (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333256)

I killed a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

I hope my employer and future employers don't have a problem with that.

When will people learn? (1)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333062)

People do need to learn that there are employers that monitor Facebook and will terminate people for statements and/or pictures that they deem "offending". Regardless, this firing is beyond ridiculous. This is similar to me telling an off-hand joke, in my private time, that my employer doing continual investigations until they find something to hang termination on.

The time I spend in my private life is off-limits to any employer I work for, as well as anyone else that I do not wish to read my posts or listen to my discussions. Yes, it is dumb to open your Facebook page(or any other social networking page) for everyone to see and it is even dumber to post dumb shit on your page, for the world to see. Still, people should not feel like they are constantly under surveillance.

Privacy (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333084)

Considering recent Facebook snafus with privacy, I would think arguing that this was done on her own time in the privacy of her own home could be difficult.

its not the real reason (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333086)

i've been privy to plenty of firing situations where incompetence/ a horrible attitude problem was the real issue, and the official reason was whatever they could trump up

Re:its not the real reason (1)

falzer (224563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333178)

Why can't incompetence/horrible attitude be the official reason for canning someone?

Arbitration is Binding (4, Informative)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333092)

Arbitration in the US is binding. They can huff and puff and try to blow the decision down, but they are going to lose.

Either she gets her job back or they end up paying her not to do her job.

actually it doesnt matter ..... (3, Funny)

thephydes (727739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333124)

whether it is justifiable or not. Anyone who uses facebook and thinks that they are anonymous or safe (from someone dobbing them in) is an idiot.

Re:actually it doesnt matter ..... (2, Insightful)

wannabgeek (323414) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333268)

What makes you think she is anonymous or assumed that it will not be read by her employer? Her defense is that it is an obvious joke, and that she is not really a drug addict. We don't know the rest of the conversation, may be what she said was funny in the context it was said too.

Like others pointed out, this is probably just an excuse to fire her. The real reason could be something else.

Not sure if this can be considered a joke... (1)

xmunportelli (1564311) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333142)

A Maltese 24 year-old author [timesofmalta.com] wrote what was considered to be a comment inciting hatred on a Facebook page against Pope Benedict XVI visiting Malta and was handed a €500 fine and suspended jail sentence. The debate right now in Malta is whether online media such as blogs and Facebook can be considered publications and as such, should posters be held accountable for what they write regardless of their intended audience.

I think it depends on things not mentioned (3, Interesting)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333182)

The article is pretty vague, just mentions she claimed to be addicted to a few prescription meds amoungst other things. Problem is, is that all she did? Or did she make a comment like that while attached to a photo of her in her city employee work uniform while holding some prescription bottles? If it's just the joke a didn't really show what her job was then I don't see why she was fired. If she made that joke while making it obvious that she works for the city then its a whole other can of worms. Like any job, when your in your uniform you are considered a reflection of your company and must always act it, and if she was in uniform (in a picture) with this joke then she is a very poor reflection of her job and discipline actions should very well be expected. Just like in other job.

Why is it so difficult? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333222)

Don't use the goddamned Facebook.
What's so hard about it?

Is anything publicly visible just grounds? (4, Insightful)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333226)

Does that mean a Coca-Cola employee could be fired because they always buy lunch at Taco Bell and joke about hating the taste of Diet Coke? Does that mean I could be fired from the hotel where I work because I stayed at a Hilton and it was reported that I said Hiltons are much nicer? What if I posted these on a Myspace page? A twitter page? In a privately-visible Facebook entry? Where is the line drawn? Are my first-amendment rights applicable?

Re:Is anything publicly visible just grounds? (4, Interesting)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333258)

Are my first-amendment rights applicable?

No, as they protect you from the government, not from private entities.

Sue the city (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32333228)

I think if I were her my next move would be to sue the city of West Allis for an obsene number of millions of dollars due to wrongful discharge and punitive damages. Why not, she's already won the case.

If their termination process allows one to appeal the decision, in this case she appealed to an arbitrator, then the city would be legally bound by the arbitrator's decision. Apparently in this case the arbitrator handed down a decision and the city said to hell with it. That's like defying a judges order, and any judgement you get against the city in court and I think the judge would break it off in the city's a**. Because judges love it when their orders are blatently ignored.

So the arbiter ruled - end of problem (5, Informative)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333234)

This is a non issue. The arbiter ruled. The person has to go back to work after 30 days.

Sanity prevailed.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Just in from planet markla... (0, Troll)

Niobe (941496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333240)

Hey Earthlings, I've just arrived from a distant planet, and happened across this thread. Wow your planet is lame! Mxaskgplt

Feel safer? (2, Insightful)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#32333248)

On the one hand, they tried to remove an employee in a critical job who had been linked - via a Facebook comment - to drugs. On the other hand, they tried to remove an experienced employee working in a critical job who had submitted to and passed their drug tests. Who would they replace her with? A less experienced dispatcher who talks about drug addiction in bars and at home but not on Facebook?

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