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Teacher's Aide Fired For Refusing To Hand Over Facebook Password

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the keep-your-hands-off-my-friends-list dept.

Businesses 407

An anonymous reader writes "You can add this one to the short but growing list of employers demanding access to Facebook accounts. After refusing to give her Facebook password to her supervisors, Kimberly Hester was fired by Lewis Cass Intermediate School District from her job as an aide to Frank Squires Elementary in Cassopolis, Michigan. She is now fighting a legal battle with the school district."

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407 comments

The battle now begins. (5, Interesting)

sethstorm (512897) | about 2 years ago | (#39541105)

Is it required to break a legal contract with one entity to maintain employment with another?

Fuck you Slashdot (-1, Troll)

ThurstonMoore (605470) | about 2 years ago | (#39541159)

Fuck you and April 1st.

Re:Fuck you Slashdot (2, Insightful)

Travelsonic (870859) | about 2 years ago | (#39541187)

Well, YES it IS April 1st, BUT serious shit has, ironically, been reported on that day too.

Re:Fuck you Slashdot (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#39541401)

The only thing more annoying than /. April Fool's articles is people complaining about them. Especially on real stories...

Re:The battle now begins. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541199)

Is FB going to ban the supervisor (if s/he has an account on FB) for breach of the terms of service? That could be an effective deterrent.

Re:The battle now begins. (2)

Khyber (864651) | about 2 years ago | (#39541235)

I would think it only permissible in the case of a clear conflict of interest.

Re:The battle now begins. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541261)

Teachers need to be held to a higher standard, so alas this case is not the poster child you are seeking.

I don't want my daughter's teacher to post such profane content on her FB page without repercussions. It is well understood that you give up some of your privacy and rights on a school campus. The fact she posted it from home is irrelevant. She was on campus when a supervisor asked her for her password. The supervisor had reasonable cause to suspect inappropriate content in this woman's FB account and sought rightfully to check it out. It is part of their responsibility to protect our children. What if this teacher had candid photos of children on their page? Or worse.

Re:The battle now begins. (4, Interesting)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 2 years ago | (#39541353)

and that is why school districts require friending of specific people (HR/Legal) on Facebook. If they're posting anything inappropriate then it should show up where that individual can see/read/vet the posts. If they're contacting students on the sly outside of FB using alternative channels, then they have to rely on the parents and kids to report any inappropriate activity.

In this case, the supervisor was incorrect in demanding her FB PW and if they had suspicions, they should have reported them to either the HR or the Police Depts who's job it is. Instead, the idiot has just cost the district One Million plus for a wrongful termination suit and the Union is going to be all over this issue in the next contract negotiations where it's going to be a firing offense for someone to even ask a member to friend them for anyreason at all.

Re:The battle now begins. (5, Insightful)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 2 years ago | (#39541365)

"Oh just think of the children!"

What the teacher does outside of school is none of the school's business.

If the teacher is stupid enough to friend her pupils, then he/she is going to find themselves in trouble. Teachers are by definition in a position of authority over their class, and they shouldn't be seen as a friend. Mentor perhaps - someone the kids can turn to if the going gets tough - but never a friend in the truest sense of the word.

If that is the way it is in classrooms these days - no wonder there's no discipline amongst school kids.

Re:The battle now begins. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541421)

Oh, my! And to think ol' Newt Gringrich's first wife (of 3) was his math teacher!

Re:The battle now begins. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541551)

It is conceivable that facebook could be used in a way similar to online classroom software is used in colleges, but free. Reminders, class notes, practice exam questions, can all be linked on a facebook group. Considering how much time children spend on facebook, having the teacher injecting academic bits into their streams would be an excellent way to keep kids updated. I would commend any teacher who made such an innovative use of social networking technology in the classroom.

Battle over before it begins. (4, Insightful)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 2 years ago | (#39541639)

And I, as a father, would reject any attempts by a teacher to develop a 'social' network of any kind that I did not say OK to, and I'm not going to (well, wouldn't have).

The reason is that schooling is not part and parcel to every moment of a child's life. Just as with work, there needs to be down time. It's not the teacher's job to be my kid's "pal".

Kids are greatly influenced by the ideas of their "pals". I wanted my kid school aged kid influenced by her peers, not an adult other than me and my friends. Then as now, adults just couldn't keep politics out of other people's faces.

Re:The battle now begins. (5, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | about 2 years ago | (#39541379)

It is well understood that you give up some of your privacy and rights on a school campus.

Only in your head. In the real world, and a supposedly free country, your rights to privacy (in your personal life) never cease to exist anywhere.

The fact she posted it from home is irrelevant. She was on campus when a supervisor asked her for her password.

Bullshit. 1,000,000% relevant. If I am at work, on corporate equipment, I have no rights to privacy as long as I am performing work in accordance with my job. That's reasonable. Once I am off the clock, at home, using my own equipment (that I paid for), nobody can claim a "right" to invade my privacy.

What if this teacher had candid photos of children on their page? Or worse.

Ohhh, Golly Gee Willickers!!!! I had not thought about that!!!

Of course, I see it now. Think of the children! I forgot about that. Let's suspend Freedom, Liberty, and all that happy crap right away to protect them....

Re:The battle now begins. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541607)

What if this teacher had candid photos of children on their page? Or worse.

Ohhh, Golly Gee Willickers!!!! I had not thought about that!!! Of course, I see it now. Think of the children! I forgot about that. Let's suspend Freedom, Liberty, and all that happy crap right away to protect them....

Instead of a non-answer, perhaps you could have added at least a little bit of an answer of "if someone had illegal material on their stuff, then it's up to the police to investigate any such accusations, per their job. One (ideally) does not give up their rights just because someone claims something. There tends to be the need of proof and once there is, police can get a warrant."

Re:The battle now begins. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541417)

I couldn't care lesss... I wouldn't even care if my childrens teacher was a pornstar on the side... The only ones I wouldn't want teaching my children were religious people that deny science/evolution or people in hategroups.

Re:The battle now begins. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541529)

I don't want my daughter's teacher to post such profane content on her FB page without repercussions. It is well understood that you give up some of your privacy and rights on a school campus. The fact she posted it from home is irrelevant. She was on campus when a supervisor asked her for her password. The supervisor had reasonable cause to suspect inappropriate content in this woman's FB account and sought rightfully to check it out. It is part of their responsibility to protect our children. What if this teacher had candid photos of children on their page? Or worse.

I am thankful that, given your incredibly moronic and misguided view of freedom of speech and expression, that we, in the US, at least have a modicum of excellent case law, e.g., Spanierman v. Hughes et al., to provide some protection for teachers from horrendous individuals like yourself.

Re:The battle now begins. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541621)

Oh, protect the teachers, I see. You goddamn liberals and your unions are going to be the death of this great land

Re:The battle now begins. (2)

lightknight (213164) | about 2 years ago | (#39541603)

Depends on the entity (if Uncle Sam wants that password, he's going to get it 9/10 times).

But what these people are currently doing? Illegal. While there may be reason (in the Puritan sense of the word) not to employ someone who conflicts with your company / community / whatever, there isn't any reason to ask for a password to an account that has no relationship with said employer. Employ the person or not, asking for the password is grounds for a lawsuit.

Excellent (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#39541111)

Now the ACLU has a case they can use to clarify that it's illegal to do this under current legislation and put a stop to the nonsense.

It's too bad it'll take so long for it to churn through the courts.

Presuming the ACLU, EFF, et. al. don't decide to wait for a "better" case, that is.

I bet (0, Flamebait)

Gonoff (88518) | about 2 years ago | (#39541113)

that she is really glad she is in the USA where there is a 200 year old document based on 300 year old philosophies to protect her liberty.

Re:I bet (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541241)

that she is really glad she is in the USA where there is a 200 year old document based on 300 year old philosophies to protect her liberty.

I know I am.

No foolin'.

Too bad.. (2)

daffy951 (546697) | about 2 years ago | (#39541123)

..it doesn't seem to be just another april fools joke :/

Re:Too bad.. (3)

froggymana (1896008) | about 2 years ago | (#39541463)

There should definitely be something to tell readers if an article is an April Fool's article or if it is real. Wouldn't have to be too obvious either, and could even be something like a "spoiler" button.

She did the right thing. (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#39541125)

Now we can have this out in court.

Re:She did the right thing. (1)

ZosX (517789) | about 2 years ago | (#39541255)

This shouldn't even be a debate for the courts. Whoever thought this was a good idea is a very unamerican person. Its sad that courts have to decides people's rights to personal privacy.

Re:She did the right thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541337)

Too bad the SCOTUS cannot come out with blanket statements for all to hear.

SCOTUS to citizen of USA: "Stop asking for peoples FUCKING passwords to social sites."

Then we would not have to waste all the time and money running this shit through all the courts. Local michigan, State Michigan. Federal, SCOTUS.

don''t worry... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541141)

the unions will protect her - even pedophiles in the system like in California

This just might be the end of this (2)

pijokela (462279) | about 2 years ago | (#39541147)

Up until now, I've only heard of harassing people applying for jobs. It is easy to demand anything from a job applicant: when they are not selected it was just because they "did not fit" or something. Firing an existing employee is a whole different thing. Now we can finally put a stop to this illegal activity. Or maybe we will learn that it is legal in the U.S. - you never know.

Re:This just might be the end of this (5, Insightful)

Mr Z (6791) | about 2 years ago | (#39541197)

Well, this is a public school. They seem to make an artform out of administrative idiocy, whether it's installing spy software on laptops so they can confuse Mike & Ikes with drugs [myfoxphilly.com] or applying zero tolerance nonsense to activities that take place off school grounds and outside school hours. They make it a point to stick their nose in where it doesn't belong.

Sure, students are largely the victims of this crap, but teachers and administrators occasionally get this crap splattered on them too.

Re:This just might be the end of this (1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | about 2 years ago | (#39541329)

or applying zero tolerance nonsense to activities that take place off school grounds and outside school hours.

Or even applying it in the schools...

Re:This just might be the end of this (2)

Sancho (17056) | about 2 years ago | (#39541435)

Zero tolerance is not idiocy. Well, it's idiocy in the same way that George W. Bush was an "idiot."

Zero tolerance basically gives them a get-out-of-court-free card against racism charges when the school has to punish someone for some activity. Before zero-tolerance, judgement was used, and when black kids were punished for the some activity, there were almost always cries of racism. ZT ended that, because the policy is easy to point to and there is no human judgement to call into question.

Re:This just might be the end of this (1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | about 2 years ago | (#39541473)

That's true, but he mentioned that these events take place outside of school hours. No one would be punished, so there shouldn't (Who am I kidding?) be cries of racism.

Re:This just might be the end of this (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 2 years ago | (#39541617)

People who work in positions that involve interactions with children, like school employees, are often punished by the employer for things that happen at home. Your local McDonald's won't fire you for working as a stripper on the weekends, but the school district will.

Re:This just might be the end of this (1)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#39541495)

I don't think your assessment of ZT is correct but it's nonetheless an interesting idea.

Re:This just might be the end of this (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#39541505)

Firing an existing employee is a whole different thingFiring an existing employee is a whole different thing.

Sadly, it takes a school to do something THAT stupid.

Another reason not to "friend" everyone you know. (5, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#39541151)

Another reason not to "friend" everyone you know. Seriously, if you want to keep personal and work separate, keep it separate! No one I work with is on my facebook.

Re:Another reason not to "friend" everyone you kno (2)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 2 years ago | (#39541297)

Although this is probably a good practice, it is irrelevant to the story. It shouldn't matter if she keeps her personal and work contacts separate. The heart of the matter is that this is 'her' Facebook page. It is private, and none of her employers business as to what she posts there. If a judge orders her to reveal her password, that's a different matter, but her employer has no legal grounds to order and expect obedience for such regardless of who she friends, what combination she friends them with, or what content she posts.

Another reason not to "friend" everyone you know. Seriously, if you want to keep personal and work separate, keep it separate! No one I work with is on my Facebook.

Re:Another reason not to "friend" everyone you kno (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#39541461)

She was reported by a parent of a student. How did that parent see the post if not a friend? Lots of teachers friend students and parents. I think that is dangerous, and FaceBook is dangerous enough.

Re:Another reason not to "friend" everyone you kno (1)

EdIII (1114411) | about 2 years ago | (#39541405)

I take an even better step. My Facebook password is null. No account to start with....

Obsession and Acquiescence (5, Insightful)

mfwitten (1906728) | about 2 years ago | (#39541153)

I don't understand this obsession people have with gaining access to people's Facebook accounts. What is the origin of this craze? Why is it considered acceptable to require from people a Facebook password, but not, say, a Gmail account password?

Even more so, I don't understand this acquiescence to "authority" that many people seem to display; why in the world would you give somebody else your password like this?

Re:Obsession and Acquiescence (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39541229)

Most people are dumb enough to use the same email addrs / username / password for all online sites. So to be "k00l and Trendy" you ask for the facebook password, but you know that is also her eHarmony login info, her bank login info, her amazon login info, probably her /. login info, etc.

acquiescence to "authority"

That is the obsession HR is looking for. A nice mindless sheep who will never say "no". Illegal? Who cares. Immoral and unethical? Who cares.

I'd be terrified if I had kids in the "Lewis Cass Intermediate School District". The people they are looking to hire will have to be absolute monsters, unsuited to being in charge of kids. Holy Nuremberg Defense batman!

what about the IT rule of not giveing passwords? (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#39541269)

what about the IT rule of not giving out passwords? acquiescence to "authority" what about breaking IT / security rules?

Re:what about the IT rule of not giveing passwords (1)

lightknight (213164) | about 2 years ago | (#39541647)

Well, apparently, the populace doesn't care for IT's rules and policies until they've been cited with a 'red cup' on one of their own accounts. Then they hide behind IT.

But yes, I see a power play going on here between IT and HR, and it's going to get ugly.

Notify facebook and contact an attorney (5, Interesting)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 2 years ago | (#39541173)

This is not perfect, but one possibility might be to set up a dummy facebook account and give that to them, rather than your real one. However, it is clear, this should be illegal, people who run into this should contact a lawyer and file lawsuits, as well, Facebook has expressed interest in filing lawsuits against employers who do this, so, notify Facebook of this if an Employer, or anyone else, has requested your password.

Re:Notify facebook and contact an attorney (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541215)

This is not perfect, but one possibility might be to set up a dummy facebook account and give that to them, rather than your real one. However, it is clear, this should be illegal, people who run into this should contact a lawyer and file lawsuits, as well, Facebook has expressed interest in filing lawsuits against employers who do this, so, notify Facebook of this if an Employer, or anyone else, has requested your password.

Please use more commas in your next post.

Re:Notify facebook and contact an attorney (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541259)

It's called grammar, get used to it.

Re:Notify facebook and contact an attorney (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541491)

It's called a run-on sentence composed of multiple comma-splices, and it's incorrect. Learn about it.

Re:Notify facebook and contact an attorney (4, Interesting)

gstrickler (920733) | about 2 years ago | (#39541237)

Setting up a dummy account is a violation of FB terms of service, as is giving someone else your password. Neither is acceptable. The company can have the password to my company owned/sanctioned accounts when necessary, but they will never have the password to my personal accounts, and they have no right to even ask for them.

Re:Notify facebook and contact an attorney (4, Insightful)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 2 years ago | (#39541239)

By the way what they are asking is similar to demanding that you give them the keys to your house so they can search your house, or them demanding that they strip search you, even an employer searching your purse or bags is unacceptable, among other things. What is going on here is something like stalking, harrassment, invasion of privacy and so on, employers who do this must be punished. This is an example of how corporations and private entities can be as much or more of a violation of rights against us, and why we need legal protections against corporations and private entities as much as we do government.

Welcome to Michigan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541223)

After all, Sharia law has already made a foothold there. If you think this is a problem go see what life is like in cultures that use Sharia law as their total doctrine.

Don't use Facebook. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541225)

What is it with you idiots who cannot grasp how unnecessary
Facebook is ?

Are you all sheep ?

Re:Don't use Facebook. (4, Insightful)

Soporific (595477) | about 2 years ago | (#39541281)

Pretty much everything but food and shelter is not absolutely necessary. Slashdot is equally unnecessary, so why would you post here if you believe what you say?

~S

Re:Don't use Facebook. (3, Funny)

mfnickster (182520) | about 2 years ago | (#39541315)

Without Facebook, I'd have to e-mail all my female friends indivisually and ASK them for photos of them making peace signs and duck faces.

Like it or not, FB is inarguably much more convenient for that sort of thing!

Re:Don't use Facebook. (2)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#39541545)

I never understood the reason people took a FB account, thanks for the explanation!

Now I see even less reason :)

Re:Don't use Facebook. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541635)

Trolling troll is trolling. Move along.

Because it was in michigan.... (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#39541231)

She will be getting a few years of pay from illegal dismissal.

the school screwed up big time. Michigan is not a right to work state, so they cant fire you for any reason. and this school was retarded enough to publicize WHY she was fired so now it's a slam dunk in court.

If she get's a good lawyer, she will walk away with 10 years of her salary from the school.

Re:Because it was in michigan.... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#39541325)

Michigan is not a right to work state, so they cant fire you for any reason.

That is not what Right to Work [wikipedia.org] means. Unless she is in a union, right-to-work doesn't even apply to her.

Re:Because it was in michigan.... (3, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 2 years ago | (#39541395)

Yeah that's a big part of what "Right To Work" is. The name itself is doublespeak. All it is about is limiting the rights of the workers, and giving all the power to the owners. Less retirement funds, less health care, less pay, and less rights for the worker is what "Right to Work" is all about. Yet another way for industries to abandon their social responsibilities.

Re:Because it was in michigan.... (2)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 2 years ago | (#39541333)

And quite right too! Too many in America just accept that their employer has the right to do anything they want, at any time even if they aren't paying their employee 24/7/365.

(Caveat: I'm assuming this isn't a April Fools joke seeing as it was posted after 12)

Re:Because it was in michigan.... (2)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 2 years ago | (#39541361)

Even in right to work states you can take someone to court for wrong dismissal. Unfortunately you can come up with any bullshit story. This has happened to my current employer a few times. We'll bend over backwards to try and get you to be a good fit for the company, and the malcontent people will just get a lawyer and make stuff up. I believe the most anyone has got out of us is about 10,000 in a settlement.

One of the people was claiming discrimination. Because he was Hispanic we apparently told him to clean the bathrooms, on his own time, because that's the only thing mexicans are good for. Because we didn't have documentation saying we didn't do these things, the judge was siding with him more than us. It's ridiculous. Now, I'm not saying that we don't discriminate against minorities, because I'm sure we do as far as wages are concerned (though I think a lot of people are underpaid there regardless of their race). I've also noticed that the minorities don't do business politics to well, which can only hurt their efforts for earning higher wages (let's face it, you have to place business politics to some degree), but I digress. I would frequently come in early, or stay late, never saw the man there early or late cleaning the bathrooms. I would come in on the weekends sometimes, never saw him there cleaning the bathrooms.

This individual was an ill tempered human being who tried to start fights with quite a few different people and still somehow kept his job for a decent time period. We even had former employees write in saying that he was one of the primary reasons they left. Yet, the judges didn't care because we didn't document not doing these things. Essentially, right to work doesn't always mean a lot for an employer. I realize my example is anecdotal, but it appears courts would rather err on the side of the caution and believe the person complaining instead of actually considering all evidence at hand when it comes to these matters.

Re:Because it was in michigan.... (1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | about 2 years ago | (#39541447)

Because we didn't have documentation saying we didn't do these things, the judge was siding with him more than us.

If you were so innocent, then why couldn't you prove it!? Clearly everyone is guilty until proven innocent.

One more reason to not have RTW (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about 2 years ago | (#39541373)

RTW only exists to kill unions, not provide choice to join one. Unless there is a law that prohibits indirect/contingent labor as any condition or form of employment, which is the employers' version of the labor union, RTW makes things worse. The only way you can get a population to accept it, is to use regional sensitivities to make it acceptable to "know your place" and not get too "uppity".

Re:Because it was in michigan.... (1)

besalope (1186101) | about 2 years ago | (#39541507)

Michigan follows the employment at will doctrine. Employers can terminate employment for any reason as they see fit, while workers retain the right to walk away from unsatisfactory working conditions. However, even with this model there is still the possibility of wrongful termination.

A number of workplaces are starting to develop and release Social Networking guidelines to restrict how employees are associating their personal social lives to their workplace's public image. If the school had a Social Networking clause in her contract or if similar information was covered or in a handbook provided at an orientation, then the school is within the bounds of employment law. Otherwise, they may be at risk for a lawsuit.

Teachers are becoming expendable.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541243)

Who would really want to be a teacher these days anyway? They have to put up with an ever growing list of shit for a not so great salary and now we hear that Oxford scientists have found how to 'program' the brain directly so that new languages can be learned in a day [badatlanguage.com]! So pretty soon real live human teachers will be an extinct species..

Why is Facebook suddenly concerned about Privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541247)

The school district is just taking the wrong approach. If they would just pay companies like Facebook, Google and her cellular provider, they could buy far more information about the teacher than they could learn with her password. They could probably find out more than the teacher knows about herself or knew was recorded -- everywhere she has gone, everyone she knows, every website she's visited, everyone she's emailed, called, etc. etc.

Facebook's objection to people handing out their passwords is that it cuts them out of the deal.

Re:Why is Facebook suddenly concerned about Privac (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#39541519)

Yes and no. Mostly no.

Facebook want you to open your soul to their system - to make connections and fan out to every friend you have. Until there are 7 billion people putting all of their most intimate secrets on FB, they will have growth potential.

It's true they sell data, but primarily they sell advertising - "anonymous" advertising so that you don't feel like you're being watched. They really don't give a shit how you are and what you do, as long as it can be categorized and sold to people who want to sell their products to people like you. Note I did not say "you" but "people like you."

Personal identification is exactly what FB is worried about when it comes to advertisers, because it scares off the users (aka their product). That's good for users, too.

Simple, yet effective solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541279)

1. Create Facebook account
2. Make it a museum of disgusting art: goatse, tubgirl, dead fetuses.
3. Make them sign a NDA over the account's content. Happily hand over password.
4. ....
5. Profit!
6. Walk out of interview, wishing everyone sweet dreams.
7. Do so threatening to sue if they damage "your property" (i.e. the account), or notify facebook of its content.
8. Threaten to sue if they hire someone less qualifified to do the job.
9. Quote your income expectations, 50% above the market level.
10. ....
11. Profit!

Fuck them and their mentalitiy. AND let them know.

Just to understand the other side... (5, Informative)

voss (52565) | about 2 years ago | (#39541295)

Kimberly Hester does not have clean hands. Posting an offensive picture of a co-worker with pants around ankles could be considered sexual harassment.

This is not harmless fun "A parent and Facebook friend of Hester’s saw the photo and complained to the school."
What teachers and employees do reflects upon the schools.

Teachers and school employees have a higher standard of care especially when posting comments about other employees.
Schools can and have been sued for failure to act in cases of sexual harassment. The school district had reasonable suspicion.

Re:Just to understand the other side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541323)

If someone else saw the photo and complained about it, why can't they hand over credentials?

Re:Just to understand the other side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541355)

Why would a co-worker be exposing themselves in the first place? Presumably the camera wasn't hidden.

Re:Just to understand the other side... (4, Informative)

hazem (472289) | about 2 years ago | (#39541381)

Kimberly Hester does not have clean hands. Posting an offensive picture of a co-worker with pants around ankles could be considered sexual harassment.

This still does not justify asking for access to her account or firing her for it. If they need information from any of her accounts (email, social media, or otherwise) they should be going through the courts to go through a process of discovery to get access to that material.

As it is now, if they were to gain access, any evidence would be immediately suspect because now there is no way to prove that they themselves did not put the offending information there.

So even if the administration felt justified in asking for her account information, actually getting it and using it to log into her account would be monumentally stupid.

Re:Just to understand the other side... (1)

crakbone (860662) | about 2 years ago | (#39541631)

Honestly how hard is it for the "offended" to take a screenshot. That right there is all the evidence the school needs.

Re:Just to understand the other side... (2)

Jedi Alec (258881) | about 2 years ago | (#39541383)

The school district had reasonable suspicion.

If there is a reasonable case to be made that in order for justice to be done, an individual's privacy needs to be invaded, then there is this funny thing called the Judiciary that can authorize it.

Judges can tell you to cough up your password, not Principals.

Re:Just to understand the other side... (1)

gstrickler (920733) | about 2 years ago | (#39541531)

Even Judges can't according to recent rulings. However, they can issue a warrant requiring FB to turn over the items in question.

But more to the point, the person making the complaint/allegation should have provided a printout of the picture in question. Without that, there isn't even reasonable suspicion, just an unsubstantiated allegation.

Re:Just to understand the other side... (1)

Airline_Sickness_Bag (111686) | about 2 years ago | (#39541389)

"Kimberly Hester does not have clean hands. Posting an offensive picture of a co-worker with pants around ankles could be considered sexual harassment."

So you claim this to be a fact?

Re:Just to understand the other side... (2)

Omestes (471991) | about 2 years ago | (#39541509)

Back in the mid-90's when I was in high school, one of our hall monitor type people got drunk in Mexico, and did all manner of silly drunken things. She did this on a "faculty" trip. The guy who ran the study hall (yes, I was a bad apple) showed the pictures too all of us on a website maintained by another faculty member during one round of detention. I don't think he got in any trouble over it, and the woman in the pictures actually found it rather amusing too, as did we, since she was known as a hard-ass, and probably put most of us in study hall to begin with.

He was eventually fired though, since he allowed "bad" kids to sit around chatting instead of being duly punished (and would warn us when someone official was about to come in the room, so we could all scamper back to our corners). He also used to let us smoke in the bathrooms, keeping watch against teachers and monitors. I loved him. Then again, school was much more lax then, pre-Columbine.

Re:Just to understand the other side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541511)

Kimberly Hester does not have clean hands. Posting an offensive picture of a co-worker with pants around ankles could be considered sexual harassment.

Clean hands is not the same as a firing offense. I'm sure like most large bureaucracies, they have a process to go through for allegations of sexual harassment. They didn't follow it.

The article doesn't say exactly what she was fired for. There's more detail here [wsbt.com], but still not clear. Was she fired for refusing to hand over the password? Fired for posting the photo? Something else?

This is not harmless fun "A parent and Facebook friend of Hesterâ(TM)s saw the photo and complained to the school." What teachers and employees do reflects upon the schools.

I saw a teacher park badly at the supermarket yesterday. I'm going to complain to the school and get her fired. It reflects badly on the school when teachers don't know how to park.

Schools can and have been sued for failure to act in cases of sexual harassment. The school district had reasonable suspicion.

Suspicion of what? If she was fired for sexual harassment, the school didn't follow their sexual harassment procedures. That creates liability.

Was the photo taken illegally? Doesn't appear to be the case. Was the subject of the photo complaining? Doesn't appear to be the case. Was posting the photo libel/slander? Doesn't appear to be the case.

Of course, it's April 1, but the article seems to be from earlier.

"At Will" Employment (2)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 2 years ago | (#39541321)

This will prove VERY interesting in states that have "At Will" employment. In those states, an employer can fire you or you can leave...for no specific reason.

However, this is an invasion of privacy and also is requiring the employee to violate another contract via coercion (penalty is the loss of their job if they don't).

Some may say that if they don't have anything to hide, what's the big deal? Big deal is that should not be a reason to give up your privacy. Period.

If someone tried to force me to give up my privacy, I would expect them to sign a document stating their reason for having done so and what the penalties are for non-compliance. Then, I would take that immediately to a lawyer for litigation. I will not work for anyone this draconian. Already turned down a job because they wanted me to disclose more of my IP without being willing to sign an NDA/Non-Compete for that information. This is none of their business. Period.

I am not sure which political party is pushing this sort of access greater - Democrat or Republican - you hear how the Democrats are pushing us towards martial law. Yet, the restrictions and powers of individuals really started eroding following 9/11 under Republican rule. I am guessing (perhaps, incorrectly), on this being a Republican issue. If they win this time around, expect more "corporate" rights (they already have been ruled "individuals" by the Supreme Court) and fewer personal freedoms and protections for yourself - the "individual" with the deeper pockets will win - just as they always have.

Re:"At Will" Employment (3, Insightful)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | about 2 years ago | (#39541425)

I am not sure which political party is pushing this sort of access greater

Both. They're both absolute garbage. They aren't always proposing the same things, but both seem to be in favor of eroding our freedoms.

Re:"At Will" Employment (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#39541601)

The only difference between Republican and Democrat politicians, is that one side can cheat on a spouse and still have a career... Oh, wait... Newt... Never mind. No difference at all. That all want all the money and all the power for all time.

Not quite (5, Informative)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#39541327)

TFS gets it wrong and TFA never clarifies.

The administrator asked to view the Facebook account [wsbt.com] - no request was made for her password. Whether or not this is OK remains up for debate, but having the facts is always preferable...

Bzzzt, they asked "administration access". (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541521)

From the page you pasted: "In a letter to Hester from the Lewis Cass ISD Special Education Director, he wrote "â¦in the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly.""

How obvious does it have to be?

Re:Not quite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541537)

Whether it is legal might be up for debate. Whether it is okay is obvious: it's not.

"...we are going to assume the worst..."

Basically they're taking the word of a single parent against her. A parent who was apparently too stupid to copy the picture or print it out.

Regardless, let this be a lesson to educators: Don't friend parents on Facebook. Years ago, my kid's teacher was my ex-wife's friend on Facebook. She said some pretty stupid things, completely forgetting that parents were there too. My ex-wife isn't a total bitch and I'm not a dick. We get that people need to vent. So we didn't say anything to her employer. But a lot of parents will, even for innocuous things.

Re:Not quite (1)

gstrickler (920733) | about 2 years ago | (#39541577)

It's still a warrantless search and and invasion of privacy. The person making the allegation should have provided evidence (e.g. a printout of the alleged photo and/or comments). Had the person making the complaint provided evidence, there would be no need to request access to her FB account, or if there was a question about the validity of the evidence presented, it would have been sufficient to obtain a warrant to have FB confirm/deny the existence of the picture and/or comments. Lacking that, it's a fishing expedition based on an unsubstantiated allegation, and almost certainly a wrongful dismissal.

IANAL

Re:Not quite (0)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#39541595)

Exactly. This has little to do directly with facebook. It has to do with a public employee acting in manner that may be inappropriate. As a public employee one is taking tax money from the public and as such are required to behave in an appropriate manner. If this were a private sector employee, it might be different, but as public employee, particularly an employee contracted with a public school, there specific things that can and cannot be done. In particular gossiping about teachers and students is a no no. Posting a picture of a teacher with pants down is another. Refusing a reasonable request of a supervisor three times is often another trigger for immediate dismissal.

One supposes that this aid was engaging in inappropriate activity on Facebook, as defined by her hiring contract, and instead of exposing the inappropriate activity, which might have been less defensible, made the case about passwords, which was more defensible. It might be a good strategy. But, in the end, if the union defends her, it is just going to make it worse for everyone else. Teachers, teachers aids, are the public face of schools, and schools have a need to protect themselves. By exposing every sordid detail on Facebook, by complaining online instead of commiserating with friends at the bar, people are just setting themselves up for pain.

But I don't use Facebook... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541387)

...so is a Facebook account now a condition for employment?

Constitutional Argument? (2)

kidphoton (575170) | about 2 years ago | (#39541429)

Since her employer is a governmental body, doesn't this violate her rights under the 4th amendment to be secure in her private papers, and the 5th amendment in that she can not be forced to incriminate herself by allowing them access to her account?

equals search warrant (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 2 years ago | (#39541437)

Being fired for not giving up your password is the same thing as being fired for not voluntarily submitting to a whole house search but waiting instead for a search warrant. The district will lose big time on this. Giving up your password violates Facebook policy. I also wonder if the school district itself has a policy for protecting their own district-issued passwords. If so and if it is equally as strong or stronger than Facebook's, they're in a boatload of hurt.

I would donate to her legal defense (3, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#39541553)

is there a paypal (sigh; yeah, I hate PP but its what is used, these days) for donations?

this is something we all need to get behind and ensure that the school gets a VERY bloody punch in the face (figuratively) from their bad behavior.

the only way a corp will ever learn is if they are punished and punished HARD. almost put-them-out-of-business hard. I don't care if its a school; a lesson (lol) needs to be taught here.

I'll donate. but I don't see an addr for that; is there one?

and yes, I realize the lawyers will make out the best on this; but I still want a lesson to be taught to asshole companies and organizations who think they have free reign over workers' privacy.

Against policy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39541563)

Assuming they are truly asking her for her password, then, like most organizations they don't seem to follow their own policies.

http://www.lewiscassisd.org/tech/Tech%20plan%2009-12%20Final%20Copy.pdf

From page 14: "D. Respect the integrity of passwords and/ authentication pass phrases. The exchanging of passwords or seeking the
password of others is explicitly prohibited, unless authorized by the other user(s)."

and Page 17: "B. Staff members may only access the Internet by using their assigned Internet/E-mail account. Use of another person's
account/address/password is prohibited. Staff members may not allow other users to utilize their passwords.
C. Staff members may not intentionally seek information on, obtain copies of, or modify files, data or passwords belonging
to other users, or misrepresent other users on the network."

I would imagine one of the forms she has to sign states that a violation of the policy is grounds for termination, so by their own polices they could fire her is she did share her Facebook password with them.

Postpone the Outrage! (1)

AO (62151) | about 2 years ago | (#39541599)

Before you turn red in the face, and your blood pressure raises to unsafe levels, please take note of the date of the article.

This is Slashdot...there has not been a true news story on April 1st for over a decade! (and some will claim it is not limited to just April Fools' day!!)

Alternative Solutions (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | about 2 years ago | (#39541605)

I've been seeing stories like this a lot lately. Of course, like most people, my immediate reaction is that this is ridiculous. Should employers be able to access your email accounts as well? How about your Amazon or eBay purchase histories?

But, aren't there other ways around this? If your Facebook is sufficiently secured, how would an employer even know you use Facebook unless you are honest/foolish enough to tell them you use it? If your employer can't just randomly look you up on Facebook, then they don't know you're using it.

I'm also tempted to suggest simply deleting your Facebook - better to let it burn rather than fall into "enemy" hands, if you will. But, for people who use it as a primary means of communication that's probably not an option.

My personal answer (2)

sethstorm (512897) | about 2 years ago | (#39541625)

If I am asked that question, I'd say the following:

While I am aware of your concerns with my personal conduct, giving my credentials would signify a breach of trust. If I were to do the same in the workplace, it would add liability and likely result in my termination. Is there another way that I can supply this kind of information, such as additional references to my personal character, while retaining the trust that I have built with people that I know personally and professionally?

This might be a bit long(and can be shortened a bit), but it would properly answer both the shoulder surfing and password requests in a courteous manner.

As a side note, why is it always schools? (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 2 years ago | (#39541637)

Why is it always schools where you see some seriously boneheaded management decisions made?

Don't answer, I already know; Because school administration attracts the kind of person that isn't employable elsewhere. The "waste" of society as it were. What that says about US, willing to put that type of person in charge of our kids, I don't even want to think about.

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