Waitress Fired Over Facebook Status

Ashley Johnson was unhappy with the way her shift at work went the other night, so she vented about it on her Facebook page – on her own time. The waitress, who worked at Brixx Pizza in Charlotte, N.C., stayed an hour past her shift to continue serving a table of guests who ended up spending three hours languishing in the restaurant. For her time and extra efforts, the young woman only received a five dollar tip from the table.

Ashley went home and posted on her Facebook page, which is set to private. Keep in mind that she was off the clock, and that she never mentioned the customers by name (or any other identifying factor). Her manager apparently decided to read her Facebook Wall, and didn’t like what he saw. The company fired the girl a couple of days later; she “violated a company policy banning workers from speaking disparagingly about customers and casting the restaurant in a bad light on a social network.”

Public outcry over this is loud. There are hundreds of messages being left per hour on the Brixx Facebook Fan Page. People from all over the world are outraged that the company would fire an employee for invoking her right to express herself on her own personal time, in a semi-private place (and Facebook, as we’re discovering, is anything but private). The customers weren’t mentioned by name, nor were they identified in any way. Ms. Johnson simply expressed her displeasure over the situation, as any of us would.

I don’t pretend to know what the employment laws are in North Carolina, but I cannot believe that they extend to firing an employee over something they post on their personal social networking page during their personal (off-work) time. Her comment likely would not have harmed the company in any way. However, the manager’s decision to fire her just may lose them a bit of business. Many people are calling for boycotts, and word is spreading like wildfire. Perhaps the people higher-up at Brixx better take a closer look at who they have managing their restaurants, and the policies they have for dealing with employees who aren’t on the clock.

I can tell you that in the state of Washington, an employer can fire anybody for any reason (or without reason, for that matter). But when that dismissal is deemed wrongful by the terminated party, all hell could very well break loose and the business may find itself in the middle of a PR nightmare.

I’m not sure we have the full story, but maybe the moral to the story is… STOP SHARING THINGS YOU DON’T WANT THE REST OF THE WORLD TO DISCOVER.