“We simply cannot risk any possible link between our mission and the sort of photos and material that you openly share with the online public. While I know you are a good worker and an intelligent person, I hope you try to understand that our employees are held to a different standard. When it comes to private matters, such as one’s sexual explorations and preferences, our employees must keep their affairs private.”
“I was really Clark Kent about it…I dressed like a freaking Mormon when I went in. I was really overcautious and did an extra-good job. Because I always thought that if they ever did find out about it, I would have proved myself so much that they would weigh the pros and cons and decide to proceed a certain way that, you know, wouldn’t fire me. But I wasn’t there long enough to do that, and I don’t think it would have made a difference anyway, with the way they reacted. It’s like — I went from good employee to monster.”
“One of the unfortunate things is that a lot of people are uncomfortable about unconventional sexuality, especially when a woman’s involved…That is not an employer’s job — to police the sexual lives of its employees — and when an employer discriminates on that basis it is sex discrimination and it’s against the law.”
I once had a boss who made the illegal statement, “we like families,” right when I started working there. I thought it was a strange thing to say and was wondering, “who do I look like, Angelina Jolie?”, but with 20/20 hindsight, it made perfect sense. That workplace was not only highly conventional but also none too savvy about the law in its bumpkinness. I thought my workplace had no business in my personal life or the fact that I didn’t live in the same zip code, which I found out later was taboo.
I think it sets a dangerous precedent for employers to have the ability to make hiring/firing decisions based upon non-performance criteria. The idea of an employees’ “reputation” being in the control of an employer because it may affect the employers’ reputation is in my opinion a stretch. I looked at the entries from The Beautiful Kind. Maybe I’m just a child of the West coast with urban sensibilities, but I fail to see what the big deal is, particularly when the employee wasn’t flaunting her lifestyle by linking her real name to her blog. The only reason this became an issue was the glitch.
While there will be many a finger-wagger clucking about what people should and should not post on the Internet, perhaps the real issue, given how the Internet makes everyday life more transparent and privacy is deader than dead, is that organizations and institutions need to relax the scrutiny and ease up on controlling people’s lives. The alternative is a morality driven not by church or community but by the employee handbook.