I’ll admit I’m a Facebook fanatic. I work in a small doctor’s office on the Peninsula. Out of the blue, the doctor, who is the owner of the practice and my boss, sent out an email to all of us who work for him, stating that he will not tolerate any inappropriate postings or photos on our Facebook pages. I’m not sure what prompted this because none of us have friended him. Sure we cut up and get a little sassy on it, but I never get on Facebook when I’m working and I don’t see why it’s any of his business as to what I do on my own time. And what he thinks is inappropriate may not be inappropriate to me. I’m not happy; I’m offended!
Offended Facebook fanatic
Dear Offended Facebook fanatic:
I have to side with your boss. I tell all my clients that they are always representing their employers whether or not they are on the clock. Hence, it is critical that your behavior in public is always professional, even when you are not working. Virginia is an employment-at-will state, so if an employee does not have a contractual relationship with his/her employer, the employer can terminate the employee at any time for any reason, or for no reason except for a few exceptions and as long as it is not an illegal reason (i.e., discrimination of one of the protected classes). You can click on the following link from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry for more detail: http://www.doli.virginia.gov/laborlaw/laborlaw_faqs.html.
Despite the privacy settings on Facebook, do not lose sight of the fact that you cannot control the individuals who you allow to view your page. Generally speaking, Facebook is easily searchable by the general public and is rather permanent. A good rule of thumb is to not put anything on Facebook or any other social network that you would not feel comfortable discussing with or showing your boss.
Having said that, I suggest that you and your colleagues ask your boss for clarification on what he means by inappropriate, and always exercise discretion when you are on Facebook or any other social network.
I’m sure you’re familiar with The Virginian Pilot’s “Best Of…” contest for businesses in Hampton Roads. I have a friend who started her own accounting practice last year. She emailed me with a request to cast a vote for her firm and explained how I would have to register with the paper if I had not voted in one of these before. I found it to be a tedious process and I had a feeling it would be, but I wanted to support my friend and hoped she would do the same for me if I asked her to. What got to me is that she never thanked me, even after I sent her an email advising her that I got registered and voted for her. And when I saw her firm listed in the paper as one of the best, I emailed her to congratulate her. And again, I received no response! And we’ve seen each other a few times since this contest because we serve on a community non-profit board together, but neither of us has mentioned it. Well, now she has the audacity to send me an email telling me she would like my support this year. Can you believe it? I want to give her a piece of my mind, but I may just blow her off and ignore her email. What would you do if you were me?
Not the best
Dear Not the best:
Unfortunately, I can empathize with you. Sadly, your situation is not as uncommon as I wish it was. So, yes, I believe it happened to you. Ideally, people should follow The Golden Rule. That being said, it sounds like you do not want to help this person again. I would give the person a chance to redeem herself by talking to her about it. I would not communicate these feelings in a text or email because I would not want to risk being misunderstood. And if I did not get the response I was looking for, I would not participate in the contest again. Hopefully your friend will see the error of her ways if you choose to address the issue in a similar fashion.
© 2012 Rozanne R. Worrell