Social Media lessons: Addition Elle, “fat” and Facebook

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Social Media lessons: Addition Elle, “fat” and Facebook

social media and free speech

An Alberta woman was fired for a Facebook post to her private page.

Connie Levitsky learned the hard way that you can be fired for what you post to social media.

“I was hired at Addition Elle a week and a half ago, and posted the statement ‘Conquering the world, one well-dressed fat lady at a time,’ under the employment tab on my Facebook profile. I got a phone call from my store manager on Friday, telling me that I had to take the post down, and that my shifts were to be suspended until further notice. I immediately took the post down, and was invited to come back to work, with the impression that the matter had been settled. I worked on Friday and Sunday, and then on Tuesday, the district manager told me I was being fired for embarrassing the company.”

[Sidebar: In their own words, “Addition Elle offers fashionable and trendy plus size women’s clothing, including plus size lingerie, plus size jeans and plus size dresses.”]

Along with former APTN personality, Jodie Callaghan, we spoke with Connie over blab. Over the course of 90 minutes, we covered everything from the body positivity movement to social media policies.

Here are the facts:

  • Connie thought her Facebook page was private when she posted, “Conquering the world, one well-dressed fat lady at a time.”
  • She wasn’t aware if Addition Elle had a social media policy.
  • She wasn’t aware that employers could monitor personal Facebook pages, if they’re public.
  • She did not know that employers could not directly control or indirectly control their employees social media pages. (e.g.: they could not ask her to take down the post.)
  • And finally, if she could do it all over again, she would.

Here are lessons for everyone:

  • Never assume privacy online. Despite the highest security settings, you must always assume that the public will see what you post. I always tell people to “think before they think before they post” &  to be ready to defend their comments publicly. (P.s.: there are always screenshots too!)
  • Employees should be aware that they are responsible for what they post online and it can get them fired. (This area of the law is still grey.)
  • Every employer should have a social media policy and social media training available to employees.
  • Employers should have a social media crisis communication plan in place to manage dialogue online. Connie tweeted that she had lost her job and someone else retweeted it and included a large media outlet. And the story took off from there.
  • Employers should always consult with a lawyer before terminating an employee due to social media. This area of the law is still grey and not cut-and-dry.

Some people didn’t agree that Connie should have been let go. But from a company standpoint, they likely believed that by terminating her employment they were protecting their clientele, as well as their bottom line. Most people don’t realize that companies have some latitude in this area of social media + employment: they can terminate an employee for a social media post with ‘just cause’ if they can prove that a comment has direct impact on their business -> e.g.: harming their reputation and potentially causing economic effect.

Other situations are:

(1) where the comment is disparaging or insolent against the employer or other co-workers; or

(2) where the comment is in violation of a workplace policy that the employee was aware of such as a confidentiality agreement (http://www.macleodlawfirm.ca)

Related Blogs:
How to write a social media guideline that your employees will understand
Social Media Training For Employees
An employee you just terminated posted a scathing video to YouTube, what’s your next step?
Should I be Monitoring My Employees Online Activities
Social Media, Free Speech, Employee and Employer Rights

Not sure where to start? Get in touch! 🙂

Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay is a Marketing Strategist, Writer + Speaker known for her no-nonsense approach to pretty much everything. Using data and insights, she helps organizations market more effectively to get results that matter. She's also a high-scoring instructor at Mount Royal University, where she teaches Social Media Analytics and Google Analytics + Marketing Measurement. She holds certifications from Google, as well as Facebook and is currently working toward a specialization in Marketing Analytics and a certificate in Data Science from IBM. When she’s not busy juggling kids, volunteering + work, she’s busy planning her retirement to Cape Breton.