Michigan Teacher's Aide Suspended for Refusing Employer's Request for Facebook Access
April 2, 2012 10:09 AM
(Source: Universal Pictures)
A picture posted on Facebook and refusal to access said Facebook has led to a legal battle
A Michigan teacher's aide was put on unpaid leave, then suspended after refusing to give her employer
access to her Facebook page
Kimberly Hester, a teacher's aide at Frank Squires Elementary School in Cassopolis, Michigan, was suspended due to a questionable picture on her Facebook page, which she wouldn't allow her employer to see.
In April 2011, Hester posted a picture of a co-worker that showed nothing but a pair of pants around her ankles and a pair of shoes. There is nothing pornographic in the picture, such as genitalia or inappropriate gestures. A parent, who was friends with Hester on Facebook, told the school about the questionable picture.
Days later, Lewis Cass ISD Superintendent Robert Colby pulled Hester aside into his office and confronted her about the picture. Colby reportedly asked Hester for access to her Facebook page three times, where Hester denied this access each time.
According to Hester, the picture was not taken at work. It was on her and the co-worker's own time, out of school.
Still, Hester was put on unpaid leave. She received a letter from the Lewis Cass ISD Special Education Director saying, "...in the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to your Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly."
The picture in question from Hester's Facebook [Source: wsbt]
While on unpaid leave, Hester collected workman's compensation and was given several directives, which included almost 50 online courses regarding various topics like fire extinguisher safety.
"I stand by it," said Hester. "I did nothing wrong. And I would not, still to this day, let them in my Facebook. And I don't think it's OK for an employer to ask you."
Hester isn't the only one who feels this way. Just last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stepped in when Maryland Department of Corrections Officer Robert Collins complained that his government job had
asked for applicants and employees' Facebook usernames and passwords
. There also complaints from student-athletes at the University of North Carolina, who were forced to add a coach or administrator to their friends lists on their social networks.
Then, late last month, an Indiana high school student was expelled for
posting a tweet on Twitter that contained foul language
. The student said he posted it during non-school hours, but the school, which tracks its students' social networks, said he posted it during the school day.
With so many issues regarding Facebook privacy from employers arising, Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter
introduced an amendment to section H.R. 3309 last week
, which would have allowed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to step in if employers were to ask for online social networking information or access. However, the proposed amendment was shot down quickly.
This doesn't appear to be the end, though. Hester was approached by Republican Michigan lawmaker Matt Lori about her situation, asking if her story could be included in a proposed bill that would make it illegal for employers (or potential employers) to ask for social networking usernames/passwords.
South Bend Tribune
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