Sacked for mentioning job was boring on Facebook...

Sacked for mentioning job was boring on Facebook...

Summary: Kimberley Swann of Clacton on Sea in England was fired from her job at Ivell Marketing and Logistics Limited after she wrote that her job was dull on her Facebook profile."all i do is shred holepunch n scan paper!!!

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Kimberley Swann of Clacton on Sea in England was fired from her job at Ivell Marketing and Logistics Limited after she wrote that her job was dull on her Facebook profile. "all i do is shred holepunch n scan paper!!! omg!'" ... "im so totally bord!!!" 16-year-old Swann said she never mentioned by name the company she was employed by. Her former boss at Ivell Marketing and Statistics, Steve Ivell, claimed the firing was justified as Swann 'publicly' posted comments and shared them with coworkers.

The UK tabloids have had a field day with this story (Murdoch's 'The Sun' headline 'Social not-working'...)  - social networking firings due to employee indiscretions seem to sell papers in the UK, with Virgins' public firings of Facebook using flight crew last year and British Airways more recent termination of staff for calling passengers 'smelly and annoying', also on Facebook.

Kimberley's brief work saga could have been made for the comedy program 'The Office' - Ivell Marketing and Logistics Limited have done a great job of raising their profile in all the wrong ways and hopefully Miss Swann made enough for a few drinks from the tabloids. Essex BBC got a few quotes:

Her mother, Janette, 41, said: "I think she's been treated totally unfairly. She didn't mention the company's name.

"This is a 16-year-old child we're talking about. She says Clacton is boring but we're not going to throw her out of the house for it."

Mr Ivell said: "Ivell Marketing is a small, close-knit family company and it is very important that all the staff work together in harmony.

"Had Miss Swann put up a poster on the staff notice board making the same comments and invited other staff to read it there would have been the same result."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said employers needed "thicker skins" in relation to social networking websites.

She said: "Most employers wouldn't dream of following their staff down the pub to see if they were sounding off about work to their friends."

(The TUC is the Trades Union Congress, a federation representing the majority of United Kingdom unions).

The last comment by Brendan Barber is right on the money from a UK cultural perspective: historically a few pints, cigarettes and grumbles after work in the pub has been a popular way to unwind. Management could set foot in the same bar and eavesdrop, but they are more likely to be in a different one grumbling about their staff as well....

Forging a close knit team has to take into account these cultural safety valves, and this is clearly the way Facebook was being used on this occasion. To be fair to employer Ivell, there may well be more to this than we know. Kimberley may have been a socially corrosive team employee. Nevertheless, this does appear to be yet another fascinating cultural clash of the ages: it would be interesting to know if Ivell, who provide Asian outsourcing services, are using modern collaborative technologies internally.

I'll contact them to find out after al the excitement has died down. I've befriended Kimberley on Facebook also and will get her perspective as well. She's 'gana b on bbc look east 2nyt at 6.30' if you're in the UK and want to tune in...

Topics: Social Enterprise, CXO, IT Employment

About

Oliver Marks leads the Global Digital Enterprise Team at HP, having previously provided seasoned independent consulting guidance to companies on effective planning of business strategy, tactics, technology decisions, roll out and enduring use models that make best use of modern collaborative and social networking tools to achieve their business goals.

These are Oliver's views and not those of his employer HP.

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13 comments
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  • Not a big deal to me....

    The internet is public and when you post on the internet you can expect it to be public. That meaning anyone in the public can see it including your boss or whatnot. If you are really worried about losing your job, just don't post things about it on the web. Talk to your friends or family about it, but not the internet or coworkers, thats just dumb. People just don't think these days and think the internet is their own little space to post whatever they feel like, that just has fail written all over it.
    OhTheHumanity
    • It's still creepy

      The message being sent is plain: make everything look good. Due to the public nature of the world - privacy is becoming a thing of the past because of the internet, CCTV, a 24 news cycle, etc. - things that used to be said privately are now being known publically, and it's become all but impossible to keep a bloody secret.

      So what do we do? Put on our happy face every second of every day because the wrong person could hear? Not ever think of blowing off steam because God forbid someone could see it? No thanks, that's a little too Orwellian to me. I like option B: everyone calming down, toughening up and growing up a bit.

      As long as she wasn't posting company secrets - somehow, a 16 year old complaining that her job is boring doesn't qualify, in my eyes - then it should be no problem. And if he's going to fire her over that? Then it's a blessing in disguise anyway; who would want to work for a person like that?
      superbus
      • Creepy is a good word for it...

        But on the up side, she now has no obligation to the company at all. She's free to say whatever she wants, in whatever forum she wants. They may regret their decision.
        HooNoze
        • Your statement is only partially true.

          [i]She's free to say whatever she wants, in whatever forum she wants.[/i]

          You need to qualify that with "as long is it's the truth." Because if she says anything untrue, and it gets back to the other party or parties, she could find herself being sued for slander, libel, defamation of character, you name it.
          MGP2
      • HUH?

        I find it pretty easy to keep a secret in my world. If I have a secret I would tell those that can keep the secret and the internet is not one of those places. I also don't blow steam at the office either, in my opinion that is stupid. If you have a problem at work you need to talk to your manager about it, not the person in the office next to you. How about your friends or your family? A work place is a very political place and people are out to get one another in some cases, so to me its just a dumb idea to start spouting your problems in the office in the first place, let alone the internet. If she wanted to protect herself she should have used a private account, so in my view it is her fault. Like you said privacy is failing quickly and so people need to be responsible and make sure they keep things private. Where is personal responsibility these days? Its like you put up a big sign up in your front yard, but you expect your neighbors never to see it. Now on the question of her firing that is a different story, but I don't know the previous relationship she had with her employer and so I can't comment on that, but I can say that she used the internet which is totally public so I can't feel too sorry for her. Call me Orwellian, but I know when and where my secrets go and If I was her I would probably laugh it off and forget talking about work on the internet. Its public people, don't expect no one to see it.
        OhTheHumanity
      • Now for the other point of view...

        The employer could be saying, "If she's so unhappy here, what is she doing here?" In today's economy, for every person like her, there are 100 currently unemployed people that would be THRILLED to have a job. They'd come to work AND be happy about having a job. They wouldn't have to fake it.
        MGP2
        • She is 16 years old.

          She did not mention the company. I think that she should report her boss' for stalking her...
          SimonUK
          • Reading someone's public Facebook comments is stalking?

            Well, you read my comments, so I guess I should report YOU for stalking then, right? And you replied as well, so I guess I should also include harassment? C'mon, dude. They were public comments. If you write something about your mom and she punishes you, is that stalking as well?
            MGP2
  • RE: Sacked for mentioning job was boring on Facebook...

    ?all i do is shred holepunch n scan paper!!! omg!?? ? ?im so totally bord!!!?

    ?gana b on bbc look east 2nyt at 6.30?

    I'd fire her because of the atrocious spelling, if anything.
    jklein@...
  • Facebook and Twitter suck...

    I get enough of people looking over my shoulder at work and trying to insert themselves into my daily life without the ever present electronic intrusion of these technologies.

    I am thinking of getting one of those cell phone scramblers or an EMP generator to knock out the other major problem.
    mikifinaz1@...
  • She used restraint enough, not mentioning the company

    She didn't say anything against her co-workers... she didn't exhibit any attitude that was counter-productive... being bored isn't detrimental to others except by a very punitive viewpoint.
    Her boss should have made an effort to instruct her in ways to be more involved or whatever... she's only 16. Her boss is the one who has failed and exhibited improper effort to engage his employees. Shame on him.

    She didn't mention the company. That is restraint enough. Her boss is just foolishly throwing away, and punishing his own employees. Shredding paper all day long IS boring... and accusing her of not being a team player is just thin-skinned B.S. He should have given her more, varied work to do... or at least taught her the value of her work. Instead, apparently he thinks people come cheap. It simply shows that HE is NOT a team player. He couldn't work with her, she hurt his tiny little feelings and he fired her because he's not very good at managing people.
    RpDnn
  • Sounds unfair, but

    its not like it wasnt in writing.

    If she'd been overheard by her boss in the pub saying her job was boring, he'd have a hard time justifying firing her.

    But as the company pointed out, had she posted that on an office board she'd have been fired as well. Much as she would have for having those comments published in a magazine.

    I will point out though, that here in the UK its not as easy to fire someone as it is to hire them - you need a very good reason or you wind up justifying yourself in a discrimination tribunal. You cant just get rid of someone just because they're useless, for example...
    SiO2
  • Assuming the quote taken by Ms. Spelling Bee 2009 is accurate,

    they probably sacked her due to not having basic linguistic skills...

    Granted, as has been said, she didn't point out the company name - that works to her advantage. But if that's her resume, she's not going to get to any jobs better than that of shredding paper. :(
    HypnoToad