Monday, April 2, 2012

teacher fired for not giving employer Facebook password

Kimberly Hester, a grade school teacher's aide in Michigan, was fired for refusing to hand over her Facebook password to her supervisors. Hester posted a picture of a co-workers' shoes and pants bunched around her ankles on Facebook in April 2011 with the caption, "Thinking of you." She posted the picture in jest, but a parent who's on her Facebook friend list saw the image and reported it to Frank Squires Elementary where Hester was employed, prompting the investigation.

Teachers have gotten in trouble for Facebook status messages before, but in Hester's case, it's her refusal to hand over her password that actually got her fired. One of the supervisors from the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District (ISD), the regional service center for education in Michigan, even wrote her a letter when she refused to give them her password for the third time. Part of the letter read: "... in the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly." Lewis Cass wanted to put Hester on a paid administrative leave before they fired her, but she chose to go on an unpaid leave because she believes she did nothing wrong. She plans to use the letter she received to sue the school district.

An increasing number of companies and schools have started asking employees and
students for their Facebook passwords. The practice has been growing at such an alarming rate, that Facebook released its official stance on the issue, telling its users that they have the right not to comply with their employers' request. Several politicians including Michigan's own State Representatives Aric Nesbitt and Matt Lori have been pushing for bills that will make the breach of privacy an illegal practice. Unfortunately, it hasn't been going very well for them — the House of Representatives recently rejected a legislation that would protect your passwords from employers' prying eye.

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