Should Your Life After Hours Impact Your Life’s Working Hours?

If you’ve been with me for a few years, you know I’m in good company on Thursdays. Check out this fantastic group of ladies,  giving insight on various topics.  Click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

This week, Tracey’s topic involves this video/article. It’s a young woman, a doctor, who attacked an Uber driver during her off hours. Her actions were recorded, and posted on social media for all to see. Tracey says: This individual is now on administrative leave until her employer can determine if there are grounds to terminate her. This brings up the question as to whether or not an individual’s job should be in jeopardy because they had a meltdown (or indiscretion) in public, outside of work hours, that was recorded and posted online. Share your thoughts on this matter.

A good friend of mine recently went through a similar experience, although not nearly as extreme. There was no abuse, no physical altercation. She totally kept her hands to herself, but what she didn’t do, was keep her hands off the company’s merchandise.

It was Halloween. She thought it would be fun to borrow an outfit, to use as a costume. She’d asked the person in charge of wardrobe, and he gave her the go-ahead. Even lent her his keys, so she could open the door and help herself. After choosing something with the right fit, she’d locked up, as instructed, returned the keys, and went on her merry way.

Later that night, there were plenty of photos. Lots of social media involved. That tends to happen when most of the population has a Smart phone, and can instantly post anything they’re doing to a number of websites. That’s what happened to my friend. Facebook, Instagram, you name it, she was there, smiling and enjoying her night off with coworkers and friends.

Roughly a week later, she’d been called into Human Resources. Someone had seen the photos, and they weren’t happy about it. One of the many policies created strictly forbid any employee from taking company items off campus. It didn’t matter that she’d returned it, or that she’d completely forgotten ever signing something related to those policies. The photos were out there, living proof that she’d done something against the rules.

She was never written up. HR gave her a tiny slap on the wrist, considering she’d been an employee for years, a good employee, at that. So, it was forgotten, until nearly a month later, when she found out her job was terminated, and again, HR cited the whole costume hoopla, among a few other things that had never been mentioned before. There’s a lot more to this story, too much to go into, but instead of merely borrowing something and returning it unharmed, her former employers listed her as “stealing” something from the company, which is grounds for termination.

Maybe I’m letting my personal feelings get in the way, here, but I don’t feel my friend should have been fired. It’s obvious there was a huge mix-up. What happened to the guy who’d allowed her access to the outfits? What’s his story, and why wasn’t he on the chopping block? The thing is, there’s no way of knowing the what’s and why’s to the situation, only that my friend found herself without a job.

This is a very mild example of the damage social media can cause when dropped into the wrong hands. Every single thing we do online will never go away, no matter how hard you try. You can delete, block, hide, and try to untangle yourself, but there will still be traces of you. It sucks, it’s unfair, but it’s the world we live in.

The only thing you can do is try to eliminate the negative. There’s a reason we’ve seen so many articles related to keeping it together outside the work hours. Potential employers will often look you up online, first, even before considering you as a potential employee. That’s because they feel who you are at all times reflects greatly on who they are looking for, not just the image you present from 9-5.

Should this doctor be on the chopping block? I can’t help but feel that she should. Not only from a civilian standpoint (who would want her as their physician?) but also from a company standpoint. Beating and berating someone reflects poorly on the company she works for. She’s become a serious liability.

Is it fair? Not entirely. She had a bad day, flipped a wig, went nuts that one time. She could be a completely pleasant person most of the time, and a great doctor. The problem is, how do any of us know that, since all we see is the rage inflicted on an Uber driver?

My friend has decided her termination was for the best, in the long run. I know she’s learned an important lesson through all of this, and will be a lot more careful in the future, not only with following policies and procedures, but also in finding a nicer (better) employer to work for. She’s also working on presenting a more business-minded approach to her social media, keeping her personal life separate from her work life. I know she’s going to have even better prospects in the future, and I hope the doctor will also be given a second chance, and can walk away from this scandal a stronger person, and move on with her life.

A side note: I want to add my feelings re: the public’s reaction where this woman and her family are concerned. I don’t think she, her family, or anyone else should be cyber bullied or targeted, or receive death threats. Two wrongs never make a right, and while the woman’s behavior wasn’t ideal, bullying her is just as ugly and reprehensible.

What are your thoughts on this? Should she be fired, or should she be given another chance through her present employer?



2 thoughts on “Should Your Life After Hours Impact Your Life’s Working Hours?”

  1. Great post. Crazy situation with your friend. However, she was taking a risk, knowing that there could be pictures and that they could end up online. Not sure if the punishment fits the crime and maybe it should have been in writing or with a witness when she got the light slap on the wrist the first time around. I’m sure it’s office politics too.
    I agree that the cyberbullying and threats were not necessary.

  2. Excellent post. I believe there is a huge difference between what your friend did and what the doctor did. But you raise another reason to be that much more careful with your social media: things can be twisted and they aren’t always what they seem, even when captured on “film.”

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