In yet another example of an employee fired for materials posted on a social media site, a 22-year-old waitress employed at a pizza restaurant in North Carolina, was abruptly terminated after posting negative comments about one of her customers on Facebook (the customers apparently lingered in the restaurant for hours and left her a meager tip). Surprisingly, the restaurant, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, had the foresight to implement a policy banning workers from speaking disparagingly about customers on social-networking sites.
All of us have observed unhappy restaurant employees complaining about difficult customers to their co-workers — the difference in this case is the size of the audience and the ability of the employer to electronically eavesdrop on its employee. This case highlights important issues for both employees and employers. For employees, it is another example of the importance of considering the potential impact of online posting of seemingly harmless “venting.” For employers, this is a good example of the importance of periodically updating policies that address potential issues that may arise from the current social norms. Although the employer would likely have the right to terminate the employee even if it did not have a policy banning this sort of conduct, it is better for a number of reasons to have a clear and well-defined policy in place prior to taking action against the employee.
As a side note, the restaurant is apparently receiving some negative feedback on Facebook about its decision.