What is the appropriate discipline for an employees’ violation of a workplace cell-phone usage policy?
If you’re New Jersey teacher Desley Getty, the answer is a reprimand and a $22,000 fine.
Getty, a performing arts teacher at Asbury Park High School, picked an inopportune moment to send out her own greeting from Asbury Park in the form of a four-minute cell phone call to a suspended school superintendent.
According to a news report describing the incident:
Court records show that Getty was covering for another teacher for a 45 minute period Jan. 10, 2008. Students had been assigned a test, but many had apparently finished it during the first part of the 80-minute class. While she was at the desk, Getty placed a cell phone call to the district’s suspended superintendent Antonio Lewis. While she was on the phone, two students danced in front of her desk and between her and the class. Another student played music on his cell phone and recorded the dancing with a digital camera, then posted an almost two minute edited version on YouTube.
The following school day after Getty became aware of the video, she went back into the classroom and began questioning students about who made it, records show. This action reportedly caused significant disruption in the class for about a half-hour, and when the administration learned of the matter, a reprimand was issued.
Like many employers, Asbury Park has a policy restricting staff cell phone usage in the workplace. The policy permits “staff to make personal calls during their free period or lunch break outside the presence of students.” However, “[i]t specifically states that personal calls cannot be made while performing assigned school responsibilities except in emergency situations.”
Although Getty will keep her job, she faces a stiff penalty for her actions. Specifically, she is being reprimanded and will forfeit 120 days’ salary as a penalty for the phone call and its repercussions. The 120 days of salary adds up to a grand total of $22,000 .
According to news reports today, Getty will not appeal the ruling.
The decision not to terminate Getty is understandable, after all, it’s hard to be a saint in high school.