Natalie Munroe, a high-school English teacher in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was suspended after her personal blog, on which she'd written some not-so-nice comments about her students, came to light in February. According to the Huffington Post, the school district has determined to end the suspension and will reinstate the teacher in time for Fall classes. Interestingly, though, her attorney's comments seem to indicate that Ms. Munroe would prefer to be transferred. I'll leave it to others to speculate about the reasons for that preference, if, in fact, that is the case.
The question for readers, though, is this:
Can you forgive the social-media missteps of your employees? Perhaps more important, is whether social-media mistakes made by employees that negatively impact the employer should be forgiven?
I suggest that, although there's no certain answer to either of these questions, one thing is for sure. Wise employers will use this and other news stories like it as talking points for internal discussions now--before they're faced with similar situations. Discuss how your organization would have handled, for example, a supervisor who posted similar comments about her direct reports on her personal blog. Does your policy cover this situation? Having this discussion can identify holes in your policies and can also help you get a sense of how well your organization understands these issues, as well as the potential reaction it would face internally should it have to make this type of decision in the future.
For more on my take on the Natalie Munroe story, you may be interested in listening to my interview by the NPR Boston program, Here & Now.