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Paramedic fired for posting unprofessional status about patient

During the rise of Facebook's popularity, many people in Houston heard about the dangers presented by the social networking site. Sure, Facebook was well-intentioned; and most of its users really enjoyed the service it provided, and still do.

But the privacy warnings were there, and many stories came out about police monitoring the profiles of suspects; colleges booting students because of inflammatory comments; and employees losing their jobs because of a status update.

These dangers haven't gone away -- in fact, they may be more prevalent now than ever before. This is especially true in the working world, where states are trying to pass laws that require job interviewees to provide Facebook login information as part of some background check gone haywire.

In addition, it seems that with every passing day, there are more blurbs on news websites about people who post less-than-favorable things on Facebook, only for their employers to later find the offending message. The story rarely ends well for the employee.

People in Texas -- and, really, all around the world -- need to resist the urge to post everything on Facebook. Remember, it is a public forum. No matter how you set up your privacy settings, it is possible that what you post online is seen by people you do not want seeing it.

One woman who worked as a helicopter paramedic learned this the hard way. After she posted on Facebook about an unruly patient on Facebook (claiming she wanted to slap the patient), a compliance officer at her job confronted her about the status. The woman did not back down from her stance and was fired for unprofessional behavior and insubordination. The woman sued her former employer, claiming wrongful termination -- but a Texas appellate court sided with her ex-employers.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Medic Properly Fired for Work Rant on Facebook," David Lee, Oct. 8, 2012

  • To learn more about this topic and other challenges employees face in the workplace, please visit our Houston employment law page.

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