Kimberly Hester, a teacher’s aide at a Michigan grade school, was fired for refusing to release her Facebook password when commanded to do so by her supervisors, according to Yahoo News.
The reason that the school wanted to inquire into Hester’s Facebook activity was because she posted a picture of a fellow school employee with her shoes and pants bunched around her ankles back in April 2011 accompanied by the caption, “[T]hinking of you.”
Although she posted the picture as a joke, a parent who is also one her Facebook friends saw the image andreported it to Frank Squires Elementary where Hester was employed.
This is not the first case where a teacher has gotten into trouble for posting inappropriate Facebook messages. However, Hester’s case is not your garden variety Facebook case, as her refusal to give up her password is what actually got her fired.
In fact, a supervisor from the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District (ISD) in Michigan, wrote her a letter after she refused to give ISD her password after they had asked for it 3 times.
The letter stated “… in the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly.”
Although Lewis Cass wanted to place Hester on a paid administrative leave before they fired her, she declined payment because she feels that she did nothing wrong.
As a result, Hester plans on using the letter in a lawsuit against the school district.
As of late schools and companies have increasingly requested employees and students to give up their Facebook passwords. In response, Facebook has issued a public statement, informing its users that they have the right to refuse to comply with with their employers’ request.
Additionally, politicians such as Michigan’s own State Representatives Aric Nesbitt and Matt Lori have pushed for legislation making the requests an illegal breach of one’s privacy rights.
However, the House of Representatives recently denied proposed legislation that would protect Facebook users from their employers.
As you can see this is a contentious issue. Affirmatively posting an inappropriate message and having to pay for it is one thing, especially when you work with kids. But, having to disclose private information to an employer that bears no relation to one’s employment is a completely different story.
Hopefully congress’ attempts to protect us from unwarranted invasions into our private lives are undeterred notwithstanding the recent bill rejection, or, as consolation a court presiding over Hester’s potential lawsuit will recognize the validity of her claims.
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