Earlier this past summer a Domino's Pizza in North Carolina fired two employees who had posted videos online of themselves stuffing cheese up their noses, sneezing on the pizza, and passing gas on the salami.
In another case, a Burger King in Xenia, Ohio fired employees who were involved in creating and posting a video on YouTube of a worker bathing in a suds-filled restaurant sink while co-workers watched.
Several weeks ago an employee at a freight-surplus store in Missouri was fired for posting negative things about the company on Facebook. His comments included profanity and derogatory statements about the work and the owners.
A few years ago Delta Airlines fired a flight attendant after she'd posted racy pictures of herself on her "Diary of a Flight Attendant" personal blog.
The above cases represent just a sample of the types of problems that the world of Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube postings are causing for employers. On one hand, there is concern about employee privacy rights and free speech; on the other hand, there is the matter of employers rights to protect the company image.
In a recent survey, 60 percent of business executives interviewed said they believed they had a right to know how employees portray themselves and their organizations in online social networks. Yet the same survey reported that 54 percent of employees said what they post on social networking sites is not their employers business.
In today's technology-oriented environment, companies are more and more taking advantage of social networking tools to check up on applicants and employees. According to one human resources representative, "A person's MySpace or Facebook page can give better insight into a persons character than any résumé or letter of recommendation."
Currently there are no laws that prohibit employers from trolling the Internet for information on their employees. Moreover, in "employment at will" situations-in which employees work without collective bargaining contracts-employers can hire and fire for any reason, provided there is no discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and so on.
Are employers morally justified in using information posted on social networking sites to help make personnel decisions such as hiring, discipline, or discharge? Should they be permitted to monitor what their employees post on social networking sites? Should they be allowed to create and enforce rules that restrict what employees may post on social networking sites? What, if anything, do you recommend should be done regarding these matters? Be specific. Persuasively defend your view by drawing upon what you have studied and learned in this course.