Facebook indiscretions. Employees continue to make headlines by displaying bad judgment in circumstances ranging from the banal to the deeply disturbed. And employers continue to face difficult choices. Private-sector employers face possible claims under the NLRA. Public-sector employers face possible First Amendment claims.
Some cases, though, present a compelling case for employer action in response to Facebook comments posted during off-duty time. This is one of those case.
Miami-Dade Fire Department Captain Brian Beckmann posted a comment on his Facebook page about the Trayvon Martin case. Beckmann’s post took aim at the prosecutor in the Martin case and claiming that “urban youth” are the products of “failed sh*tbag, ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents.”
A source who viewed the post sent a copy of it to thegrio.com, which broke the story. As you may imagine, many members of the public have raised serious doubts about Beckmann’s fitness for duty as a public servant.
The racist nature of the posts also raises questions about what an employer can and should do when it learns of an employee’s Facebook posts that seem to conflict with the employee’s job duties.