firing someone for racist tweets, my coworker is charging for coffee, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker brought in this own coffee maker and is charging people for coffee

We have a colleague in our office who has bought in his own personal coffee machine from home to use at work to make coffees for himself and other colleagues in the office and is charging them £1:50 per drink! Is he allowed to do this?!

He is, unless the rules of your particular office forbid it.

I don’t really see anything terribly wrong with it (although those coffees sound terribly overpriced); it’s sort of like asking people to pitch in to cover the cost of the candy they keep eating from your candy dish, just a bit more formalized. People are free to decline his pricey coffees and get their own somewhere else.

2. Firing someone for racist tweets

Last week on Twitter there was a myriad of commentary regarding the horrific Charleston shootings, but there was one event in particular I would love for you to weigh in. One person on Twitter (@HyLeyLowly) started spouting racial hatred of minorities about the tragic shooting. People found her place of employer, (@RegalCinemas) and tweeted and DM’d them until they responded and they have let her go from her entry-level position. In your opinion, was it right of the tweeters to make her get fired or was this something you think the employer should have known?

I fully support the right of any employer to fire someone who they learn is spewing offensive racist hatred, particularly in the wake of a horrific racially-motivated tragedy. They’re right not to want to be associated with her, they’re right not to want to ask their other employees to work with her, and they’re right not to want to expose their customers to her.

Speech has consequences, especially hateful speech on a public forum like Twitter.

Now, you might ask whether that means that it’s also okay for an employer to fire someone for other speech they don’t like — such as someone speaking out for marriage equality or school reform or a particular political party. I’m comfortable saying that they’re not the same thing, and that as a society we can recognize racism and bigotry as being different from normal political discourse. People may draw the line in different places, of course, but I think this particular incident was clearly, clearly on the “fire her” side of the line.

3. My coworker insisted that I stop working when I was on jury duty

Recently, I started a new job that I really enjoy! It’s flexible, challenging, and as a general rule I like the people. However, recently I was called for jury duty and I decided I would take my work laptop with me so I could do something productive with all of that time. After about 30 minutes of me doing work and copying my coworker, she emailed me informing that I need to “STOP WORKING IN GENERAL” in all caps, “stop replying to her emails from this morning,” that I can do my work when I’m back in the office and to”enjoy jury duty.” With a big, fat, fake “LOL” at the end.

Now, I told her before hand I would be working from jury duty (she understood) and I told our boss in my interview that I don’t like to be micromanaged, which she appreciated and cited as one reason she wanted to hire me. My coworker goes through stints of micromanagement without rhyme or reason, which I’ve mostly tolerated until this email. Aside from this, my coworker raves about me to our boss saying how great I am. Then out of nowhere, she sends this aggressive email telling me NOT to work? This was an unusually professionally written email as well (we speak very informally over email usually) with an LOL at the end that seemed out of place in a sternly written email.

How should I interpret this and what do I do to prevent this from happening in the future? I want approach her and ask her nicely to stop the micromanaging or give me a legitimate reason for why I can’t do certain things, instead of her demanding things with no reasoning. But I also don’t want to cause awkwardness and make our personal and professional working relationship strained.

Unless there’s more to this than what’s here, I wouldn’t take this as a serious attempt to dictate that need to stop working. I’d take it as a good-natured “hey, we don’t need you to work while you’re away from the office; you shouldn’t feel obligated.” Coworkers send messages like that to each other all the time, and it’s generally not meant as a hard-line dictate.

If you want to keep working, just ignore it or reply back, “ha, it’s actually making the time pass faster so I’m happy to be doing it” or something along those lines.

If I’m wrong and she tells you she’s actually serious about it, just ask why — that’s a perfectly reasonable question in response to a colleague making a weird request of you.

4. My mentor isn’t answering my emails

I worked as an apprentice in HR, during which a mentoring relationship organically developed from a formal arrangement. The guy in question has agreed to carry on being a mentor even though I work at a different organization. I sent an email with some questions, and phoned up after the email a week ago to ask if he’d seen the questions and whether they were worth meeting over. I haven’t heard back from him. Should I try again, wait a bit longer, or abandon the idea of sustaining a mentoring relationship? For further context, I have met with him once already about a fortnight ago.

I’d assume he’s busy right now and let it drop for now. Try again in a month or so — probably not about the same questions (which is likely to induce guilt), but just an invitation to meet with a note about how much you’ve appreciated his time but understand if his schedule makes it prohibitive right now. If you still don’t get a response, I’d assume that mentoring isn’t working for him right now for some reason (other commitments being the most likely, but who knows).

Read an update to this letter

5. Sent home to avoid overtime hours

My fiancé works for a company here in Florida where he is required to be on call for emergencies, which often results in overtime hours and pay. His manager came to him yesterday and said that if they see that he is going to get more than 40 hours in a pay period because of on call work, they will send him home early to avoid the overtime. Is this legal? Seems to me it is more unethical than illegal, but I wanted to check with you first.

Yes, it’s legal — and pretty normal, actually. Employers often take steps to ensure people aren’t working overtime, since they may only have a certain amount of money budgeted for a particular position and need to ensure that they stick to that.

{ 681 comments… read them below }

  1. Daisy*

    In almost every job I have had once you are nearing or at 40 hours you have to leave regardless of what is going on. And if you are the sole person responsible for keeping track of your hours you could get in trouble for not realizing you were close to the limit.

    I’ve had companies that basically had unlimited overtime during a certain period where it was necessary and most cost effective to pay overtime but that was only during special pre-approved periods.

    1. BRR*

      My husband just got a non-exempt job and goes, “Ooh I can make overtime.” It was a teaching moment for me.

    1. Something Professional*

      I thought it was funny too. I can’t decide if this guy is deluded, a genius, or both.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Or just merely trying to keep people from abusing his property and/or generosity. As someone who does not drink coffee, I don’t get it but the quality of coffee is something that many people are passionate to the point of obsessive about. By setting a price, he’s drawing a line between what is communal office property and what is his own. It’s like that letter a while back where the person was talking about how their very expensive tea bags (which they kept on their desk, not in a drawer) were going missing. Many people in an office seem to think that if something is visible, they can help themselves.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      We had a guy used to sell candy bars out of his desk drawer. And bottles of Snapple.

      Now this was way back, way way back, when we were a small and Very Quirky Small Company. I used to call us Barney Miller, THAT quirky (if anybody is old enough to remember Barney Miller).

      Dude (who probably bathed 2x a month, not exaggerating), set up a side business selling food out of his desk drawer. When he ran out of room he set up a display on his credenza. And the Snapple would turn old and have some kind of floaters in it.

      I have to say, I did get excited when he got a bunch of Nerds in.

      And we….. let it go on. Why?

      We were Very Quirky back then. We didn’t intervene on pretty much anything.

      (Finally, somebody broke down and told him he had to bathe because summer months were brutal.)

      1. Sadsack*

        I used to work with a guy who also sold candy and other snacks, including drinks, out of his desk. It was like he had a small convenience store in his cubicle. I don’t recall the prices and it was several years ago that I worked with him, but it was convenient and cheaper than going to the vending machine. I am not aware of anyone having complained about it.

      2. Anna*

        Oh, man, I just had to reply because I only somewhat recently got into watching Barney Miller reruns on TVLand, and I’m loving them! I wish more tv shows were like that, and I *really* wish more police officers were like that!

        Also, I worked with someone that didn’t bath regularly enough, but no one could figure out what to say – I’m very impressed with the person who broke down and said something at your work.

      3. dawbs*

        Mr. Dawbs, as a middle-schooler, set up a business selling blow-pops from his locker-he’d buy stock at Sam’s club and have a line between classes (until the fuzz shut him down).

        The best part of the entire operation? $.25 each, or 3 for $1.00.

        The math, it burns.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha. I remember in grade school, some kids would soak toothpicks in cinnamon oil overnight, and then they would sell “Hot Toothpicks” for $0.25 each at school. They were very coveted; the teachers finally had to put a stop to the hot toothpick-selling, as it became too much of a distraction. Some girls also sold hair barrettes that they had decorated with ribbons, or pony-tail ribbons that they’d crocheted into a long, spiral curl.

          1. LCL*

            I did cinnamon toothpicks! And I left the plastic Orville Redenbacher jar with the toothpicks and the proceeds (about 5 bucks) in my desk at recess, and someone stole it. And the administration didn’t care. My first brush with unfeeling bureaucracy.

          2. AnonaMoose*

            I totally remember those!! I always wondered where the kids were getting them because I really wanted my own stash. Hmm, this makes me want to make some this weekend…

        2. Cleopatra Jones*

          My kiddo had a duck tape pen business in elementary school.
          She would make duck tape flowers in various sizes and tape them on pens & pencils. She would also take custom requests for duck tape wallets. And also a temporary tattoo business to supplement her duck tape business.

          She had a nice little side business going. I had a ‘holy crap, this kid is effing amazing’ moment when she showed me her order forms, price lists, and tallies of what she spent on supplies versus the amount from the items she sold.

          Now she is getting ready to open a store on Etsy for custom art pieces and tie-dye items (and she’s not even in high school).

          1. Anna*

            For some reason this seems pretty cool while selling coffee and snacks out of your desk seems really weird. Like a strange GoFundMe for a vacation to Disneyland or something.

        3. lawsuited*

          I was always selling stuff in school. I sold fudge and cookies in little individual cellophane bags that I wrote “Have a tasty day!” on. I made fridge magnets with people’s favourite Simpsons character/Nsync member on them, bracelets out of coloured electrical wire (and charged more for matching friendship bracelets because multiple strands of the same colour wire was a commodity), I covered my own books and stationary case with picture collages and took taking special orders to do the same for other people.

          It’s really funny to look back and see what kids were willing to spend their money on. But hey, it kept me out of trouble!

        4. Workaholic*

          .25 ea or 3/$1 lol – that’s awesome :)

          I see absolutely no issue charging co-workers for coffee in this situation. Nobody is forcing them. And maybe the person got tired of everybody bumming coffee.

      4. TootsNYC*

        When my kids’ school had a candy-bar fundraiser, I brought a box in and set it on my desk, and put a sign up in the employee kitchenette. I sold 9 boxes!

        And when I was done, one of my colleagues said, “Can’t you just go to Costco or BJ’s and buy a big box, and keep selling it?”

        They were cheaper and faster than buying them from the newsstand in the lobby (the closest source).

        So from then on, I’d just buy, like, 12 boxes and keep it going until they were all gone.
        I used to leave my office unlocked and an envelope in there (a little risky, bcs our walls were glass, and I was right by the employee kitchenette AND the event space. The IT guys up on the upper floor would come at night and buy a candy bar or three. The cleaning crew would buy them. Once there was an event in the evening with outside attendees, and I sold almost a whole box in that one night. (Yes, sold–every dime was there.) I’d empty the envelope of all but a little bit so people could make their own change.
        I ended up with about $7 more than I should have had, by the end of it all, because some people would say, “It’s for a kid’s school–I’ll put in $5 and take 3 candy bars instead of 5.”

        People really did regard it as a service–random employees would say, “Joe told me you had candy bars when I was working late last night–I’m so glad you did! I was starving.”

    3. 266e Source of Uncertainty*

      That seems expensive, but if the person is using a Keurig system in, I assume, the UK? I just peeked at Amazon UK, and k cups appear to be rather more expensive there than in the US. £1.50 is not an unreasonable price.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        My office provides a Keurig, but not k-cups. I bought Starbucks K-cups on sale yesterday at Target and they work out to $0.75/per cup. So it’s not completely unreasonable that this coworker is simply asking people to cover the cost of their k-cup.

        I have worked for a few companies that have a “coffee club” where you pay monthly for the office coffee, but honestly it was such bad coffee, I just brought my little french press in and kept it in my office. My friend works in a place where the company has an honesty jar next to the machine and you are supposed to pay $0.50 every time you grab a cup.

      2. Adam V*

        There’s also cream, sugar, etc. If he’s bringing all that in, no wonder he’s charging 1.50/cup to keep it all stocked.

        1. E.T.*

          Also, don’t forget, are also other costs than just the coffee supplies. For example, there is the cost of wear and tear on the machine (and some machines are Expensive with a capital E). Also, there is the cost of personal time and gas spent to purchase the coffee supplies.

          Of course, you could make the argument that if this coworker was drinking his own coffee, he would have had to buy the equipment and spend time/gas on buying coffee supplies anyway. But by making his coffee accessible to other coworkers, the frequency of equipment/supplies replacement goes up.

          So, I don’t think it is unreasonable for him to charge for coffee at all (and here is where I disagree, I actually think the price he’s charging is not high at all but actually on the moderate to low side). If people are buying his coffee, then it is either cheaper than what is sold in outside coffee shops and/or better than the horrible/non-existent free coffee provided by the office.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      At the job with the Cruella Deville coworker, one guy would collect $2 or $3 from people and then go get ingredients and make chili frito pie or hamburgers for lunch on a griddle set up in the break room. We loved it, because we didn’t have to go get anything. And we all liked chili frito pie. :) No one was obligated to participate, but if you didn’t pay him for the supplies, you didn’t get any.

          1. esra*

            This is like when we cross the border and order breakfast. All the ‘or’s become ‘and’s (bacon and sausage and back bacon). It is a strange, new land.

          2. Pennalynn Lott*

            Served in the bag with Wolf Brand chili, cheddar cheese, and diced onions. If you use any other kind of chili, you can’t call it Frito Pie. It’s like a law or something. At least here in Texas. :-)

            1. the gold digger*

              Of course. The cheese and the onion on top is a given. Without that, it is not Frito pie.

              I made the mistake of trying to get a Frito pie up north where I live.

              Bless their northern hearts. They tried.

      1. Anna*

        This? More awesome/less bizarre than selling snacks out of your desk. Plus chili frito pie.

    5. zora*

      I actually think the person complaining about it is being more petty than the person providing coffee. I drink really good coffee because I love it, and it’s pretty freaking expensive. Usually I just bring and make coffee for myself, but if people wanted to have some of mine, I would definitely charge. Maybe not this much, but maybe $2 per cup? It’s expensive coffee, and if they don’t want to pay, they can get their own.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        I agree. It’s not as though this coworker has set-up a monopoly and is preventing people from bringing their own coffee.

        I willingly share the occasional k-cup with my coworkers, but if someone wanted one every day, I would ask them to contribute to the next box.

      2. Melissa*

        £1.50 is only about $2.40 and when you take into account VAT, and maybe the higher cost of items like k-cups or imported fancy coffee, then it’s really not that expensive.

    6. Chicken*

      I would be thrilled if someone in my office was selling good coffee (with milk available) for $1.50 a cup (though £1.50 works out to a bit more). Right now, my options are 1) terrible coffee with powdered creamer for free or 2) walk to a coffee shop and spend $2-3 for mediocre coffee. Or I suppose I could bring my own coffeepot, coffee, and milk, but that’s not worth it to me for how often I want coffee.

      Someone in my office does actually have a french press and has offered me coffee, but I’d actually prefer it if she was charging for it – if it’s free, I don’t want to take advantage of her generosity too frequently. If she was charging, it’s a win/win and I’d feel comfortable buying some whenever.

  2. fizzchick*

    On #3: Is it possible that the employee is non-exempt, and they’re planning on telling her she has to take the state payment of $10/day for her jury duty service (i.e., they’re giving her leave without pay)? That’s the only reason I can see for explicitly telling her not to work.

      1. Ariadne Oliver*

        But it isn’t her boss who’s telling her not to work – it’s her peer, someone who has no authority over her. The OP definitely has the right to question this bossy person about her order to stop working. Any scolding of this type should come from either the OP’s boss or the HR manager.

        1. Melanie*

          Goodness gracious, it sounds like she’s being playful and the OP is translating it as bossy. The OP mentions that this co-worker says good things about their work habits.

    1. A Dispatcher*

      That was my first thought as well. Though her boss certainly should’ve communicated this to her before she left for jury duty if such was the case.

        1. fizzchick*

          Depends greatly on the state. A quick web search puts current reimbursement rates for states I have lived in from $5-40/day, with the first day not always counting.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yeah, in the county I live in, it’s $5 for the first day and $40 for every day after that. Not much, but it least covers parking costs and lunch.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                That is ridiculous. It’s bad enough that people who need their paycheck have a hardship serving jury duty, but that they have to pay out extra just to be there is ridiculous!

              2. OfficePrincess*

                Jury duty here is $9/day, which, if you time it right and land in the right lot will cover parking.

              3. danr*

                Parking for local or Federal jury duty is free in my area. The big bucks (ha!) only roll in if you’re on a jury and you go past one day. Lunch is provided if you’re deliberating, but on the two juries that I was on, deliberations started after lunch and ended before lunch the next day. Rumor had it that the lunches were very good, but we couldn’t come up with an excuse to stretch things out.

                1. RMRIC0*

                  Clearly you need to watch the seminal work “Jury Duty” starring the comedic genius of Paulie Shore before you next have to serve, then you’ll know all about stretching it out.

          2. Connie-Lynne*

            In Los Angeles a few years ago, it was $28/day after the first day, but you had to go down to a window and do a form to collect it. The parking was free, however, provided you parked in a particular couple of lots and showed your juror badge on the way out — no need to even get a validation stamp! Normally downtown parking was $35/day.

        2. Rebecca*

          Here in PA, it’s a ridiculously low amount of money. I’m not sure of the exact amount; I’d have to ask my coworker who recently got pulled for jury duty. She said that had the court not validated her parking, the parking garage fee would have exceeded her pay for jury duty. Fortunately, our company pays us our full wages for jury duty and if you’re chosen for an actual trial.

          1. Artemesia*

            When I was on jury duty the ‘pay’ for this did not cover the parking and since the courthouse was smack downtown in a city that had terrible public transportation,I had to park in the municipal garage. Luckily I was salaried so I didn’t lose any pay over it and the jury system was flexible that I could re-schedule my stint to a time that was not critical at work.

          2. Cautionary tail*

            In Delaware County, Pennsylvania it was $10 per day but parking cost $8. They also gave a voucher for lunch which bought a sandwich and a drink, no chips. Thi was a few years ago.

            1. Kyrielle*

              I think I have jury duty pay envy! Here, it’s $10/day for the first two days and then $25/day. They’ll cover your public transit IF you can get there on it (lots of us can’t or it would take several hours and you’d be late, which isn’t a good idea). Limited parking, one lot (paid) or meters. They don’t cover that. They don’t cover lunch. (Lots of options within walking distance, but they don’t cover it.) They do reimburse mileage at $.20 a mile…which in my case wouldn’t cover parking.

              If your employer pays you, you have to report that, and you get no jury pay. So you actually pay the parking out of your own pocket! (I don’t really count the lunch, if you’re working you’d have needed to handle lunch if you’d been at the office, too.)

              1. Melissa*

                It’s $40 a day in New York. But you only get it if your employer does not pay you a regular wage, unless your regular daily wage is less than $40. I was in graduate school at the time and on a fellowship – not technically an employee, but still getting paid for the day of jury duty, so I figured that the $40 was not worth the hassle. Plus I was only there for 3 hours – I luckily got called up on Rosh Hashanah, so there were few workers that day.

        3. Retail Lifer*

          I got $10 a day in Ohio. It was explained to us that $5 covered parking and the other $5 covered lunch.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            In Missouri, we get $6.00 a day by law, though individual counties pay more. And 7 cents a mile. It’s ridiculous. That won’t even buy you lunch! My county pays $50/day plus 7 cents/mile, but you get NO pay or mileage reimbursement for first two days of jury service. My company covers it fully up to a couple of weeks. :)

            1. LadyTL*

              In St. Louis ( got a recent summons) it’s 12$/per day unless you get selected and then it goes to 18$/per day and there is free parking at one garage downtown. The jury summons also gets you free metro transit for it.

          1. Betty (the other Betty)*

            Last time I went in for jury duty, I was not picked so I was excused by 11:30 or so. My pay for the morning? I think it was $3.75 (in cash).

          2. the gold digger*

            I think it was $11 a day in Memphis, but my company paid regular pay during jury duty. I think I never bothered cashing the check because I did not want to deal with $44 of self-employment income on my taxes (which I realize now would not have met the threshold) but also because it was not costing me any money to do this and the county was already financially strapped.

        4. esra*

          It’s not much better in Canada. I was up for jury duty (challenged by the prosecutor, he actually laughed while saying it, I am a prosecutor’s nightmare), and the only reason I made it as far as I did was because my employer at the time would still pay me. Otherwise I would’ve had to claim financial hardship.

          1. LadyTL*

            I hate when the lawyers do that. I had one do that to me one summons and he kept mocking me during the selection process. If there wasn’t prejudice before there sure was after that.

            1. esra*

              In his defense, I completely earned it. I wasn’t stupid or anything, I just came off as incredibly naive.

    2. Tattypoo*

      I concur. If she’s expected to take a leave day, or, more often, a sort of jury duty leave day, then her working could pose a problem for both the employer and OP.

      It is fortunate that in most states, it is illegal to fire someone for performing a classic right and obligation of citizenship. If it’s not illegal, employers are shamed if they don’t support jury duty. Thus, many now pay the employee for a day’s work anyway to demonstrate civic commitment. However, I suspect OP’s employer is not one of the latter.

      That said, as noted already, the employee is sometimes stuck with jury duty pay for the day. A financial pinch yes, but worth it because the right to a jury of one’s peers is fundamental.

      The upside? Free downtown parking for the day!

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        No free parking for jurors in my city! They specifically mention the fact on the letter. We do have good public transit to the courthouse, though.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          That is awful! What if you can’t afford it? Does that limit the number of low income people who end up serving?

          1. Natalie*

            As far as I know from my city, not being able to afford the parking, time off from work, or childcare isn’t considered an acceptable reason to be excused. Thankfully we have a neat call-in system, so you at least don’t have to show up every day just to sit around the jury room. When I served I was only at the courthouse for a day and a half.

        2. simonthegrey*

          Mine either, and you have to leave every 1.5 hours to put another couple quarters in the meter – it’s all metered parking and the meters ONLY can be fed for two hours at a time. Not super expensive, but you can’t just get up and walk out to feed a meter during a trial. Luckily I didn’t make it through voir dire. Also the per day is $10.

    3. Raine*

      Yeah, I first off was taken aback by how offended the OP was by the email and think that coworkers could be too by the defensiveness and accusations. And second, even as I was reading the email I was wondering what the heck OP was doing conducting business while on jury duty.

      1. fposte*

        No electronic devices are allowed in our courthouse–yes, no phones either. I did read some print work stuff, but no communicating.

        And I think her co-worker was being facetious, not bossy.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          that, or the coworker either takes jury duty seriously, or was worried about how it would look for her to be working during jury duty. Or was worried that the OP didn’t feel like she could stop working even for jury duty. I have a non-supervisor coworker who micromanages me intermittently and also mother-hens me, and this is something she would do.

          1. Natalie*

            That doesn’t make any sense, though. They don’t let you bring a laptop to voire dire or the trial, so she’s just working while she hangs out in the jury room waiting to be called. Everyone works or reads in there.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              I’m not saying it makes sense–and I’ve very well aware of how jury duty works both as a lawyer and as someone who has been called for jury duty every 2 years for the past 20 years. I’m just saying this person may have felt that way, particularly if they *don’t* know how jury duty works, or if they just worry to much about How Things Look.

              1. Natalie*

                I suppose. I guess I’m just totally perplexed by someone thinking they would let you have your laptop open during the actual trial, but I guess people don’t always think things through.

        2. MegEB*

          I suspect she was being facetious as well. I had dental surgery last year and (obviously) took some time off for it, but decided to check a couple emails one day. I replied to one email from my boss, who promptly responded with “STOP CHECKING YOUR EMAIL AND REST!” I just took it as light-hearted joking and not an actual angry email.

        3. Cassie*

          In Los Angeles, the jury room (where everyone meets for orientation and waits to be assigned a courtroom) has wifi. There’s also a couple of computers that you can use to surf the net. I remember my first time at jury duty (several years ago) – you could not have camera phones (we’re talking motorola flip phones with 0.3MP cameras). Nowadays, they just say that you can’t use the camera capability, and that your phone has to be off or on silent.

        4. RMRIC0*

          Yeah, if you need help interpreting what “LOL” means at the end of a seemingly serious e-mail, you might be a bit obtuse.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yeah, we get full pay for jury duty, but we are considered to be on leave and are not supposed to work. Also, you’re supposed to be fully present at jury duty, not working on something else.

        1. Retail Lifer*

          Yeah, but you spend a lot of time sitting around before you find out if you’ve been chosen and then waiting to get called in to the trial. When I was on jury dury (or I should say WAITING for jury duty), they played movies for us and even had a separate room with computers so people wouldn’t die of boredom.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, that’s true. Our courthouse makes us turn our electronic devices completely OFF past a certain point, so I wouldn’t be able to work if I wanted to. It is very nice of your court to provide entertainment to fill the void.

          2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Yep – in my city, the juror waiting room has wifi and outlets (no movies, though, aside from the “how jury duty works” film).

            In the courtroom you’re supposed to be paying attention to whatever’s going on, even during jury selection, so no working there. Until then, though, or even during breaks if you’re on a jury, no problem.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I think ours you can bring books but no newspapers. It doesn’t say anything about phones or laptops or tablets. I don’t know because I’ve never served here–I got called a week after I started my current job, and I had to excuse myself because I was training.

      3. Merry and Bright*

        I can only speak for UK jury service but you can spend an awful amount of time just sitting and waiting. You can be on standby, on adjournment or just waiting for a delayed sitting while the judge is chairing an emergency hearing. If you are in the jurors’ waiting room you need something to pass the time. I have done jury service twice and seen people working on laptops or studying, as well as reading or watching TV. People also have tablets or e-readers. Obviously you can’t do any of this while actually in court but I can see why the OP might have wanted to work during the downtime.

        1. Retail Lifer*

          It’s exactly the same here. A whole lot of sitting and waiting, usually far more of that than actual time spent in a court room.

      4. Artemesia*

        Jury duty mostly consists of sitting in a large uncomfortable room in rows of chairs waiting to be called. Of course if you are called for a panel then you can’t be hammering away on the computer. I don’t remember if we were allowed to bring devices — I had a book.

      5. Kyrielle*

        Here, we are allowed to bring in computers and they have wifi, and you can work in the selection room. (If you get called up for a trial, even for consideration, you have to shut it down – no such devices in the courtroom. But if you’re just waiting in the selection room to see if you’ll be called, there is _nothing to do_ but whatever you brought with you, and work is a fine option, IMO.)

        1. StarGeezer*

          In our county, it’s no laptops, cell phones, Kindles, iPads, etc.. A business actually set up a “locker truck” outside the courthouse for people to stash their phones in (there’s also a bush by the entrance with over a dozen phones “hidden” in its branches every day). They tell you to bring a book to read, and they mean it.

      6. the gold digger*

        the heck OP was doing conducting business while on jury duty.

        I took my laptop (no internet access, though) to jury duty. Just because I wasn’t at work didn’t mean the work wasn’t there. It was do it then or do it later.

      7. Melissa*

        Jury duty isn’t all actually doing stuff. I served a day of jury duty in New York; it involved sitting around in a huge waiting room for a couple of hours waiting to see if you’d be called up to do anything. They actually encouraged us to bring stuff to occupy our time and there was free Wifi. I brought my laptop and got some work done.

    4. OP #3*

      I said this on another thread but thought it was worth posting here to address directly. I cleared with my employer before hand that I do get paid for the first 3 days of jury duty.

    5. Red Rose*

      My company pays us for jury duty (it is typically not more than a day here) which is good because when I was on jury duty the pay for a day was less than I make in an hour (and I’m not making executive pay). But I had to sign my jury duty payment check over to my company when it came in.

    6. Ad Astra*

      Do a lot of employers not pay their employees when they’re on jury duty? That seems like it would be an incredible hardship for most people.

      1. dawbs*

        Every hourly job I ever had, I begged off jury duty because I’d not have been paid.

        IME, the lower-status/lower-paying the job, the higher the likelihood you’re screwed over and SOL if you get called.

        (now that I’m on salaried jobs where it’d be convenient, I haven’t ever gotten called, of course)

      2. Natalie*

        It is. And in my county, at least, that’s not a valid reason to be excused. (Neither is the cost of child care or transportation.) We have a high jury participation rate, though, so it’s possible the judges here are pretty lax with people. I know my stepmom was able to be excused because she’s self employed and can’t have someone cover her business for 2 weeks.

      3. Lia*

        Mine will pay you IF you turn over your voucher from the court to them. The county here pays $8 a day, which is just about how much parking is near the courthouse. If you want to keep the $8, you have to either take a vacation day or take unpaid leave from work if you have no vacation day.

        Thanks to my prior law enforcement work and legal education, I never get selected. However, I have to show up anyways and wait around half a day for them to say “oh, um, we don’t want Lia!”.

      4. Ineloquent*

        I had a judge write a letter to my boss once because she was giving me so much crap about being selected.

      5. Melissa*

        In many states it’s not required, just encouraged. New York State requires employers to pay their employees their regular daily wage or $40, whichever is less. If the daily wage is less than $40, the state makes up the difference for the first 3 days. I still think that the employer has to pay the fee after 3 days though.

      6. Cassie*

        I remember one case (murder, I think) where the court employees said the trial would take about 10 days and before they even sent jurors to the courtroom, they asked if your employer pays you for jury duty and only sent jurors who do get paid. I guess they didn’t want to make it a financial burden for those who don’t get paid.

    7. Jen*

      Employers have to let employees do jury duty and usually if they have a handbook it will spell out the rules in regards to jury duty and time off, etc. I wonder if the coworker was just trying to be funny in reminding her. I also think that perhaps there has been a little bit of a build up of things that have occurred with this coworker and so the letter writer is probably having a reaction to it that she didn’t expect. It’s hard when you have a coworker who feels the need to try and act like your boss especially when your actual boss seems fine with your performance.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, really. The coworker is not OP’s manager. If she’s BCC’ing the manager on these pronouncements, he obviously knows how she is and has chosen to ignore her shenanigans (or may have said something to her; we don’t know). Anyway, the OP doesn’t have to do what she says.

    8. BTW*

      $10 a day?! That’s just… crazy talk. I’m in Canada, my husband is unionized and they (would) pay him $140 for the first day and I think $120 each day thereafter for jury duty. I know that is not the norm because that’s just the collective agreement they have but if he weren’t unionized and he had to do jury duty we would be a little bit screwed lol! I believe where I am, day 1-10 is no payment, 11-49 is $40/day and 50+ is $100/day. How do people pay their bills when this happens to them?

      1. Natalie*

        The $10 is what the county gives you, not what your employer pays. A lot of private employers here pay full wages for jury duty (less whatever jury pay you received).

      2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        The one time I was called for jury duty, it’s $6 for the first day (to sit around in a room and read a book or play on your phone and see if your number is called to actually participate in voir dire). We have a dismal public transit system for most parts of the city, but if you take the park & ride buses and show them your jury summons you get to ride for free. I don’t remember how much the pay is after that, but I think it’s like $40ish/day after the 1st.

        I wanted to get picked for a jury because I was unemployed at the time and even a little bit of money would have helped, but no dice.

      3. lawsuited*

        BTW is right. In Ontario, the province pays jurors $40 per day for days 11-49 and $100 per day for day 50 and over.

    9. Decimus*

      I was wondering about that myself. When I was called on jury duty the state law said my employer had to keep paying my salary for up to ten days. I suspect the OP#3 is salaried, but I am wondering if the coworker doesn’t realize she’s entitled to her salary and may think she’s “double-billing” by collecting both salary and government money?

    10. Anna*

      I think you have to tell them BEFORE they go because you can actually ask to be removed because it’s a financial hardship. Plus there’s usually paperwork to file on who will pay you; your job or the county/city where you have jury duty. And it would be REALLY skeevy to tell someone they should do the jury duty and then not tell them until after that they aren’t being paid for it.

    11. Vicki*

      But this is her co-worker saying “Don’t Work” not her manager.

      I was wondering if Co-worker has not experienced the “joys” of jury duty and is not aware that much of it involves sitting in a large room wondering if your name will be called before 5pm. Perhaps she thinks the OP is actually working from the jury box in a courtroom?

    12. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Here in Massachusetts the jury duty pay is $50/day. IF and only if you work in Massachusetts.

      If your employer pays you while you’re on JD you can be obligated to pay the $50 stipend back to your company.

      When I was impaneled my employer paid me, but also advised that they did not want the hassle of the $50/day kickback — and I did not collect it. There was a stipend for travel. When gas was $4 gallon, it didn’t cover gas + parking.

      1. Cassie*

        Being a state employee (public university), we’re not allowed to collect the payment. The mileage/reimbursement for public transportation is okay, just not the pay. I didn’t know this back when I was a temp worker though – no one told me!

  3. GH in SoCAl*

    I suspect that if #3’s employer has a policy of paying for jury duty days, the co-worker doesn’t want OP setting a precedent of doing a work from jury duty, because she (the co-worker) prefers to relax and enjoy jury duty as semi-vacation. (In my experience, jury duty has shorter hours than most office jobs, and plenty of time to read or knit while you wait to get called, so if it’s paid for it can really be a break from a hectic job.)

    1. Meg Murry*

      This was my first thought. It could be creating a “but OP got tons done when he was on jury duty, so we’ll plan for you to do XYZ when you are called” expectation.

      My second thought was whether OP is working on anything sensitive and co-worker doesn’t want people to be reading it over OPs shoulder or pulling it off insecure public WiFi if the person isn’t using VPN. We’re doing a sensitive project for a client right now, and the competitor is a very large company who’s headquarters is in our city. We recently all attended an industry meeting, and our boss gave us a gag order speech “don’t talk about Project XYZ, don’t mention Customer’s name at all, and don’t pull up your email on your laptop from the free conference room wifi or where anyone could read it over your shoulder”.

      My third thought was that OP was creating more work for co-worker, in terms of ” hey, can you email me the XYZ spreadsheet off the server and the ABC document and print DEF and give it to Lucinda…” whereby OP is getting a lot done, but by causing co-worker a lot of extra work.

        1. Anna*

          I would disagree in this particular case. The OP says the person doesn’t manage her directly, but oversees their work timelines. I’d say that person has the right to make that call in this case.

          1. A Minion*

            I would think overseeing a timeline would mean having a say in how quickly a project progresses, not having a say in how confidential the information may be or dictating where the OP works, which is the focus of the second paragraph.
            For example the coworker gets to say, “Ok, the timeline for this project is going to be three weeks. Here are our goals for weeks one, two and three. Any questions?”
            Coworker does NOT get to say, “You can’t be working on this project unless you’re sitting at your desk, during a regularly scheduled work day and you’re on a secure connection.” Elizabeth is right; that’s the boss’s call.

            1. Anna*

              I think anyone overseeing any part of a project gets to say if something should be handled over a secure connection or not. In fact, it’s not even up to my manager whether or not that’s the case where I work, it’s all IT.

            2. OP #3*

              The point made here was exactly my thought process. I felt like she doesn’t really have a say in where I work and didn’t understand the logic since she and many other people in my company work from other locations that are public frequently. After some time, I think its a combination of things;

              1. She didn’t want me to worry about work and wanted me to focus on jury duty. (She’s never been to jury duty and maybe didn’t fully understand that I was allowed to have my laptop and I wasn’t breaking any rules in the name of getting things done)

              2. We are both responding to people and it can be difficult to know who’s doing what if we don’t organize our thoughts first

              3. She’s a control freak (she admits to this frequently)

              4. She got a TON of emails over the weekend and my few emails were adding to the problem because I had to copy her. She got frustrated and just wanted me to stop until she had a chance to organize.

              Overall, I think the email WAS stern but not meant to micromanage. Mostly I think she was frustrated and lashing out and realized that she needed to soften up the email with an LOL at the end. I think I took the email unnecessarily personal and since I’m new, I really want to be seen as an invaluable part of my department. It can be difficult to go from a company where you are a “go-to” person in something and the department can suffer when you are out of the office, to the newbie that’s still learning and not a SME. Thank you to everyone who commented on my question.

  4. GH in SoCAl*

    For #4, the “fortnight” since the last meeting stood out to me. I have made myself available for advice to some younger professionals in my field, but I don’t expect to hear from them every two weeks! More like once a quarter, or if they have big news to report or a big decision at hand.

    1. 266e Source of Uncertainty*

      This. I’ve been on both sides of the mentoring thing. I’m sure it varies according to workplace culture, but at my company it’s not supposed to be a buddy-buddy, master/apprentice kind of relationship. In general, mentors will make themselves available in an emergency (“OMG I think I’m going to get fired!”) but usually it’s an occasional hour on a random, quiet Friday afternoon.

      And – I’ve observed that people sometimes agree too quickly to a mentor arrangement. It’s like when Trent Reznor asked Adrian Belew to tour with Nine Inch Nails in 2013: It seemed like a good idea at the time … but a month later, Belew walked away. It happens with mentors and mentees, too.

      Some companies have very formal mentor programs that involve paperwork and so on. But I think it’s rather more difficult to get people to make these kinds of commitments.

      My very best mentors have been people I’ve known for awhile, where there’s a genuine sense of simpatico and trust, where we can speak freely and honestly, and I know they’ll cut straight through any bullshit and tell me what’s really going on.

  5. Jerry Vandesic*

    Re: #2: “Now, you might ask whether that means that it’s also okay for an employer to fire someone for other speech they don’t like — such as someone speaking out for marriage equality …”

    Would it matter whether they were speaking for or against?

    1. Zillah*

      It’s an interesting question, but I think that when we talk about that distinction, there are two things it’s important to keep in mind:

      1) Every viewpoint is not equally prone to hate speech and bigotry. In this example, someone speaking out for marriage equality is far, far less likely to use hateful and bigoted language than someone speaking out against marriage equality. I’m not saying that everyone falls into those categories, but as a general rule, they hold true.

      2) On a certain level, when you’re arguing against affording everyone the same protection under the law – and ultimately, if you’re against marriage equality, that is the end result of the argument you’re making – it’s going to be harder for people on the opposing side to respect your differences than it would be in many other situations.

      None of that is to say that someone should be fired for opposing marriage equality, but I do think those are both important factors to keep in mind.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        I agree. When I have seen people tweet opposing gay marriage I have seen two types of tweets. The first is where their opinion is based on their religious beliefs and the definition of marriage they were raised to believe. They may reference the Bible, generic gender stereotypes or whatever to make their point. The other type uses demeaning slang terms to refer to gay people when voicing their opinion. They sometimes become graphic about what and how they ASSume gay people live their life. They just generally have an opinion formed around hatred and ignorance. If I was a business owner reading the tweets of both types, I would roll my eyes at the first and fire the second one immediately – make the pink slip into an origami airplane and fly that bitch right out the main entrance.

      2. Salyan*

        Regarding point 1, I’d have to say that that statement is not a general rule. Perhaps we are most sensitive to those speaking against our own viewpoints, but I have observed hateful language on both sides of that particular question.

        As to point 2… many people that are, in these terms, ‘against marriage equality’ are so for religious reasons. Is religion no longer a protected point under the law? Should those with religious views be less respected than those without (or with different views)?

        One reason this area creates such concern is that the question of ‘marriage equality’ vs. ‘traditional marriage’ is no longer a matter of live-and-let-live. It has become an area where those that are accused of being prejudiced against an alternate lifestyle are fast becoming the target of prejudice themselves.

        1. Zillah*

          1) I’m really not sure how you can dispute it, tbh. Emotionally charged or even hateful language – maybe, though I think the latter is a stretch. But that’s not the same as hate speech and bigotry. I have virtually never seen advocates of marriage equality refer to people opposed to marriage equality using slurs, describing them as unnatural/unfit to be parents/etc, or linking them with bestiality/adultery/incest/child abuse/etc. I frequently see at least one of that list used in arguments by people opposed to marriage equality. If you can point me toward evidence saying the opposite, I’d love to see it, but barring that, “Those people are jerks” or even personal attacks are not even remotely equivalent.

          2) This is not a debate on marriage equality, and if you’d like to have one, you can go somewhere else to find it. I find your point of view repugnant and disingenuous (that sentence is not hate speech or bigotry, by the way), but I’m just going to repeat what I said before in slightly different words:

          The ultimate conclusion of arguing against marriage equality is that same sex couples are not afforded the same protections under the law as straight couples. That’s not up for debate – it’s a fact. You may think that it’s justified, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Marriage is a legal sense – that is, marriage sanctioned by the government, not an individual religious institution (which is a different matter entirely) – bestows certain rights on people who choose to enter into it. If someone advocates denying that to same sex couples, they by definition are advocating denying equal protection under the law to same sex couples. When that’s the case, it’s harder for people to just “respect each other’s differences,” because what one side is arguing directly impacts the other side in a profoundly negative way.

          1. Zillah*

            And just to make it really, really clear: slurs are not the same thing as personal attacks. There aren’t even really any slurs that I know of for people opposed to marriage equality in the first place. They just… don’t really exist. Personal attacks? Sure. But that’s a very different thing.

            1. Ad Astra*

              There aren’t even really any slurs that I know of for people opposed to marriage equality in the first place.

              Welp, I just found my next research project.

        2. kt (lowercase)*

          Oh my God, “you’re the real bigot because you won’t tolerate my intolerance” is so boring.

          Denying another person’s fundamental humanity (I do not care what the reasons) is fundamentally not the same as calling bigotry bigotry.

          Freedom of religion is protected by the Constitution. This means the government cannot persecute you based on your religion. (Allowing people to marry who they love does not constitute persecution.) This does not mean that all religious views should be equally “respected” by private individuals. The concept of “freedom of religion” has nothing to do with this whatsoever.

          Being “prejudiced” against bigotry is not the same as being prejudiced against other humans because of who they are. You are not a “target of prejudice” because you are no longer allowed to discriminate (in a few very specific ways, and in far from all places) against a long-persecuted minority.

          You could make exactly the same argument in favor of every form of bigotry. This is a red flag that this is a bad argument.

        3. Ad Astra*

          It’s one thing to be against gay marriage for religious reasons. That means you don’t approve, and you probably wouldn’t agree to perform a gay marriage ceremony, and you might choose not to attend a gay marriage ceremony that you’re invited to. And you’re entitled to that opinion.

          It’s a whole different thing to be against marriage equality. That means you think that because you don’t approve of gay marriage, it shouldn’t be legal. Which in turn means you think straight people should have rights that gay people don’t have. That’s both bigoted and unconstitutional.

          Since legalizing gay marriage doesn’t in any way affect your ability to practice your religion, it’s disingenuous to characterize this as an issue of religious freedom. And, frankly, it’s offensive that people who are actively trying to deny their fellow citizens equal rights would see themselves as the victims in this situation.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I do think you have a point that’s worth considering. People who are firing people, or discriminating against or insulting them can be very, very sure that what they are doing is right and justified. So it’s important to look carefully at your own motives and responses to make sure you’re not doing the same thing – and a deep belief that they are wrong and you are right isn’t good enough by itself.

      I would draw a line based on how they were expressing their opinions. Posting objections to gay marriage for reasons I disagree with or find illogical would affect how I personally viewed the person (but not their job security), but if they’re posting statements saying that gay people are evil and need to die that would be a different matter. I would also judge differently based on public vs private statements – Twitter postings are intended to be public and widely read, which is very different from a conversation with a friend that was overheard. Although I wouldn’t be able to ignore private opinions if someone were in a position to act on those prejudices (hiring or managing, for example, or teaching).

      1. Chuchundra*

        What if they posted something about how people who oppose gay marriage are evil and should die?

        I’m curious what anyone hopes to accomplish with this kind of vigilantism. If this person lost their job and couldn’t find another one because of this and eventually had to live on the street, would you feel that that was a good, moral and just outcome? People who post stupid, racist crap on Twitter deserve to be homeless?

        1. Kate M*

          I mean, I don’t think it’s vigilantism. It seems like just usual consequences of hateful speech. Should gay people be forced to work with people who make this speech? Why should someone with this kind of public speech be afforded a job over others looking for work that don’t make things uncomfortable for those they work with?

          Not to mention, LGBTQ people are much more likely to be jobless and homeless because of prejudice than someone who lost their job because of hateful speech. I think you’re really reaching here. What you say publicly has consequences. If you can’t deal with the consequences, don’t say them.

          1. Marcela*

            +1 trillion to “What you say publicly has consequences. If you can’t deal with the consequences, don’t say them.” You’d think adult people know about this, but as the Tim Hunt affair shows, surprisingly, no, many don’t, no matter how “smart” (I use quotes because as a scientist, I don’t think we are smarter than non scientists, not because I think Hunt in particular is not smart) they are.

        2. GOG11*

          I don’t think it’s so much a “deserve” as in there are natural consequences to our actions. Some people, most of whom were probably the ones you gained a bit of notoriety through their comments, may end up homeless. I don’t think that happens in many cases of people posting stupid, racist crap on Twitter.

          As Alison said, employers don’t want to expose the public, other employees, etc. to that kind of environment – whether it is because it is the right thing to do, because they are minimizing risk of legal or financial repercussions, or for some other reason.

          Deserve implies that the firing is a punishment for having racist views. Being fired may function as a punishment, but I don’t think that’s what it’s about.

        3. kt (lowercase)*

          1. Point me to someone who has ever said that. (You can probably find one or two, because people be crazy. I guarantee I can find thousands who have said this about gay people. Furthermore, homophobes are not a long-persecuted minority; they are the persecutors. Nobody has ever died for being a homophobe. Many have died for being gay.)

          2. This is totally fallacious.

        4. Melissa*

          That’s such a stretch.

          It’s like asking if a person who embezzled from a company or shows up late every single day deserves to be homeless. Nobody deserves to be homeless, but they also shouldn’t embezzle or show up late every day – and they realize that if they do those things they run the risk of getting fired and not being able to find another job.

          Likewise, if you want to keep your job, you probably shouldn’t post racist stupid crap on Twitter. These days, if you are using social media you know that it’s publicly accessible, that everyone can see what you post, and that people have gotten fired and blackballed in industries because of their irresponsibility on social media. Nobody’s saying that you can’t have those views – but don’t post about them in a public way that brings bad publicity onto your company.

      2. UKAnon*

        I really like your first paragraph. We’ve just had a huge media spat over some comments by Sir Tim Hunt about women scientists across the UK, and how people on Twitter were thought to eventually get him fired. Your first paragraph sums up the debate quite neatly – and much more politely than some of our media! I would be interested to know where y’all think Sir Tim Hunt’s comments fall on “should he be fired” because I think it’s a much less clear cut example.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Personally (as a female scientist) I don’t think he should be fired.

          I do think he should be removed from responsibility as head of a lab, and any hiring/promotion/tenure committe/defense committee duties, because he has demonstrated such a strong bias against the women who would be working under him, and so clearly regards them as inferior to men in the lab. A lab head has a huge amount of power over the more junior people in the lab – much more than an average boss, in part because the opportunity to quit if you’re unhappy and find a new job in the field is often not there. If the lab head is a major name in the field (like a Nobel laureate), crossing them can blacklist you for life, if they decide to be vindictive.

          Unfortunately, senior scientists who think the way he does are generally a lot quieter about publicizing their opinions – they just discourage their female subordinates, or don’t bother hiring them or taking them on as students in the first place.

          1. UKAnon*

            That’s really interesting. I’d heard another female scientist on radio agreeing with him that these could be problems and we should be looking for solutions not just criticising, but I hadn’t heard of the problems you talk about (IANAS)

            1. Melissa*

              Eh. There is always the chance that a junior female scientist can fall in love with a senior male scientist. It does happen quite often in academia, partially because we spend so much time around each other in the lab. However, the vast majority of female scientist do not fall in love with their male scientist heads, or would even dream of doing so. I was mentored by two male scientists and was not even remotely attracted to them. Moreover, it’s heteronormative – not all female scientists like men, and what about junior male scientists who fall in love with their male mentors (or female mentors)?

              But it’s not nearly as widespread problem in the way that Hunt presents it. It’s certainly not a problem that I think scientists should be knocking their heads together to find a solution about. It’s the kind of complaint that, IMO, deserves criticism more than thoughtful consideration.

              However, the really insidious part is that Hunt implies that if a woman scientist falls in love with her male scientist mentor that she’s not going to be able to work through those feelings, or that she’s going to fall apart when she gets criticized. That’s the part that’s more offensive. Even if you do get a crush on your lab head momentarily, women scientist are adults who can deal with that. And women scientists have had to deal with criticism for ages – often more criticism than equivalent male peers would get, simply because of their gender.

              There’s evidence that Hunt may have been joking about the whole thing, though. See here.

              1. Marcela*

                Joking or not joking, this is about bad judgment. And I honestly think he does not deserve to have any position managing people, research or careers, given his incredible display bad judgment. It’s not only about what he thinks about women in labs. First, he can think whatever he likes as long as he does not use it against groups. Second, maybe he IS the George Clooney of his department and he is so charming that people can’t help to fall in love with him. Third, maybe the Bond paradise he had as a lab was causing him all kind of problems, I do not know.

                But all that doesn’t mean telling what he said in the lunch wasn’t an incredible stupid thing to do. I mean, think about it. Didn’t he know about the problem of women in science? From other interviews we know he did. And he “joked” anyway! What he expected to happen? Nonetheless, my big problem is not the specific lunch comment. It’s the whole sequence of events. At every step he is showing that he doesn’t understand social and professional rules. That is specially bad, since as a scientist, he is used to publicly say things only when he is able to stand behind them.

                Finally, if people are crying in his lab every time he criticize them, it’s not that they are delicate flowers. It’s that he is abusing them. I bet people in the area of Hunt’s research talk about it. Everybody knows the horrible bosses in their city. We used to joke that we needed a site like Glassdoor to write reviews about the horrible PIs, to warn people never to work for the PI that required his people to work 6 days a week, 9 to 7 in the office, the rest of the time from home, no holidays; or the one that never directed or helped his postdocs, and when they applied to a tenure track position, would write horrible “recommendation letters” saying they were lazy or directly not really smart, so there was no point in hiring them, science was not going to gain anything from their tenure; or the one that had to cause too many of his graduate students to commit suicide to get all his responsibilities removed.

          2. hbc*

            I agree that he should not and could not have been left in any kind of management position, though it’s probably the case that there aren’t ways he could effectively continue without having people report to him, officially or unofficially.

            But even if such a position could be found, I think it’s solid grounds for a firing. His solution to him getting the hots for lab chicks isn’t to take control of himself, but giving them “separate but equal” lab space? He may have a Nobel, but that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard, and his lack of judgment in sharing that idea or thinking it’s a funny joke (when women have suffered and continue to suffer from that kind of attitude) shows that his grey matter is on the decline.

          3. Sarahnova*

            I absolutely think he should lose any position of responsibility over other scientists; he demonstrated a clear belief and intention to discriminate by gender, which is illegal in the UK.

            As I understand it, he will still be able to conduct his own research, which I’m OK with, I guess. I have complicated feelings about this.

        2. fposte*

          Wasn’t it only an honorary position rather than him being actual participating faculty? I think you definitely don’t want him as your figurehead, if so.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yeah, I had no problem with him being fired, and I was glad when he resigned (IAMAS). It wasn’t just that he held these beliefs and said them at a social gathering, and it got leaked. He made these comments at an event he’d been invited to speak at, and it was a women’s lunch. A women’s lunch! That shows such a serious lack of judgment that I wouldn’t want him on my team.

            1. fposte*

              A women *journalist’s* lunch. So people who are being insulted and people who report what you say–a great combination.

              That being said, there’s now the subsequent report claiming larger context for these comments too–that he started out talking about himself as a chauvinist, uttering the infamous remarks, and then going on to talk about the achievements of women in science despite people like him. If so, it would still have been a dumbass thing to say–if you start by spitting at people, even in jest, they’re not likely to be able to hear the rest of your point–but it wouldn’t have been the attack on women in science it was reported as being. (Though I still adore #distractinglysexy.)

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Oh, really? I had not heard that. That changes things for me a little bit.

                But yeah, probably should have started with the success of women part. Or, you know, made it a general statement about his sexism or sexism in the field and left those ridiculous statements out of it. Even though we got #distractinglysexy out of it, which was one of twitter’s best moments.

              2. Student*

                I really don’t understand why you feel that mitigates things – as a woman scientist, I find it even more insulting. I’d be interested in hearing more from you to understand what you’re seeing in that.

                For me, it sounds more like “Well, some rats sneaked into my academic field even though I’ve been guarding the gate against them. I suppose those must be persistent rats, to get through all the defenses we’ve put up to keep them out. Persistence can be an admirable quality in a rat, though I still don’t want them in my lab. “

                1. fposte*

                  Again, not swearing to the truth of the report, but here’s what I’m hearing it as:
                  “I’m an old chauvinist [insert lame and demonstrably chauvinist joke to prove his case], and yet despite the likes of me women have accomplished amazing things in the sciences. Like the following…”

                  There’s also some indication that at least one “quote” that got kicked around, about thanking the women for making lunch, didn’t happen. (Takes me back to Dan Quayle and the Latin America legend.)

                  I don’t know this world well enough to unpick the truth of this subsequent reporting, and it doesn’t make what he said great or even okay; it reminds me of when The West Wing would try to do feminism and I’d scream at my TV. But the speech was covered as an anti-woman screed, and it looks to me like it wasn’t; it was actually a combination of goofily self-aware and cringingly un-self-aware about his prejudices and their implications as a preamble to talking about women’s accomplishments. The stupid and sexist part matters, but so does the not-sexist part, and that part seemed to fall out of the story.

                  It’s interesting to look at this alongside the Justine Sacco thing, because I think there’s a similar lesson that people should deeply internalize: outside of conversation with intimates, don’t make a joke that you couldn’t stand behind if you’d meant the words literally.

                2. zora*

                  outside of conversation with intimates, don’t make a joke that you couldn’t stand behind if you’d meant the words literally.

                  yeah, this. Thanks for articulating that. This is what some of my friends call “hipster racism.” Just because you mean it to be sarcastic doesn’t mean you necessarily should say it at all. I’ve fallen into this trap (thankfully not on twitter, just in a private conversation) and have learned that as a white person I just don’t get to make sarcastic jokes about other groups no matter how much I think I am super-conscious. It is hurtful for people to hear certain words coming from me, even if they know I’m technically kidding.

          2. Cath in Canada*

            Yes, he lost his honorary (no salary, no lab space) position, but still has his main one. He also had to leave various committees and funding decision-making positions, which I’m fine with tbh.

            1. Cath in Canada*

              Oh and the event in Korea wasn’t the first time he commented about women in science. From 2014:

              “One should start asking why women being under-represented in senior positions is such a big problem. Is this actually a bad thing? It is not immediately obvious for me… is this bad for women? Or bad for science? Or bad for society? I don’t know, it clearly upsets people a lot.”

        3. Cambridge Comma*

          What most commenters on the issue in the media don’t realise is that he (voluntarily) closed his lab in 2010 owing to his age. He has not lost an active research position. Nobody is being prevented from sciencing. As fposte mentions below, he was a only a figurehead, and a bad one if he didn’t know better than to make such jokes in front of a room of journalists covering the topic of women in science.

        4. Ad Astra*

          If I were running a lab, I’d fire him because I don’t want people like that working for me. But, given that he’s a Nobel laureate and his work is presumably Very Important, that might not be a decision I could make without backlash. I do like AcademiaNut’s more nuanced answer.

        5. Marcela*

          I do think he should be fired. When my husband and I read his comments for the first time, the first thing we thought was “ah, when he says he falls in love with women in his lab, surely he is one of those bosses who chases them, even when they do not want it”. We have known principal researchers with crazy tendencies and literally unlimited power. There was a famous one, who was “reduced” to an honorary position, after too many of his graduate students committed suicide. WTH?! He was a super famous professor, top on his field, in one of the top 3 universities in the world. We have met many crazy others, mostly old guys used to be the most knowledgeable person in the room, so they could not think of their opinions to be wrong.

          Besides, now not only I don’t trust his judgment, saying something as stupid as that in a public forum of journalists. The whole sequence of events shows him as somebody who don’t understand we are responsible for our words once they leave our mouth. Even worst, not onyl he could not even accept it was horrible for other people what he said, but then he apologized using the no apology “I’m sorry that you got offended”. And even afterwards, he is complaining nobody gave him the opportunity to explain. Explain what? The mysterious process where he thought he could say whatever he wanted in the real world, as he has undoubtedly being doing in academia for years and years? He said those things in the first place. Nobody forced him to open his big mouth. At this point I wonder if he is an adult or a toddler. That is not somebody I want to have any responsibilities in an academic environment, nor receive salaries when a postdoc is earning a misery while working 24/7.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, yeah, the subsequent stuff was a train wreck. The man just shouldn’t be allowed to talk outside of a vetted script.

      3. Student*

        What if the boss is a member of the targeted group? Now you’ve got insubordination. Maybe members of the executive office or governing board are members of the targeted group. Do you think they want to keep an employee around who publicly states someone in management is inferior for being part of a minority group?

        What if a more-valuable co-worker (or really, any co-worker) is a member of the targeted group? Now your boss is deciding whether the bigoted tweeter is worth keeping around and potentially scaring off / burning out /angering the targeted group members.

        What if some of your customers are members of the targeted group? That’s basically the case for the example here – an employee insulted members of a minority group off-hours. Those minority group members then complained to her boss about it. The manager decided that the comfort of customers was more important than publicly defending a bigoted minimum-wage employee.

        This isn’t just random target-less hatred on the internet. This is hatred towards real people – towards people that the speaker works with, lives near, works for, and provides services for. I find it absurd to expect those people to just accept the vitriol and continue business as usual. They have every right to refuse to do business with people who say vile things about them. The employee still has the right to say it without getting arrested – but the employee does NOT have the right to say it without any consequence from the people who’ve been insulted.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Not to mention that if the tweeter becomes publicly associated with the company and is still working there, his/her views could discourage talented people from applying because they don’t want to work with a coworker like that or for a company that would tolerate it. And the talented non-hater employees won’t want to work there either.

      4. Observer*

        I think the who and the how are important.

        Someone espouses killing all xxx – I think that’s a legitimate reason for firing.

        Someone thinks “all xxx need to die” – depends on context (ie “and therefore we should have xxx hunts” or “please god that will happen soon:) and WHO is saying this. If it’s the janitor saying this and he’s leaving it to god, I really don’t think it’s a big deal. Not that it’s an appropriate thing to say, but people say LOTS of crazy stuff.

        On the other hand, if it’s a first / emergency responder, or a law enforcement official, that’s it. Out the door. For anyone who has any doubt of the problem, I suggest you look for the video of the police chief who ordered his force to NOT help a black family in trouble on the road.

        Something like opposing marriage equality is a whole different kettle of fish. Yes, some people who hold that viewpoint are jerks who will say the most hateful things. If they do that, then that needs to be dealt with, of course (even if it’s not illegal). But, that’s so far from universal that using this kind of viewpoint as a proxy in issues of hiring and firing etc. is neither smart nor fair.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          Earlier this year, a man shot 3 of his neighbors, presumably over a parking spot. The three victims were Muslims, and I still remember the debate it sparked and reading some sickening comments. Around the same time, there was a fire in a mosque…..the worst thing I ever read was a volunteer firefighter saying he would refuse to save anyone in the fire. This sickened me, and I would fully support him being fired or any other sort of backlash.

          I could say a lot more, but I don’t want to derail or go off on a tangent, but reading comments “please God kill all Muslims”…..ugh.

          1. Observer*

            I’m not defending such comments. But, if it comes from someone who is not in a position to make a real difference to all Muslims (or whatever group), it’s deeply offensive, but that’s about it (in a work context, assuming it’s out of work.)

            But when you have a firefighter saying that, that’s very different a HUGE problem. Even if he doesn’t go any further. And to actually say that he would refuse to save anyone in the mosque fire? That crosses some pretty major red lines. And, yes, I agree that his boss (on his non-firefighting job) wold be right to fire him.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      “As a society we can recognize racism and bigotry as being different from normal political discourse”

      It’s not about speaking for or against something or having a point of view that is different to other people, there are many reasonable points of view on gay marriage (and many other contentious subjects) some that support it and some that oppose it and that’s not the issue, it’s about expressing those differences of opinion in a non offensive manner and not belittling or marginalising entire classes of people.

      1. ITPuffNStuff*

        i would add that, unfortunately, sometimes the emotionally-charged nature of these discussions is such that it’s impossible to offer *any* criticism of a position on any grounds without being labeled a bigot and attacked. in those cases, i just try to remember the person isn’t attacking me so much as their imagined version of me, and acting in response to their own fears, not to my words. and then i let it drop, because honestly, life is too short to get sucked into arguments.

        1. kt (lowercase)*

          Oh, give me a break. If you say things that are bigoted, don’t be shocked when people call you a bigot. If you’re so sure that that’s not who you are, maybe you should try to figure out how to express yourself in a way that doesn’t create the misapprehension that you are a bigot.

        2. ITPuffNStuff*

          thanks to kt for proving my point?

          please point out which statement in my post above is bigoted.

          1. aebhel*

            Nothing you said in that statement was bigoted, but if you’re finding that people are calling you a bigot on a regular basis, you might want to consider what you’re saying that comes across that way instead of dismissing them as attacking ‘an imaginary version of you.’

            1. ITPuffNStuff*

              hello aebhel, thank you for responding!

              usually what happens is i express my opinion that everyone, including bigots, have a right to peacefully express themselves. fortunately, most reasonable people understand the difference between defending a bigot’s right to self-express, and defending bigotry itself. unfortunately, in any large group, there’s always one person who doesn’t make that distinction. there’s always one who struggles with the idea that defending a person’s right to express does not mean i agree with or support the actual positions they are expressing.

              so i’m curious, how would you word that so that the meaning is clear? i support every person’s right to peacefully self-express, even if those expressions are inflammatory. i don’t support the inflammatory positions themselves. i don’t believe anyone’s choice of expression should be without consequence, but i do believe those consequences should not include violence or a denial of basic civil or human rights.

              all of the above feels pretty explicit and clear to me, but i’ll gratefully accept any advice about how that can be reworded to avoid reinforcing this presumption that i support bigotry.

              “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” (Thomas Paine)

      2. A Definite Beta Guy*

        it’s about expressing those differences of opinion in a non offensive manner and not belittling or marginalising entire classes of people.

        But as the commenters below state, being against gay marriage is automatically marginalizing to gay people, so I can fire you regardless of what your argument is.

        There really isn’t a clear line here.

        1. aebhel*

          IDK, as someone who is bi, I think that ‘I am personally opposed to homosexuality because I think it is a sin and I don’t think gay marriage should be legal’ is different from ‘gays are perverts who will burn in hell’.

          I mean, I think both of those people are homophobes and I wouldn’t want to spend time with either of them, but one of those things is hate speech and one is not.

    4. BRR*

      As a gay person I don’t consider marriage equality political discourse and I resent it being lumped into the same category as school reform. It’s not something that I consider debatable and consider it far more similar to racist comments than political discussion.

      So it shouldn’t matter if the message is “for,” is what I’m saying.

      1. Felicia*

        As another gay person, I agree. I don’t consider “some people don’t deserve the same rights as other people” somethiing i can accept a difference of opinion on. Luckily I live in a country that mostly agrees with me at a federal law level.

        1. ITPuffNStuff*

          what’s confusing to me about this is how did it even become illegal in the first place?

          i mean — why did laws ever exist telling people who they can or cannot marry? i’m bewildered by what the government’s interest in that would even be.

          put differently, gay marriage would never have been a legal issue if the government had kept their noses out of the subject of marriage — gay or otherwise — to begin with.

          1. Anna*

            This has been an argument put out for a long time now. The problem is that their weirdly and inextricably linked because nobody ever considered it would become a political hot button issue. My husband has long argued that all unions should be viewed as civil by the government and let marriage be what it is to whomever wants it to be that.

        1. Observer*

          Yes. But the question at hand is what happens when people say these things OUT of work.

      2. LBK*

        I agree personally, but unfortunately I don’t think that lines up with where we are culturally. As long as we have viable presidential candidates running on a platform that includes opposition to marriage equality, it seems pretty clear that the general population still considers this a topic that’s up for debate.

        1. Felicia*

          In my country (Canada) gay marriage is not up for debate on a political level for Prime Ministers or just in general for the most part , and since it’s been legal at a federal level for 10 years people don’t really debate it like that anymore. So I guess I come from a culture where it’s not up for debate in the same way denying rights based on race is not up for debate, which I think is as at should be.

        2. ITPuffNStuff*

          taking the talking point off the debate table would not benefit gays living in the 12 states where it’s still illegal, because the absence of a debate would mean the absence of change … in other words it would remain illegal.

      3. Ad Astra*

        I’ve always been troubled by things like gay marriage and whether you should vaccinate your children characterized as a “debate,” as if both sides are equally valid.

        Should we increase the tax on cigarettes? Should recreational marijuana be legal? What’s the best way to run our schools? How can we prevent gun violence? These are all up for discussion. “Should all citizens have equal rights under the Constitution?” and “Do vaccines cause Autism?” are not matters of opinion.

        1. Zillah*

          I’ve always been troubled by things like gay marriage and whether you should vaccinate your children characterized as a “debate,” as if both sides are equally valid.

          +1 billion

      4. Anonicorn*

        As not a gay person, I completely agree. Being against marriage equality is the same sort of bigotry as racism.

      5. lawsuited*

        Agreed. In Canada, sexual orientation is a protected class, so I think that puts commentary about marriage equality into a different category from comments about school reform or cap-and-trade or NASA research funding.

      6. Tinker*

        My New Year’s resolution for this year, which I’ve kind of unevenly held to, has been to not engage in the sort of discussions that amount to “Let’s have a pseudo-academic discussion about whether I should be respected as a peer of all other adult humans or whether I should have to appeal to others for consideration that most other people would be substantially offended by having questioned.” So, like, in theory I accept as much questioning of my gender or of me based on my gender as a cis guy, I treat my sexual orientation as matter-of-factly as a straight person treats theirs, et cetera. In practice I sometimes slip, but I’ve found that the principle is sound.

        The marriage equality thing I see as more of a second-order effect of the above — it’s mostly aimed at things like telling me that I’m “confused” about who I’m attracted to or giving me crap about my gender presentation, rather than the public policy position that follows from directly treating me as a full citizen — but in practical terms most debates of that subject come about in the first place because that lack of respect is somewhere involved.

        1. Gooseberry Yogurt*

          “Let’s have a pseudo-academic discussion about whether I should be respected as a peer of all other adult humans or whether I should have to appeal to others for consideration that most other people would be substantially offended by having questioned.”

          This x 1000. There is no “respectful” or “reasonable” discussion to be had about whether or not I deserve the same rights and recognition as straight people, in the eyes of the government.

        2. Ad Astra*

          This reminds me of the “I don’t believe Bruce Jenner changed his gender because it’s against my religion and I don’t appreciate being forced to believe this is how the world works” post from a while ago.

          This is how the world works. Your (general you) approval is not necessary, and your disapproval or disbelief don’t make something not real. Nobody’s humanity should ever be up for debate.

          1. Advocate*

            By that logic, we should accept that Rachel Dolezal is black because she feels that’s true, which maybe that’s where society’s going.

            1. aebhel*

              Gender and race don’t work the same way. They’re both largely social constructs, but that’s where the similarity ends (also, Dolezal has been perfectly happy to ID as white when it benefited her).

          2. ITPuffNStuff*

            it’s probably not possible to force anyone to believe anything. it may be possible to move from a place of confusion/doubt/questioning to a place of understanding, but that requires the person to want to understand. and it requires a patient person willing to set aside any value judgements and act as a teacher.

      7. Bwmn*

        I agree about your thoughts on being against gay marriage.

        However after certain recent Supreme Court decisions, if a colleague/employee was tweeting strong disagreement with the decision and support for the dissenting opinion – while it may ultimately be a bigoted opinion – I think then the subject of whether or not it’s a fireable offense becomes more murky. Similarly with the recent Confederate flag issue. If someone wants to say up and down that to them the flag is “heritage not hate” and the like – on a twitter account (and their job is not something largely publically facing or an organization/ngo with a certain mission)….I’d find it similarly more uncomfortable to warrant firing.

        I personally don’t think that there are “two sides” to either debate, but I do there are ways to express those opinions that are different from bigoted/hate speech. Even if ultimately the issues don’t exactly warrant a “two sides to every coin” discussion.

        1. Ad Astra*

          This is a reasonable point. If you tweet about how the Confederate flag is about Southern pride and not racism, I’m going to think you’re an idiot and probably a racist, but I’m not going to interpret that statement as hate speech. Whether your employer would be upset about you voicing that opinion will depend greatly on the business itself and the culture of its customers.

          1. voyager1*

            I find the idea of stalkin down who someone is on Twitter a little disturbing. I find the idea of hunting down where someone works for to be disturbing. I find the idea of going to the employer of someone and trying to get them fired disturbing… And this was all done by people over something done on the Internet. So glad I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter.

            As for the biggoted comments, well….. so the person is a biggot.
            I just ignore them, their kind is shrinking more everyday. But I understand some just can’t sit on their hands when it comes to social media.

            But the Twitter witchhunt… can’t support that, no matter how ignorant the person is.

            1. Natalie*

              No one was stalked or hunted down. The person in question freely shared their identify and employer information.

              I don’t actually accept that “their kind” is shrinking (research suggests racism is actually on the rise among under-30s). But if it is, it didn’t change by magic. Political and social activism, including social pressure, shifted what society deems acceptable to say and think.

              1. Advocate*

                Did they, or were they doxxed? People can find out who you are on the internet even if you think you’re acting behind a pseudonym.

                If they said what they said under their real name, then I have no problem with people bringing to their employer’s attention. If they were doxxed, then I have a huge problem.

      8. AGirlCalledFriday*

        This was my immediate reaction as well. Being against marriage equality is a human rights violation, and should be classified unAmerican as it denies certain people the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. You can talk about school reform using stats, you can talk about political parties based upon numerous evidence of things that have been factually documented, but when you come to an opinion that negatively impacts and denies the rights of millions based upon a couple sentences of Jewish Law when Christianity (the majority of Americans) does not expressly forbid same-sex relations, but judging and persecuting others, discriminating against others, certainly IS forbidden.

        Therefore if I was managing someone who actually EXPRESSED these views, I’d be concerned with their ability to actually gather information and do fact checking before making statements publicly, I’d be concerned with how that person would treat others in the workplace, and finally – if the person was fundamentally following Old Testament practices – the only way an employee could cite ‘religious reasons’ to me – it would introduce a whole slew of issues, being that someone following these practices would also be expected to believe in polygamy, murder of women who engage in premarital sex, discrimination of those who have tattoos, eat pork, or even seed different types of grass in their lawn.

        1. AGirlCalledFriday*

          Ack – that first paragraph doesn’t make sense, but I think everyone knows what I mean. I studied biblical history, and when people don’t even bother to read the text, research it, or seek to understand the cultural motivations of the people who lived through that time…and then use it to disempower and deny others, it really makes me upset. Anyone who has ever studied biblical history knows that it’s been altered through the years – passages added and erased throughout history, in order to better reach the audience of the time (remember, it was a teaching tool). This aside from the various mistranslations and errors. It’s a beautiful text, but most who study it professional know it’s not something to take absolutely literally.

        2. ITPuffNStuff*

          one could argue that the heart of democracy is disagreement — and the respect for a person’s right to disagree, even if their particular opinion is inflammatory.

          if you’re interested, the ACLU did (what i feel) is a pretty good short write-up on this very topic. they explained why they don’t feel it’s incongruous to defend the civil liberties of both the NAACP and the KKK. they expressed their points much better than i could, but the short version is “i defend your right to disagree with me (and peacefully express that disagreement), even if i find your position contemptible”.

          here’s the link to the whole thing if you are interested:

  6. Waffles*

    I’ve totally sent OMG WHY ARE YOU EMAILING ME YOU SHOULD BE DRINKING OUT OF A COCONUT emails to people on vacation when I’m wearing my project manager hat, but that colleague is failing at 1) reminding you that you deserve a break and 2) communicating an actual workplace policy.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      My old boss had a terrible habit of always being on-line or sending the team emails when he was on holiday. We used to either relentlessly mock or ignore him until he went and enjoyed his holiday.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        We do this, too. People have given up on me, but I sent an all caps email just last week:


        to someone who was working past 5 on a new job, one of those jobs where the flow in is endless so if you try to get it all done before you leave (as she could in her previous position here), you’ll never leave.

        1. Sarahnova*

          Ha, yes, me too. My boss and I totally have the kind of relationship where, if he responds to an email or gets on Lync when he’s supposed to be on holiday, I will send him a “TURN THE G-D COMPUTER OFF GO GET A DRINK TELL [wife] FROM ME TO TALK SOME SENSE INTO YOU” message

        2. Blue Anne*

          When we were firing emails back and forth during projects, my favorite client ever used to tell me at 3PM on Friday that it was beer o’clock, he was going to the pub, and I should too.

          Love that guy.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            In these contexts, it’s a compliment to/camaraderie with someone’s work ethic to, humorously, suggest boundaries.

            I think that’s why the ALL CAPS HAPPENS because that puts the tongue in the cheek while encouraging the other party to recreate.

            Or, calling it beer o’clock. You can do that in upper/lower.

        3. Kyrielle*

          Haha yes! If I didn’t leave before the work was done, I’d have been in the hospital long since, because in a literal sense the work is never done.

    2. Jenn*

      On my team, we paste the dictionary entries for “stop” and “vacation” into emails when we get them from someone supposed to be on vacation. I have the most amazing manager ever, who makes you take all of your vacation and expects you to actually be on vacation.

    3. Graciosa*

      I have also sent these emails to colleagues, but one of the differences was that the recipients did not interpret them as an attempt to micromanage.

      I think the OP misread the cues here.

  7. The IT Manager*

    #2 bothers me because it sounds like some people didn’t like what someone said on social media, tracked down her employer (because she wasn’t associated with the employer or representing them on the account) and informed them about what she said. In case as far as we know she never did any thing that outed her opinions at her job. In this case it was racist venom, but in other situations its people with alternative lifestyles or opinions. People who have made dumb mistakes have been publicly shamed and fired for those dumb mistakes. I am not saying being racist is mistake. I’m saying if it’s acceptable to tattle (that’s what this feels like to me) to employers about racist tweets, it’s also okay to tattle to employers about people who are gay, trans, or espouse political or religious beliefs that you disagree with and hope to get them fired for.

    It feels like tattling because this wasn’t done at work or in the name of the employer. Somebody said “how can we get her in trouble?” and then said “maybe we can get her fired if we tell her bosses.” This seems to be a classic MYOB situation. Attack her position and her on the Internet, but don’t get her work involved if it wasn’t before.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      Sorry but contacting an employer because their employee is gay or transgender or extremely to the left/right is NOT in the same ballpark as contacting an employer because their employee is racist spewing racist stuff online. Sure, some people do lost their jobs for being gay or transgendered or having a specific political point of view but I have never seen someone be motivated on social media to contact an employer because of one of these. If there is one thing the news is reminding us daily, it is that this country is plagued by racism and the effect of this is playing out daily and it isn’t pretty. I do not believe that informing an employer that one of their employees is a racist and providing the proof is tattling, especially when many company’s have specific statements about equal opportunity and anti-discrimination in their mission statements and profiles.

      1. Chuchundra*

        So..just racism, then? If someone is being racist, we can DOX them and report their transgressions to their employer, otherwise no. Is that the deal?

        How racist are we talking here? Any racism at all? Does it have to pass some kind of threshold or objective test or is it an “I know it when I see it” kind of thing? Who is going to decide? Will there be a vote?

        But wait, last week we were ready to report a co-worker to HR for a transphobic comment. So transphobia too, right? And if transphobia is in, then we have to do the same for homophobia. And really, if we’re including racism, we should include antisemitism. And if antisemitism is in, we have to include islamaphobia. How about anti-Catholic and anti-christian bigotry? The list is pretty long already and we’re not even really getting started yet.

        I wish I could get people to see how much of a bad idea this all is. It leads to some very bad places and if you don’t think that you or people who believe things that you believe can and will get caught in similar twitterstorms and internet outrages, you are sadly sadly mistaken.

        It’s not right and it’s not justice. It’s not making the world a better place. It’s random punishment for punishment’s sake.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          DOXing people is entirely, 100% different, from reporting something said, in the workplace, to HR. You (I believe) destroy your case by connecting the two.

          I’ll, mostly, stand behind anti-DOXing, as long as the person being DOXd doesn’t present a threat to other people.

          That’s nothing related to letting an employer know about something that is going on in the workplace, something the employer is entitled to know.

          1. Observer*

            The thing is that the cases under discussion are NOT about what people sad AT work, but on their own time.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              Right, that’s my point. Connecting the wildly different doesn’t make sense.

          2. ITPuffNStuff*

            it seems to me Chuchundra’s point was that if it’s okay to report people to their employers for racism, it must also be okay to report them for a myriad of other things, which becomes a rapidly-expanding scope that ultimately includes “any opinion that anyone anywhere disagrees with”, ultimately scooping up every employed person on earth, and subjecting all of us to termination for our opinions.

        2. Helka*

          It’s not making the world a better place. It’s random punishment for punishment’s sake.

          How is it random? “Person said hateful things about $Minority” is a common thread to all the possibilities you mentioned. Maybe, and I know this is really difficult for some people, maybe try to keep from spewing hatred at people who are already dealing with far more than their fair share of societal challenges.

        3. moss*

          Your slippery slope argument is… weird. I think people should not be bigots, or if they are, it should be in the privacy of their own backyard. So yes, I think the Anti-Defamation League would agree with me that militant anti-Semitism should be addressed by a person’s employer, especially in a front-line retail-type environment like a movie theatre.

          Clutching the pearls and crying “Where will it all end???” while giving examples of pretty horrible things (Islamaphobia is growing and deadly here in the USA) doesn’t really make sense.

          Also remember the First Amendment protects people from the *government*. Capitalism (private business) is perfectly happy with stomping out speech it finds ugly.

        4. Hotstreak*

          I tend to agree with Chuchundra on this. If you disagree with someone’s idea, attack that idea. Don’t go after their source of income or otherwise sabotage their life as a way of punishing them, it’s petty and gross. Can you imagine someone going to a bar, overhearing a hateful comment, then following them home, to work the next day, and reporting it to their boss? Yuck! Say something to them directly or MYOB. If a company wants to police their employees outside of work activities, they should create policies that directly spell out what is/is not acceptable to say or talk about and employ people to enforce those policies, not make employment decisions based on mob rule.

          1. Zillah*

            Say something to them directly or MYOB.

            I do get what you’re saying, but I think that this part of your comment is completely discounting the fact that it’s frequently not safe to say something to them directly. For example, a man who’s saying derogatory things about women in a bar is almost certainly not someone I’m going to approach, because I would be concerned about violence, particularly if they were not alone.

            1. Hotstreak*

              Absolutely it may not be safe to approach a stranger in a bar. That comment was intended to show how strange and inappropriate, and vindictive it is to track down someone’s employer and complain to them about comments they made. On Twitter, it is much safer and (relatively) anonymous to communicate with the person directly, so it seems even more strange, inappropriate, and vindictive to attack them through their employer.

            2. Sparky*

              And the power balances almost always skews this way; whomever is slurring whichever group is probably speaking from a position of privilege and safety. I don’t see that my two options are say nothing or confront them in person.

              1. Advocate*

                That’s not true on Twitter. Power rests in people who have followers. So, the person who has 10,000 followers (regardless of race/gender) has more power on Twitter than the person who has 10 followers (regardless of race/gender).

                The fact that Internet can upend traditional privileged structures is something that needs to be taken into account. Just like Will Smith getting a poor white person fired from their minimum wage job is not punching up, an internet celebrity sicking the mob on a person can also be punching down.

                This person was toxic, no doubt. But then shame them on Twitter, and if their bosses see it, then fine, they are fired, but launching campaigns against poor people (and if she’s working at a cinema, she’s either poor or a minor, and going after minors is it’s own problem) to get them fired is not something I will ever be for.

                1. ITPuffNStuff*

                  have to agree with advocate here. sparky’s statement seems to imply a belief that only 3 options exist:
                  1. say nothing
                  2. confront in person
                  3. report to employer

                  if that were true, rejecting the first 2 options would only leave the last. but it’s not true. there are a literally infinite diversity of options but the one that stands out to me is:

                  4. state your disagreement with the person’s position in the same medium (in this case twitter) as the original post

                  choosing #3 feels like “this person is a jerk, and i *must* ensure that jerks are punished!”

                  it comes across as some sort of idealistic crusade to end all racist spouting off everywhere in the world. there are 7 billion people in the world. if even 1% of them are spouting racism or other inflammatory hatred, that’s 70 million people spouting hate-filled comments. do you really want to devote your life to pursuing social justice for 70 million racists?

                  i feel like if people really cared about social justice, they would volunteer their time and/or money to helping the disadvantaged victims of racism. attacking the racist in this context feels a lot more like revenge and selfish gratification than genuine concern for social justice.

        5. kt (lowercase)*

          She was not doxxed. She posted this crap under her own name and identified both of her employers, in possibly the most public possible venue. Please don’t completely misrepresent what actually happened.

        6. AGirlCalledFriday*

          Well, maybe people SHOULD be holding others accountable for their bigoted and hateful views. A person could be as bigoted as all get-out, but if they never speak of it and have no evidence of actions based on it, how is that a bad thing? You often can’t change a person’s mind, but I fail to see how telling people “Your views are hateful and we do not want you associated with this company/restaurant/group of friends/significant other” will lead anywhere negative.

      2. ITPuffNStuff*

        hi laurel,

        you’re 100% right that it’s not the same, but … would a company with a stock price and a reputation to worry about care more about the ethics of terminating someone for an unpopular, but not hateful, opinion, or care more about the company’s finances?

    2. Steve G*

      Interesting question, but I realized it really doesn’t apply here. I’ve literally never been on Twitter before (yes, seriously)……and you can find the posts in 2 seconds. She made an illogical comment along the lines of “if you don’t like it here, go back to where you came from,” which obviously sparked a discussion because not everyone came here voluntarily, and the countries people came from 100s of years ago might no longer exist, etc. etc.

      Not to mention she is posing with her tongue out in a pretty sexually suggestive way, yet another reason to let her go. NOT a professional image.

      But as per the OP’s question….what does this have to do with the NC shooting? I hope the OP didn’t just throw that event in to make the question more controversial, because I am not seeing the connection (which may be a result of my lack of twittering expertise).

      1. Steve G*

        Also, the posts look anti-immigrant-from-non-white country, while the shooting was at a black church. She is telling immigrants who don’t like it here to go back to where they came from, the more I think about this, the less of a connection to the church shooting I’m seeing. What am I missing?

          1. De (Germany)*

            (I can’t get on Twitter at work, so I have no idea what she tweeted or whether something has been deleted, though)

        1. Laurel Gray*

          Her tweets were directed at blacks, not immigrants. Some quotes of her tweets I found from googling her Twitter handle:

          “Don’t complain about being a minority and say whites are a problem when your ancestors chose to come here knowing they would be a minority.”


          I got these from the article on this story on the International Business Times website.

          1. YaH*

            >“Don’t complain about being a minority and say whites are a problem when your ancestors chose to come here knowing they would be a minority.”

            I am eating a peanut butter sandwich and I literally just choked when I read this. I have no words…

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I just about fell out of my chair. I think I actually made a “Gaaaaah” noise out loud.


            Baby Jeebus forgive me, but I want to kick her so hard right now.

          3. Observer*


            If I were her employer, I’d seriously wonder if she lied about graduating HS. That kind of ignorance is SCARY.

            1. Anna*

              I was doing an event at a local high school and there were two students there wearing t-shirts that said, “If you think the Civil War was about slavery and not states’ rights, you have been lied to.” The person I was with and I could only look at each other and fantasize about asking them to explain their shirts.

        2. fposte*

          I think that’s because you’re looking for logic and not realizing how deeply stupid those tweets are.

    3. Jen RO*

      I agree. She was not representing the employer… but the online mob decided to get her fired anyway.

      1. Saurs*

        Mobs are mobs, the kind that engage in physical violence. People on the internet are not mobs, they don’t “lynch” people, they aren’t “hunting” “witches.” Nobody was “doxxed.” Stripped of the hyperbole, the woman tweeted racist things using her name and photograph. People used this information to contact her employer. The employer decided to fire her. Racists are not a protected class. It’s legal to discriminate against them: to decide not to work with, associate with, or employ them.

        1. De (Germany)*

          Image being a coworker (or a boss!) of that person, belonging to a minority and then reading that your coworker publicly announces: “Don’t complain about being a minority and say whites are a problem when your ancestors chose to come here knowing they would be a minority.” Awesome work environment :/

          1. Golden Yeti*

            Context aside, I had that thought myself. Especially considering Gamergate. Even John Oliver did a bit recently on women being targeted online.

        2. Liz in a Library*

          While I think this was easily bad enough to fire over, I’ll recommend the latest Jon Ronson book to you (So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed). The Internet can turn into a mob very quickly, and that behavior can do good, but it can also do a great deal of damage.

          1. AmyNYC*

            YES! I was going to comment recommending this book. Very relevant to this topic, but also just a really really interesting read.

            1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

              I’ve had it in my “to read” pile for awhile now. I really need to start it!

          2. sittingduck*

            There is also a great talk by Monica Lewinsky about Internet Shame ‘The Price of Shame’ (search ‘Monica Lewinsky TedX’) She talks about being patient Zero for public humiliation online/through digital media and she makes some great points.

          3. Saurs*

            Equivocating twitterers tweeting a cinema chain to inform them that that an employee is publicly making racist statements with organized misogynists willing to doxx people, hack accounts, create multiple separate accounts to harass individual people, and threaten them with rape and murder is a bit ludicrous, really. We all know the difference. The former are not behaving like a “mob.”

            I’ve read excerpts from the book. A lot of tentative, both-sides-do-it handwringing over PC Folk Going Too Far!!!1! Emotive language like “shaming” implies that people don’t have a right, collectively, to disagree with somebody’s racist or sexist bullshit, that agreeing with others that something is unethical or prejudiced means you’re Part of the Problem, or Intolerant of Other’s Sincerely Held Beliefs. Nope and nope, with a heaping helping of nope.

        3. Blue Anne*

          It worries me because I’m poly. Where does that fall? If someone sees me talking about it online, puts it together, decides I’m a pervert, and contacts the rather conservative firm I work for…. well, what then? I don’t think I’d be fired, but I do think I’d be discriminated against, and I’m not a protected class either.

          I just don’t think it’s that clear cut a thing. I don’t like what this person was saying but I’m not sure I liked that she got fired for it in this way, either.

          1. Helka*

            There’s a really big difference between being poly and being a hateful person who is not afraid to spew that hatred. You’re not actually causing harm to other people through your poly-ness, after all.

            1. Blue Anne*

              I agree. But there are quite a lot of people who don’t openly discriminate against gay people only because there is social and legal pushback for doing so. For me? There’s not so much. Most of the more liberal and open-minded people I’ve met see no problem with it; others think I’m a complete pervert they don’t want their kids (or girlfriends) to be around.

              So when I see stuff like this happening, I get antsy.

            2. 266e Source of Uncertainty*

              I think that the issue here is what happens if a hateful hate spewing person takes a disliking to a harmless poly person like Blue Anne.

              And – we all have our private quirks. I personally like to [deleted] at 432nm. It’s probably only a matter of time. Andy Warhol said that in the future, everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. But I think Marilyn Manson really nailed it when he described it as “15 minutes of shame”.

              1. Kelly L.*

                If Blue Anne were to be fired/penalized for being poly, that would be wrong, while being penalized/fired for being a public bigot is not wrong. I know that’s cold comfort if it were to actually happen, but it isn’t the same thing and shouldn’t be viewed as the same thing.

                1. Blue Anne*

                  Sure, I agree with you. But where’s the line? It’s nice to say “This would be wrong, that would not be wrong”. But there are a lot of people who would disagree, and they’re just as capable of saying that on the internet.

          2. Apollo Warbucks*

            I would put being poly in the mind your own business category it doesn’t harm anyone and is and entirely personal matter and certainly isn’t perverted. It used to be that homosexuality was grounds for dismissal in the UK and people would make reports to companies that people were sexual deviants, social attitudes change so maybe in time you’ll be able to be openly poly at work in the mean UK employment law you would offer you some protection from constructive dismissal if the terms of your employment were changed in such away that made you want to leave. If you’re in the US I would hope there is some HR policy that would offer some protection or you could appeal to your bosses sense of decency in not retaliating against you for a non work related issue, even if they don’t like your personal relationships.

            1. Blue Anne*

              I’m in the UK, so no, I’m not worried about getting fired over this. Although I do work for a very conservative firm, and it could also be argued that I’m bringing my professional body into disrepute.

              It’s more the principle I’m concerned about. I’m an edge case. I’m sure there are lots of other situations where people would be divided about whether someone’s characteristics or lifestyle are acceptable – that’s the nature of life. So even though I agree that this woman’s racism was disgusting, I’m very nervous about the precedent being set here.

              1. Apollo Warbucks*

                I see the concern you have but I don’t see this setting a precedent for sacking someone for simply not finding someone’s characteristics or lifestyle acceptable, to me it’s about a very particular type of behaviour that is damaging and harmful that should be stopped.

                Constructive dismissal would offer you some protection from retaliation, if your boss made your life so difficult that you wanted to leave then you could file a claim at an employment tribunal which isn’t ideal but at least it’s something.

              2. LCL*

                Exactly this has happened in the US to teachers in small towns. In one case, the female teacher posted a facebook photo of herself on vacation enjoying an adult beverage, and some parents tried to get her fired.

                1. Zillah*

                  But what’s your argument? That content is completely irrelevant in how one chooses to respond to a given situation?

                  We can come up with plenty of reasons for why the teacher’s situation was different. A picture of her drinking was very unlikely to alienate anyone she works with or make them feel uncomfortable; the school is not a private institution whose bottom line is profit, it’s a public institution who sometimes has to make parents unhappy for a variety of reasons; what she was depicted as doing was well within normal adult behavior… etc. But ultimately, I think that the answer is that content is not irrelevant, and people are free to find some content more offensive than other content and take action.

              3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                I could (theoretically) get fired for being a liberal. I work for conservative people in an industry that is pretty conservative. I’m “known” in the industry and the last thing that would be good for our business would be a bunch of talk about me and my personal views that have nothing to do with business.

                If I’m talking politics online, I don’t put my name and my picture next to it, because, that would be dumb.

                * I would not actually be fired for being a liberal but if I did something online that drew undue attention to the company in (whatever not positive light), that would not be a good thing.

                Point being, almost anything except posting Jello Mold recipes carries some risk of blow back. It’s wise to assess our own risk and act accordingly.

          3. Can-Do*

            I understand your concerns and I hope we get to a place where these sort of things don’t weigh on the minds of anyone, regardless of their life choices. That being said, her twitter profile has her full name and picture. It’s not like she’s going out of her way to hide anything. A customer could easily walk into this business and see the exact face and name that just hours ago told them they don’t belong in the country they were born in.

            I think the divide between this particular situation and others who live slightly left of the middle without putting others down, is big.

          4. Althea*

            I agree with you. There are plenty of people out there, including employers, who will find a poly lifestyle just as hateful as I find a racism-spewer. I don’t feel like the defenders of firing racists have shown what the line is between the two… why would someone be right for firing a racist but wrong for firing someone who is poly?

            It seems to set us up for working only with people of like mind, or who specifically value certain kinds of diversity. It puts the smallest minorities in a bad position for finding employment.

            1. Lore*

              But I don’t think the issue is whether the person is a racist but whether they chose a public forum to express racist opinions toward other people under an identity that could easily be traced to their employer. It seems somewhat unlikely to me that a poly person is going to tweeting statements that denigrate monogamists, which is the behavior at issue here.

              1. Althea*

                I think this is a bit clearer. Elsewhere on the thread someone posted about the action of hate speech as being outwardly directed, whereas you can’t be gay “at” someone. I guess the question still remains on what is categorized this way. What about attendance at a white supremacist rally? Or holding a symbol that can be interpreted a lot of ways, like the confederate battle flag? If you are part of Westboro Baptist Church, which has hateful speech all the time, can you be fired considering it’s part of your religion (which is protected)? It becomes a question of what action and speech can be considered as directed toward another group.

            2. Apollo Warbucks*

              The difference between the being racists and poly is quite a big one and diversity should only extend to actions or speech that doesn’t do any harm.

              Being racist isn’t a kind of diversity that should be accepted, a poly lifestyle isn’t harming anyone, racism clearly is harmful and there is a legal consideration too, having overtly raciest people in the office could well lead to a hostile work environment which might lead to a lawsuit.

              1. Blue Anne*

                It’s great that you think poly doesn’t do any harm, and obviously, I agree with you. But not everyone does. There are certainly a lot of people from more conservative backgrounds who seem to think that in virtue of being poly, I’m some type of sexual predator, attempting to corrupt or molest them/their children/their wife.

                All I need is to go on a nice weekend away, tweet “Houston I am in you! (And your sister, ha!)”, get jumped on by a bunch of angry conservatives, and have someone contact my firm. You know? No, I wouldn’t get fired. I’d just have everyone in my super conservative audit firm decide I was a pervert. That would go well for me.

                1. going undercover for this one*

                  Blue Anne is correct, poly people are judged harshly. In my area (Fort Worth, Texas), a young girl was killed and her body was left in the street. Her parents were poly and comments on the news story had a lot of unfounded and cruel accusations that one of the parents must have murdered the child or that it was punishment to the parents for their lifestyle. The police were very quick to try and shut down those kind of comments but they still occurred. The murderer turned out to be a neighborhood teen boy who lived next door.

              2. Althea*

                This I don’t understand, though. If I’m poly, and I tweet “date night with Jaime, Jon, and Arya followed by fun back at home!” or “saying our vows” with a picture of multiple people doing so… or, whatever, just some speech that indicates a poly lifestyle –

                Have you never encountered people that say showing these kinds of things are disgusting, hateful, bad example to kids, etc? Not *being* poly privately, but talking about it and demonstrating that it exists. I’ve heard many people espouse this opinion about gay people who are demonstrative in public.

                So: one person tweets some pics of their poly lifestyle, one person tweets a pic of themselves at a white supremacist meeting. Both are fired for participating in “hateful” activities (and showing that on twitter). WHAT is the difference? You can’t just say “there is a big difference.” Tell me what the difference IS.

                1. Blue Anne*

                  Ohhhhh yeah. I’ve only ever once had someone cover her kid’s eyes when I walked around hand-in-hand with my girlfriend – it’s happened, but only once. But walking around with my boyfriend AND my girlfriend, and god forbid any of us should give any of the others a peck on the cheek? Good LORD the glares. And shouts.

                  Then there’s the flood of “You’re going to hell and you’re a corrupting influence” type messages that come in when we’re open and honest on dating sites. The unsolicited debates/diatribes from acquaintances, ranging from “society wouldn’t work if everyone did it like you, selfish jerk” to “If I find out you’ve had kids I’m going to check whether you’re still poly and then call social services”. Even from friends there’s often an assumption that I and my partners are all, basically, just loose hippies.

                  And this is Scotland for crying out loud! We want to break off and join Scandinavia!

                  So yeah. Believe me when I say, for SURE there are people who think my lifestyle is terribly harmful to anyone who comes into contact with me.

                2. Apollo Warbucks*

                  The difference is that if someone is poly then it doesn’t not hurt anyone else it is an entirely personal and private matter. If someone is racist then there is a target for that racism, people suffer as a result of other people
                  being racist towards them.

                  I don’t know how you don’t understand that.

                3. Zillah*

                  I think Blue Anne’s argument, though, is that making everything in private off limits is more likely to protect her than making some things off limits and some things not, because there are people who aren’t going to agree with the guidelines we believe in. In her example, the person at the rally isn’t doing anything in particular – they’re just there.

                  Blue Anne, I’m trying to articulate the difference beyond my personal morality (because I think that there is a difference), but I’m having a really hard time with it. I’ll think about it and comment back later?

                4. Althea*

                  @ Apollo Warbucks:

                  Here is the specific example I gave: one person tweets some pics of their poly lifestyle, one person tweets a pic of themselves at a white supremacist meeting. Both are fired for participating in “hateful” activities (and showing that on twitter).

                  How is one firing right vs wrong? You keep avoiding the question. Both people expressed themselves publicly in a picture. Both pictures were found to be “harmful” by employers. And the difference is…? You might say “one is harmful and one is not” but your definition of “harmful” doesn’t matter to that employer. Only her definition of harmful does.

                  Not sure why, site does not allow replies after a certain point.

                5. Apollo Warbucks*

                  I have not avoided your question, I don’t understand your confusion about my point of view, I’ve explained why I think being poly is different to being racist, but I’ll try once again.

                  You use an example of two people sharing photos in a similar manner, are you trying to suggest that a superficial apperance Makes the two events similar in nature, intent and impact? If so that blows my mind, also you seem to be equating hate speech with morality.

                  The distinction I am making between being poly and racist hinges on the difference between morality and hate speech.

                  Being opposed to being poly requires a moral judgement that someone’s behaviour is offensive or wrong, which I think is an unreasonable conculsion to come to because the only people affected by a poly relationship are those that activly chose to be involved in it, if a poly person dates 2 people or 20 makes no difference to you, me or anybody else at all. It literally has no impact on anything.

                  Being racist is damaging to individuals and communities it dehumanises and marginalises people based on their skin coulor or country of origin.

                  The bottom line is people’s morals are how they live their life not what they seek to impose on others so I would object to someone being fired for something that doesn’t have any negative consequences to an external party. Whereas I think people should be protected from racism.

                6. aebhel*

                  Are you seriously saying that you see no difference between attending a white supremacist meeting and going on a date with your significant others?

                  Okay. The difference is that one is a directed attack on a group of people, and the other is not.

              3. Advocate*

                The point they are trying to make below is that if the standard is “only try to get people fired if what they post is hateful”, well then the bigot who hates poly people will find BlueAnne’s photos hateful and be within your standard to launch a campaign to get her fired.

                If the standard is “don’t do it” then that protects BlueAnne and yes, it also protects the racist bigot, but I would rather protect people like BlueAnne than have a chance at punishing racists.

                There is no standard you can create that is “don’t do it to the people I like and it’s okay to do it to the people I don’t like” that can work, because that’s a subjective standard.

                1. Helka*

                  But at this point, what we’re comparing are two fundamentally different things, because even if someone finds polyamory morally repugnant, you cannot get “these people are openly advocating for the harm of others” out of a picture of three people holding hands.

                  This is like saying that you shouldn’t be able to fire someone for punching another coworker in the office, because if we fire people for behaving badly, what about the people who play harmless pranks? That upsets some people!

                2. Advocate*

                  The thing is, the kind of people who are against gay marriage do think it’s harming society. Their belief is wrong, but it’s how they think. Denying that is true and creating straw man arguments for them doesn’t help the debate.

                  So, when you say the standard is for “people harming other people”, there are people who think gays/bisexuals/poly/trans people would fit that definition just by existing. And the thing with Twitter is that, say they are 1% of the population–locally, they’d be a handful, but connected through Twitter, they can easily reach the same mob size as we’ve seen in past cases.

                  That’s why society needs to draw a line and say mob “justice” is wrong, because you cannot create a standard that will allow you to attack people you find harmful but protect the people bigots find harmful.

                3. Saurs*

                  You are suggesting that if two or more people agree that racism is wrong and say so aloud or on the interwebs, they are victimized the racist and mobbing them.

                  If it’s okay to say the racist thing, why is it awful to say the thing is racist?

          5. Saurs*

            Sorry, but I fail to perceive anything but the most ephemeral of slippery slopes here.

            Your being poly predicts nothing about your fitness or desirability as an employee. It’s a small (perhaps defining, perhaps not), private, and inherent facet of your character. No amount of “well-meaning” persuasion or reason or show of force can make you not-poly. (You can pretend, of course, if you have to.) No one could logically argue that your being poly is, taking into account only the effect of your polyness on the rest of humanity, a non-affirmative act / behavior / characteristic; being poly does not require you to classify, find wanting, or judge the humanity, intelligence, or morality of other people. It is not hateful. It is not derogatory. It is not divisive; there is no Poly Authority that dictates your taste, customs, and behavior from on high, irrespective of local conventions and laws. It doesn’t require from you illegal or unethical behavior. It does not follow that, being poly, you will be accustomed to treat colleagues or clients differently, even in a hostile or violent manner, based on Curious, Insider-y Poly (il)Logic.

            Being an avowed racist, the kind of person who would use a mass murder as an excuse to go on a tear about “migrants” (this from a white person whose ancestors lived, not too long ago, quite far away, and who probably ought to piss off back there but that they don’t want her, either), is an objectively undesirable quality from the perspective of virtually any employer. Successful white supremacist businessfolk agree: plausible deniability through codes and dogwhistles and white affirmative action — and the ability to judge one’s audience and reception accordingly — are infinitely better strategies than using social media to denounce Divisive Black People (Who Are the Real Racists). No one is born racist; we’re raised and indoctrinated in it, and even anti-racists will be racist because there is no magically pure vacuum into which anyone can escape from it, more’s the pity for its victims. One can renounce racism. One can choose, if wily enough, to keep it out of the workplace. One doesn’t have to lecture women about how they cry too much in labs. One is not obliged to wag their finger at trans women about judicious applications of lipstick, about how they’re “hurting” sad feminists. These are choices. Bad ones. Being poly is not.

            It’s not asking too much that the loudest and least sophisticated racists and sexists and homophobes and transphobes pipe down. You are not “oppressing” them by requiring that they keep their hatred out of your headspace, out of your office, out of your personal bubble. You are not enabling anti-poly folk to stalk you or out you by demanding that businesses and employers emphatically divorce themselves from bigotry. It’s the least they can do and it costs them nothing and earns them (quite unfairly) a lot of goodwill. They’ll survive, and so will the racists.

            1. ITPuffNStuff*

              one thing to bear in mind about this particular incident is that the headspace in question was a public information sharing service — so essentially this comes across as “think whatever you want, but i had better never read / hear / find out about it in any way or through any medium”.

              i don’t see much difference between “you’re entitled to your opinion, but not to express it anywhere ever” and “you’re just not entitled to your opinion”.

              1. Saurs*

                That’s exactly right. No one badgered this woman until she admitted, at long last, that she doesn’t like people of color. No one forced her to shamefully voice hateful ignorance. She gladly did all that herself, unprovoked and, as you say, in public.

                I don’t really see anyone arguing that people are not entitled to their racism. There is no thought-policing in that regard. People are entitled to believe and express racist ideas, and other people are entitled to their reactions, entitled to disagree, entitled to protect themselves or limit their exposure to wearying racism. Acknowledging that speech that can have consequences is not censorship.

                On the other hand, there are people shushing anti-racists and pretending that objections and criticism is tantamount to harassment or oppression. That’s just feels like tone-trolling to me. People are allowed to be vociferous and robust in their condemnation of crude and cruel stereotypes. The tone in which anti-racist sentiment is expressed, provided it is not hateful or threatening, is utterly irrelevant, a smokescreen. Speaking in polite euphemisms while whitewashing history, minimizing the violence of institutional racism, victim blaming, and advocating for segregation does not magically make somebody a worthy and reasonable interlocutor speaking in good faith. We’re allowed to find ideas beyond the pale, and individual people get to decide at what point they’re no longer willing to humor devils’s advocates and white supremacists. That includes employers.

      2. Merry*

        The “mob” did not decide to get her fired. They decided to let the employer know how racist and awful she was. The employer then decided they don’t want someone like that working for them. Quite rightly, as far as I’m concerned.

        If people want to be racist assholes in public, they should accept that there are likely to be consequences for that.

        1. fposte*

          Though I think we can lean too much on that–Justine Sacco was not the open and shut case the Internet wanted to claim it was, for instance. I think the crowd psychology takes on its own life separate from any question of justice.

          1. Ad Astra*

            Justine Sacco was wrong, SO WRONG, to say what she said — and her other tweets didn’t make her sound like someone I’d want to spend even five minutes with. But it was kind of scary the way her tweets went viral and the mob mentality took over.

            1. Anna*

              Again, not that straight forward. She was trying to be ironic in that tweet. Unfortunately irony doesn’t translate in 140 characters. Anyway, it wasn’t well thought out, but I’m not sure the reaction was justified.

              Here’s the thing. No lesson was learned from alerting the young woman’s employer and her being fired. It didn’t address how wrong about history she is and it didn’t address whatever misinformation she’s operating under. Does that mean she should have been given a pass? Absolutely not. Call it out when you see it. But I’m not entirely sure this was the correct way to go about this. I don’t know. It just seems like another cosmetic response to a deeper issue. Great. A bunch of people on the Internet brought dumb tweets to her employer’s attention and she lost her job. Do you think she’ll be struck by the stupidity of her words? Probably not. She’ll blame it on those [Insert racist epithet here] and rather than learning anything and being educated, she’ll instead be more entrenched in her dumb ideology.

              1. Ad Astra*

                I think we’re on the same page. I’m not sorry this kid got fired, but I don’t think she learned what we hoped she would learn.

            2. Observer*

              Have you actually read what she said about that tweet?

              Sure, maybe she’s making it up in retrospect, but it fits with her on-line persona from before that tweet. Was it smart? No, but not because it was necessarily so hateful. Rather because it lent itself to such black and white interpretation without any context, and she wasn’t around to respond to it.

            3. Steve G*

              Regardless of how bad or if what she said was a joke, or ever how you take those tweets, the thing with Justine was bad judgment – she works in PR. Knowing how and what and when to post stuff on the net is supposed to be part of her job skills, and she apparently lacked in that skill department. One could say they were jokes, but are they really that funny? Even if you don’t find them offensive, they are such overplayed stereotypes (I think I was exposed to about a 1000 English bad-teeth jokes while in Europe) that they aren’t even interesting anymore. So yet again, bad judgment to post.

              That being said, I didn’t get the mob mentality either. If someone says something intelligent but wrong or partially wrong, I tend to engage them in discussion, but if someone just say something dumb, why the need to engage them? Why not just ignore it?

              1. Observer*

                Yes, bad judgement.

                But the whole “OMG, she’s so racist!!!!!” was really, really overplayed.

                1. Steve G*

                  I totally agree it was overplayed. And her choice of disease was bad judgment (especially as you don’t get it just from being somewhere). She could have chosen one of the less politically-charge diseases that they vaccinate you for when you go to Africa, like Malaria (or at least my friends that went to Nigeria and Sudan had loads of vaccines/pills and I’m pretty sure there was a malaria one in there).

                2. zora*

                  Well she was trying to make a political commentary on the tragedy of the spread of AIDS in Africa/third world as opposed to the developed/First World. So that’s why she chose the words she did. But I think it was in the end a good lesson for her and others to learn. it’s just not something we can joke about as white people, even when we think we’re doing it for the right reasons. It’s a hard lesson, but an important one.

          1. Cactus*

            Yep…but it was still ultimately the employer’s decision. Regal Cinemas could have ignored the tweets and become the theater chain of choice for racists nationwide. Or they could have done what they did do, risk ire from virulent racists, but still retain the patronage of anti-racists. The people reporting this lowlife on Twitter knew what they wanted to happen, but it wasn’t necessarily a given that it would.

            1. Jen RO*

              “become the theater chain of choice for racists nationwide” – come on… this is exactly the kind of mentality I was talking about. One racist tweet from one employee does not make an entire theater racist, even assuming they hadn’t fired her. But it’s oh so fun to exaggerate online…

            2. ITPuffNStuff*

              anti-racist seems like an operative term in this situation, because it feels like the respondents were much more anti-racist than pro-equality.

              it feels disingenuous to me that the respondents may view their response as advancing the cause of racial equality, when more than likely they were acting out of revenge for a personal outrage. however understandable the outrage, revenge is still ultimately a self-serving act, and does little to advance the cause of equality.

              it would be revelatory to know how many of the outraged respondents have ever donated even 1 dollar of their money or 1 hour of their time to causes that help disadvantaged minorities. it’s far more popular, but far less beneficial, to apply the stick to racists than to give carrots to their victims.

        1. Anna*

          This is such a cop out. “I am absolved of any responsibility because I only TOLD them what I saw. It was entirely up to them what they decided to do with the information.”

          While this is nowhere near the same level as murder, you do realize that people have been found guilty of being accessories for providing information they knew or suspected would lead to a murder. Just because you didn’t actually DO the thing doesn’t mean you don’t bear some responsibility for the thing.

          1. Gandalf the Nude*

            Turn around your example, then. Still not on the same level as the actual incident, but if I report to the police that @HyLeyLowly declared she just robbed Regal Cinemas and they bring her in, did I get her arrested? No. She got herself arrested. I just let them know that she did something illegal.

            Moreover, while I’m sure that many of the reporters anticipated and even hoped she’d be fired, that was not the one and only outcome on the table. They could have disciplined her, given her an extremely stern talking to about social media and the workplace, required her to take a racial sensitivity course, declared that they’re not in the business of policing their employees’ off the clock behavior and let it go… the list goes on. Ultimately, Regal Cinemas is responsible for its response to its employee making racist statements in a public forum, regardless of how they found out about it.

          2. Anna*

            I don’t see that as the same. In the actual thing that happened, you have the words that are the “crime” so to speak. In your example, you’re seeing a tweet about something that someone could be joking about and that most people wouldn’t know how to take. Is she joking? Is she serious? If I call the cops, am I overreacting? It’s not the same situation.

            My issue is less about her actually getting fired for being gross and more about the fact that mobs tend to hit their targets by scattering as much shot around as possible. It’s not a wise way to go. This time the Internet got it right, but they’ve often not and it’s not something we should necessarily be encouraging people to join in on.

        2. Jen RO*

          Her employer fired her after getting probably hundreds of complaints from people and risking a PR nightmare. If she had been overheard in the movie theater, she would’ve probably gotten a warning and that would have been it. I think there is a big difference here.

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      If someone chooses to parade their stupity and bigotry in a public forum then I’ve no problem with that being reported to their employer. My professional ethics mean I must not bring my profession into disrepute so I understand that off the clock behaviour can have very real consequences for my employment.

      Also from a purely commercial point of view it makes sense not to alienate a particular class of potential customers and if someone has expressed such views then how can you ask someone from a minority to work with them, there’s a potential for a hostile work to develop and legal action brought so it’s a logical response to fire someone for such behaviour.

      Also I disagree with your comparisons between being gay, transgender or having a particular political belief and being racist. They are not the same thing at all and on my opinion your comparison is seriously flawed.

      1. Blue Anne*

        My profession also has a requirement that I do not behave in a way that can bring it into disrepute. In extreme circumstances I could be barred from my professional body for it.

        I’m also poly, openly so everywhere but work. Does that bring my profession into disrepute? I’d argue it doesn’t any more than my being bisexual does. Others would almost certainly disagree.

        I don’t think that being gay and being racist are comparable either, but those are two ends of a large spectrum of characteristics, and this trend/precedent makes me worried for my job.

        1. Avocado*

          People faced professional consequences for their sexuality long before racism became socially unacceptable. There is no new “trend” here, and the precedent of professionally policing women in particular for their sexuality is ancient.

          You have a right to be afraid for your job, but it has nothing to do with this case launching some slippery slope that didn’t exist before.

      2. LBK*

        Yes – and I think there’s clear delineations between voicing a potentially unpopular opinion and hate speech. I think the former is a grey area, but if you’re (nonsensically) telling minorities to leave the country if they don’t want to be discriminated against, that seems to fall squarely in the latter category.

        1. Blue Anne*

          >clear delineations between voicing a potentially unpopular opinion and hate speech.

          Hm, true.

        2. Althea*

          This is maybe the closest I’ve seen to someone drawing the line for why it may be ok to fire a racist but not some other type of person or behavior. I found this definition for hate speech online:

          “Speech not protected by the First Amendment, because it is intended to foster hatred against individuals or groups based on race, religion, gender, sexual preference, place of national origin, or other improper classification.”

          So would you say that it is ok for employers to fire based on hate speech, but not based on other behaviors occurring in someone’s private life?

          1. LBK*

            I think it’s about whether the behavior is hateful vs. disagreeable. What you choose to do outside of work that’s not directed at someone is pretty much your business, as far as I’m concerned – even if you want to be hateful, bigoted, prejudice etc in the privacy of your own home, that’s your prerogative (and note that “in the privacy of your own home” does not include your publicly visible Twitter account, even if you’re posting on it outside of work). It’s when those actions are directed at other people that I feel employer intervention is merited. You can’t really be gay *at* someone, so I don’t think that’s a justified reason for firing. If someone started publicly launching slurs at straight people, that would be a more comparable situation – although I think it happens a lot less frequently (especially since our vocabulary doesn’t include such convenient and historically charged slurs for most majority groups), so that’s probably why we don’t hear about cases like that.

          2. ITPuffNStuff*

            this is kind of a weird definition of hate speech, because the 1st amendment does actually protect you (from criminal prosecution) for expressing racist and/or sexist opinions. there are exceptions when your speech incites violence, but in general the 1st amendment protects a lot of extremely inflammatory comments.

            the thing to bear in mind here is that 1st amendment protections are about criminal prosecution. there are no protections for consequences from other sources such as your employer, even if the speech in question is not hate. if you wear a blue jacket, and your company uniform is a yellow jacket, your choice of clothing is protected by the 1st amendment. and your company can fire you without concern for violating that right, because the only guarantee there is that you won’t be criminally charged for wearing blue.

            also, and this is a slightly finer but still important point: the 1st amendment does not protect you from matters of civil law. you can still lose a lawsuit if your 1st amendment protected speech causes damage to another person, presuming the court finds you legally liable for that damage. 1 final point about the 1st amendment is that some expressions (shouting ‘fire’ in a theater, telling the TSA you have a weapon, threatening someone with bodily harm, etc.) are criminally sanctioned and not protected by the 1st amendment.

      3. African Sun*

        Your comments on #2 are on point, couldn’t agree more.

        I think especially since she worked for a cinema, the movie business has been working hard to diversify audiences in the US. It’s a no-brainer that she had to go for the comments she made that totally embarrassed the company.

      4. zora*

        Everyone’s focused on the customers, but has anyone looked up who the managers/executives of Regal Cinemas are?? It’s a pretty massive, national company. I’d be willing to bet money that some of the people in the higher levels of the company actually *are* African-American. I think they get to decide they don’t want someone working for them who publicly says hateful things about them (badly, in a stupid way that made it easy to figure out who she was) and thinks that they are somehow inferior.

    5. Sarahnova*

      I see the concern, but I do think there’s a difference between, say, reporting a private conversation to your employer, and passing on a tweet, which everyone making one knows is readable to absolutely everyone in the entire world, including the business’s customers. This is arguably bringing the company into disrepute far more directly than a verbal comment made to a single person or group of people. The boss could easily have found it him/herself, or could have heard of it from the business’s customers (in fact, perhaps they did). Do your feelings on this change if a customer of Regal Cinemas saw the tweet and complained to this person’s boss?

    6. Natalie*

      “she never did any thing that outed her opinions at her job.”

      I don’t believe for a second that someone with those opinions doesn’t treat their black coworkers or customers differently. People are not that good at compartmentalizing.

      1. Allison*

        Right. She might not go around screaming the n-word at people and loudly ranting about how segregation and slavery were awesome, but I’d worry about her being disrespectful or purposefully lazy when helping black customers.

    7. Helen of What*

      Two things:

      1. It looks like she took a photo of herself in the box office of her employer. There’s a pic linked to that cant be opened now that she locked her profile. so yes, she involved her employer herself.

      2. Writing racist things on twitter is the equivalent of yelling racist things in a town square. Twitter is the town square of the world. If your employer thinks you’re acting crudely and embarrassing their brand, they can fire you (assuming at-will employment). People complain, and in the case of the internet, screenshots are proof.

    8. Anonicorn*

      While I am happy with the outcome of this particular situation, I agree that it could set a pretty scary precedent.

    9. LCL*

      I agree with IT manager. It’s basically mob justice. Sometimes the people that receive it deserve it, sometimes they don’t. Whether they deserve it or not, it is impossible to take back.
      Hounding people out of their minimum wage job and thus further alienating them from society doesn’t accomplish much of anything useful.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        And attempting to alienate minorities achieves what or should be accepted because ????

        1. ITPuffNStuff*

          false dichotomy. the implication of this statement is the only 2 possible options are instant termination or condoning racism.

          rejecting hate speech doesn’t necessarily demand termination. there are many ways an employer can communicate “this is unacceptable, cut it out right now”. termination communicates something more like “you are now officially a public relations nightmare and we aren’t touching you with a 10 foot pole”.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Imagine that she said it about you.

        Now how do you feel? Would you want to work with her? It’s difficult to swallow that kind of vitriol and be pleasant to someone you know actively hates you for no other reason than your biology (or whatever). Would you want to work in such an environment knowing the kind of attitude that simmers just under the surface? And if your employers did nothing, how would that make you feel about them?

        Just something to consider.

  8. Vladimir*

    #2 While I fully agree that it was right to fire the racist employee I do not like the way employee found out – beeing hounded by internet vigilanties. This happens more and more now and many times it hits someone who doesnt deserve it. I mean for example the young woman with arlington cemetary photo or the graduate student hounded of her university for basicaly calling one student homophobic (after he made homophobic remarks ) in private conversation or case of an executive who made one stupid post before boarding the plane and before she arrived she lost almost everythink. On the top of that these internet hounds not only try to get the people fired but also destroy their lives as much as possible and of course issue death and rape threats. So while in case of some comments like for ex. racist it is fine to fire people this current public shaming leads people to have their lives destroyed – which is never justified – not only for awful comments but also for stupidity and even for absolutly valid opinions which are just disliked by some people (like the student standing aganist homophobia). Sorry for the rant but internet vigilanties are my pet peeve in last years because they destroy lives of people in vast majority of cases undeservedly so.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      The executives tweet was beyond stupid, she was flying to South Africa and made a joke about getting aids where the punch line was lol just kidding I’m not black.

      Given South Africa’s complicated history with race relations it was a spectacularly offensive thing to say.

      I’m comfortable with people wearing the consequences of their actions, and even more comfortable when ignorance and bigotry against minority groups is called out.

        1. Sara*

          Yes. It definitely warranted firing, but nobody deserves to have their bodily integrity threatened on the internet, no matter how outrageously offensive their tweets are.

          1. Zillah*

            I agree with this, particularly since the threats themselves also often have bigotry at their source – women are far more likely to receive threats of violence and sexual violence than men, and that’s something that’s disturbing and deserves attention regardless of what the woman was saying.

            1. naanie*

              yes, this. mob “justice” aimed at women specifically so often involves rape and death threats, not to mention personal addresses, phone numbers, photos of family members etc., being posted. It’s terrifying and I don’t think anyone deserves that, no matter what they say. The point of mobs is that they’re inherently unreasonable; I think any potential “good” they may do is always outweighed by all the damage they also do to real people who have no idea what just happened.

              1. ITPuffNStuff*


                sad part is, it’s all preventable. all that would be needed to prevent this would be real privacy laws that say *you*, rather than corporations, own your information, and have the legal power to decide what information about you, if anything, is stored.

                hackers can only get the information that is stored, and if you can prevent it being stored in the 1st place, they can hack all they want and not find anything personally identifiable to post about you.

            2. ITPuffNStuff*

              i would add that violence tend not to be reported to authorities when the victim is male. there’s a social shaming that you should “be a man” rather than ask for help.

              so our primary source of intelligence about the demographics of violence is crime statistics, and those statistics necessarily include only the violence that is reported. since male victims are shamed and silenced for asking for help, a lot of it goes unreported. the same is true for female victims — i’m not claiming here that the stats represent all violence for either gender — but i am claiming that violence against men is socially accepted, even encouraged, and consequently the numeric data don’t reflect the prevalence of violence against men.

              1. Zillah*

                But I’m not talking about victims of physical violence – I’m talking about the threats women as opposed to men are subjected to online. It’s a pretty well documented phenomenon.

                1. ITPuffNStuff*

                  very sad, but also very true.

                  i realize this is probably little consolation, but the large quantity of threats are coming from a small but extremely vocal minority. that, and the primary sources of those threats are adolescent boys, not grown men, so while their behavior is contemptible, it is mostly the contemptible behavior of children. there’s no excuse for it to occur in the 1st place, but fortunately it is something most of them grow out of.

      1. fposte*

        The Justine Sacco thing is a great example of how the Internet gets reductive about these things, though. She didn’t, in broader context, make a racist tweet–she made a Stephen Colbert-type ironic tweet without being Stephen Colbert. Which is foolish and hard to pull off, but as posts here indicate the problem wasn’t that people objected to her poor ironic performance, it was that they took it literally. The Internet wanted her fired because they thought she was a racist, and the fact that she wasn’t didn’t matter.

        Jon Ronson’s book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” is really interesting on this.

        1. Allison*

          Yup, and I’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to post something Colbert-esque, but I’ve always refrained. Some people might know I’m kidding and trying to poke fun at bigots, but if people didn’t know that . . . I could get in trouble at work, I could find myself fielding a lot of angry calls and messages from friends and family, and I could potentially lose some great friends and get a reputation for being racist, and all the “I was just kidding” backpedaling in the world wouldn’t completely fix the situation. I can argue that it’s not fair and I should get to be myself on the internet no matter what, but that’s just not how the world works.

          Actions have consequences.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t disagree that actions have consequences, but people seem to use that phrase as if it means “the punishment always fits the crime.” And it doesn’t. I’d say the internet outrage machine overlaps with justice only randomly, in fact, and that when we talk in terms of consequences, we’re acting as if those of us who post in response are some kind of automated karma rather than people who are making choices and operating from our own motives, which are not always that great.

            From what I hear about the woman in the Regal Cinemas situation, I’m fine with her losing her job. But I don’t think that’s proof that Twitter campaigns or public indignation are great and get it right, because I think a lot, possibly most of the time they’re not and they don’t.

            1. Allison*

              If we’re talking about insane harassment campaigns, I agree, those do take things too far. As someone who takes issue with the way people like Anita Sarkeesian have been treated, I do agree that the internet rage machine can take things too far. Harassment in order to silence someone, especially when it includes death threats, is NOT okay. I also take issue with the hate campaign against Lacey Green is nuts – she said the T-word when she was 18 and she apologized, and while it wasn’t a great apology, I think people should let that one go.

              But what OP #2 was talking about wasn’t a harassment campaign, so we probably shouldn’t get too far into that topic. They’re similar issues, but not the same thing.

              1. fposte*

                I think they’re closely related, though, in the way we think and talk about them. I don’t at the moment feel the need to dig deeper, but I think it’s fair discussion play unless Alison asks to move it back to a narrower focus.

              2. Ezri*

                “From what I hear about the woman in the Regal Cinemas situation, I’m fine with her losing her job. But I don’t think that’s proof that Twitter campaigns or public indignation are great and get it right, because I think a lot, possibly most of the time they’re not and they don’t.”

                I agree with this entirely. I’ve seen a lot of internet vitriol ramp up to mob-like proportions over any number of things; the only difference is that in this case it is ‘justified’ by society. But the problem is that these internet outrage-fests are uncontrolled and rarely clean.

                Sure, in this case they called a place of employment to report the comments, and I think most of us feel that’s fair in a world where nothing on the internet can be erased. But these kind of situations also generally involve death threats, rape threats, posting of your address and contact info online, and even stalking.

                There’s simply no way to control who gets involved and what they decide to do. And I think we need to be careful of supporting a construct that so often goes in that direction, because it just as often targets innocent people as jerks.

                1. Golden Yeti*

                  I’d agree with fposte and Ezri. In some cases (such as this one), public opinion of what someone posted online is pretty unanimous. In other cases, it’s limited to a certain group, or a subset of a certain group (again thinking of Gamergate). But in many cases across the board (as Ezri pointed out), it may not be so simple as someone “only” losing a job; that individual may also be targeted and threatened. It seems like in the grand scheme of things, the internet is no longer just a place to make your voice heard; it’s also open season to “take down” people you don’t agree with, in whatever way you deem fit (be it emotionally/mentally/physically). And that’s more than a little scary.

              1. fposte*

                Thanks. I’m a weird combination of feeling really angsty about all this but still figuring out what exactly I think, so I’m really appreciating the discussion.

            2. James M.*

              I’d say the internet outrage machine overlaps with justice only randomly…

              Well stated.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          Thank you for saying this. It seems like a lot of people aren’t interested in knowing the truth about that incident. Being in PR, she should have known better, but it’s a case of being stupid rather than racist.

        3. Xay*

          It was a poor joke and poor irony. Stephen Colbert could pull off his character in a 30 minute show with 4 episodes a week. You can’t do the same thing in a tweet especially without establishing your tone. That is why there is so much discussion of tone in written communication. I also think people fail to understand how “it’s an ironic joke” often is not sufficient excuse for racist jokes – see the annual offensive t-shirts from American Apparel.

          1. fposte*

            Right, it was an ill-advised tweet. But the outrage was based on its being sincere, and it wasn’t. And once people get outraged, they’re much likelier to find justifications to stay that way rather than amending their response based on new information, so people who wouldn’t have grabbed torches and pitchforks over “Your irony is ineffective in this medium!!!” weren’t willing to put them down even when they discovered that had been the problem.

            1. Xay*

              Actually, if you read through the reaction at the time – it was read as a racist joke, not as a sincere statement. The justification for the joke was it wasn’t an actual racist joke, it was an ironic racist joke. However, what is missed is that this came up at a time when people were getting fed up with racism in the form of ironic racist jokes.

              1. fposte*

                You’re right, I phrased that poorly–it was read as a sincerely racist joke, when it was an ironically racist joke. But again, it really, when you look at the broader context of her expression, wasn’t racism under the guise of irony; this was more like cracking down on public inebriation by ticketing somebody who’s walking awkwardly in poorly fitting shoes.

                And again, yeah, it’s dumb to count on people understanding you’re being ironic, especially because, as you say, the LOL just kidding thing is rampant as a cover. But I don’t think the internet lesson there ended up being about racism at all, and yet that’s what at least manifestly drove the fervor.

        4. some1*

          FWIW I dated a conservative guy 10 years ago who didn’t realize Stephen Colbert was satire.

          1. zora*

            My dad ‘hated’ Stephen Colbert for years before I realized he thought that and finally explained that it was satire. Sadly, that was only 6 months before he ended his show! Oh, dad. ;o)

        5. Jubilance*

          IDK if I buy that. I’m a very active Twitter user and was online the day the Justine Sacco event happened. It’s really easy for Justine to say later “I was trying to be ironic but I’m not a racist” cause honestly, who is going to admit to being a racist? There’s lots of ways to show irony or sarcasm on Twitter and she didn’t do any of that – she sent out a tweet that regardless of her intention, was in terribly bad taste, incredibly offensive, and given that she works in PR, showed a complete lack of understanding that people WILL judge you on what you tweet. Now, I don’t think her company should have fired her before she even landed, but being called on the carpet about her tweet was the right thing to do.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            I agree she should have been called on the carpet for it because it was a dumb thing to do in the context, but I have to say, I read her tweet as ironic and taking a poke at institutionalized racism. It was only after the outrage started that I thought, ok, I must have been wrong about that. My point is just that I can’t discount that she meant it that way since to me, it read that way. But I read a lot of stuff the wrong way on the internet, so I’m not saying I’m right.

          2. fposte*

            I thought a lot about the “j/k” kind of cover myself, and yes, before I read the Ronson I figured the situation the same way (and it still could be the case, of course). And oh yes, the carpet would have been her destination upon the first day she returned if she worked for me.

            For me there are so many factors on this issue of campaigning for termination of employees–bigotry of all kinds and ways it’s been camouflaged, public and private discourse, reading in specific and broader context, , employee and employer rights, etc.–that I can’t come up with a neat rule that would apply across the board to everybody that covers reactions as well as actions. The Regal Cinema employee thing is gratifyingly straightforward to me, but that may be atypical.

            1. zora*

              I totally see everything you’re saying, fposte, and I think I am in the same place as you with all of this: still figuring it out.

              But I’ll repeat something I said above: as a white person I have learned I just can’t make the same sarcastic/satirical jokes about groups I don’t belong to. This is what some of my friends call “hipster racism.” It is hurtful for people to hear certain words coming from me, even if they know I’m technically kidding.

              I feel badly for Justine Sacco now, because I think she didn’t mean to be hurtfully racist. and I do think it’s crossing a major line to threaten bodily harm/violence to someone for what they say online, full stop. But I do think she made a major mistake, and I think it is important that we learn to be intentional about things like twitter. I agree that if she worked for me we would have had a Very Serious conversation about what happened as soon as she landed, because I think we need to take these things very seriously. But also maybe people are allowed to make some mistakes, apologize and learn from them once or twice before being massively penalized? I don’t know. I think it is good, though, on balance, that people are being held accountable for racist language.

              1. fposte*

                I totally agree with what you’re saying; this does start bleeding into the hipster racism phenomenon, as noted elsewhere. It *does* matter that she sounds just like tons of people who mean it when they say things like that. It isn’t unreasonable for people to assume that she is using this mode of expression in the way most people do, and when the words are traveling on their own, that’s exactly what’s going to happen, and it will make people feel exactly the same as an irony-free tweet using the exact same words.

            2. fposte*

              Adding, now that I think more about it–I’m frustrated in struggling with this, because I feel like what I’m saying is perilously close to “Hey, what Justine/Tim said was just a joke, man.” I’d like to think that’s not where I am, because I absolutely agree: jokes don’t get you off the hook, what they said has problems and implications even as jokes, even if they’d said it privately (Hunt’s in particular has layers of issues underneath the notion that this is what he thought would make him seem appreciative), and that they’re quacking way too much like ducks to be surprised when people treat them as ducks. But I think the viral rage (of which I was absolutely a part, though not on social media) depended on treating their words in a soundbite/listicle way that neatly prunes out any complicating nuance and context, and that makes me uneasy too.

      2. Allison*

        not to mention, she was a PR exec, she really should have known better.

        really, while we’ve all said dumb stuff on social media, most of us learn somewhere in or 20’s that you can’t just spew whatever garbage pops into your head online, because some posts will have consequences. I’m 26, and I definitely stop and think “what will happen if I post this? do I really need to say this publicly?”

    2. 266e Source of Uncertainty*

      No need to be sorry! I really don’t think there’s even an issue when it comes to an employer firing an employee for their public statements[1]. But I have a real problem with doxing and publicly shaming people for any reason at all. I think a lot of people claim they do it “for greater justice” etc, but in truth they’re just opportunistic bullies.

      Also, it’s probably worth mentioning it’s not unusual for doxers to break the law to get ahold of private information.

      Not everyone agrees with me, but I’m a big fan of freedom of speech, and I think that when someone starts talking trash on the Internet, the best way to handle it is to ignore it. Because the 1st amendment isn’t simply about protecting statements that everyone agrees with. It’s about protecting the unpopular and perhaps even offensive statements and views that some people have (I know I’m almost quoting someone on this topic, but I’m too tired to look it up). Whenever I see this happen, where someone speaks their mind and end up pummeled by the politically correct masses, it makes me wonder if I should just give up on freedom of speech. It’s a thing that everyone says they want – but in truth, no, they really don’t. Mencken once said something about Democracy is the theory that people know the kind of government they want, and they deserve to get it good and hard. It pains me to think he’s right.

      [1] okay, maybe it’s an issue with government employees.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The first amendment is about protecting unpopular speech from government restriction. In other words, the tweeter in this case won’t be jailed or fined for her statements, but there’s no protection from other consequences, such as public disgust, firing, etc.

        1. Something Professional*

          Something I’ve always been curious about… Because the 1st Amendment applies to the government but not private employers, do government employees have more protection in cases like this than private employees? If the woman in question had worked at, say, the IRS instead of Regal Cinemas, would they have a harder time firing her? Could she claim being fired from a government job was government action?

          1. Sam*

            Yes. There have been Supreme Court decisions on exactly this point.

            It doesn’t mean that government employers have no ability to fire someone who is, say, causing disruptions at work via “speech”, but government employees have more protection from being fired for speech outside of work than private employees do.

            1. fposte*

              In fact, my state employer years ago got sued (and lost) by the ACLU for telling employees they couldn’t talk about a controversial matter.

          2. AnotherFed*

            But at the same time, no, because we’re more restricted in certain areas by virtue of representing the government. Even when doing things off the clock, if there’s any doubt that statements were made by a government employee as an employee vs. just another person, the employee is at a minimum in trouble and may even have broken legal restrictions. It’s especially bad if it’s tied to election campaigning somehow.

        2. 266e Source of Uncertainty*

          I know that the 1st amendment is, strictly speaking, supposed to keep the government in line. But I would argue that in America, there is a general assumption that people have – or should have – the freedom to voice their opinions without fear of being burned at the stake by some angry mob. I remember Nazis holding parades in Skokie, IL. A lot of people weren’t happy about it – but the police showed up to discourage rock throwing etc.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Well, that’s not a good assumption. Freedom of speech does not and should never mean that we don’t as society hold people accountable for the statements that they make. Sure, people can take it too far, but that’s not argument against consequences. As far as violent consequences, in this example, I’m assuming you’re just using hyperbole because it’s far, far more likely that a black American would be the victim of mob violence than a white women spewing racial hate online.

          2. Natalie*

            “Internet mob” is metaphorical. No one is actually getting lynched for expressing their shitty racist opinions.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Yes, exactly. There are groups out there who try to cause physical harm to people who say things online they don’t like, but it’s not the case for the vast majority of internet mob members.

              I’m with fposte that Internet justice isn’t always justice, but I find it ironic that we’re talking about violent reactions to racist tweets when it’s usually the target of the tweets who suffer the violence.

          3. Gandalf the Nude*

            If those Nazis’ employers had seen them in that parade, they would have been well within their rights–and wise–to fire them because that’s not the kind of person anyone should want representing their business. And the police were there to prevent literal rock throwing, burning at the stake, and other acts of violence, NOT the response of counter-opinions and dissent. If they had tried to silence the anti-Nazis or had not protected the Nazis from violence, that would verge into First Amendment-violating territory as they, a government entity, would be restricting free speech. It’s not a particularly good example for your argument of a freedom beyond the one actually granted by the law. And the general assumption you describe is false, regardless of how widespread it is, and usually stems from a misunderstanding about the legal protection of free speech.

            Someone voicing an opinion on Twitter or anywhere else should be prepared for other people to voice their opinions in response, and yes, sometimes that will be A LOT of people, especially when the opinion expressed is as unpopular as this one. The world is not an echo chamber. Anyone who wants to say what they want with no possibility of response should get a diary. Freedom of speech applies to everyone, including the folks who disagree. As long as that statement, speech, opinion, or response isn’t accompanied by another illegal action (and I’m including violence and threats of violence here), you should support their right to say it.

            1. Gandalf the Nude*

              Ugh, I accidentally a couple of words in the parentheses. Amend to say “I’m -not just- including violence and threats of violence here.”

          4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            It’s really not true.

            There is 0, zero, zilch and nada protection against negative social repercussions about any statements you make. The first amendment has no application to anything other than government actions.

            There is some protection against employment repercussions, but only as laid out in other laws.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              p.s. and this is important because people should not have an expectation of protection from negative social repercussions.

              You say it, you own it.

            2. Helka*


              The negative social repercussions come from other people’s right of free speech. You don’t get to silence your critics or cry out for them to be censored.

          5. Elsajeni*

            But the consequence we’re talking about isn’t burning at the stake, it’s people who find your (general you) opinion offensive exercising their own right to free speech to tell you so. The girl who posted those tweets is protected from violence and from government reprisal; she is not protected from other people saying “Wow, you’re a racist jerk! Hey everyone, did you see how big a racist jerk this person is?”, even if there are lots of them and they say it very loudly.

            1. fposte*

              Though here it’s not that they told her, it’s that they told her employer. Which I’m okay with (I’m pretty sure, anyway), but it’s not quite the same thing.

              1. Kyrielle*

                What’s the rule? “Don’t post it on the internet if you don’t want everyone, including your mother, to see it”? Substitute “your employer” for your mother and it’s true.

                I have no objection to people telling employers that their employee said something offensive. I do hope that the employer will act or not act based on their policies and what was said, not on the number of complaints alone (that is, I hope they would stand behind an employee whose off-hours words didn’t violate any of the company expectations, even if they ticked off a lot of people), but I don’t see anything wrong with them being told.

                I’m not sure how I feel if it was a protected post, rather than public; the rule still applies but is more questionable, since the employer maybe couldn’t have seen it without help (whether or not they did). I’m ambivalent there. (Then again, it’s harder to verify, which might handle the situation on its own anyway.)

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Yes, anyone could see it. And another employee could have seen it and shown it to them–especially if her picture and name were on it.

                  I agree with others that harassment and rape/death threats are out of line, however. I seem to see death threats and other extreme views being a knee-jerk reaction to everything these days. Whenever I read news stories, there’s always someone in comments saying kill them, ban them forever, or other gross reactions (gross in the unattractively-large-or-bloated sense).

                2. fposte*

                  Yeah, I’d like to find a rule that doesn’t make victims of revenge porn collateral damage. I mean, pretty much everything we type or snap is on the Internet in one way or another. I think your public posting thing is certainly a good start for a rule.

                3. Kyrielle*

                  I think, fposte, that’s a little different. Getting rid of victims of revenge porn is getting rid of the person who didn’t do it. My interest is in who chose to say it / put it out for the public; if that’s not the person depicted, they are a victim, and I devoutly hope the company policies would acknowledge that and have no interest in firing them.

              2. Elsajeni*

                Yes, that’s true — I intended the “Hey everyone, did you see…?” bit to cover that, but it’s a fair point that directly saying “Hey, Teapots Inc., this person works for you; did you see what a big racist jerk she was on Twitter the other day?” isn’t quite the same as just shouting it into the ether and seeing whether Teapots Inc. picks it up. But like you, I’m still generally okay with that and see it as an exercise of the objector’s right to free speech, rather than an infringement on the Twitterer’s.

          6. Broke Law Student*

            but no one is being burned at the stake. NO ONE IS BEING BURNED AT THE STAKE. This is about an individual publicly tweeting hate speech, her employer finding out, and her employer firing her. We live in a society of virulent racism, and someone who saw those tweets and worked with her or came to that movie theater might have felt anything from discomfort to fear. It’s not unreasonable to fire someone who makes others REASONABLY uncomfortable/afraid because of their intense bigotry. This is not about a mob. Comparing getting a racist fired to an innocent person being burned at the stake is absurd and offensive.

            1. Anna*

              You don’t have to literally be burned at the stake in order to make the point that mob mentality is a bad idea. Are people posting gross racist things on Twitter gross and a problem? Hell yeah. But this isn’t her employer “finding out” in an organic way; this was people seeing the tweet, finding out where she worked, and contacting her employer. What fposte is saying, and what Jon Ronson’s book is about, is that sometimes these things happen without all the information and people are hurt because of it. In this specific case it seems the woman was a complete bigot and she deserved being called out, but a mob is mostly wrong with occasional accidentally getting it right. Mob mentality is exactly what got people burned at the stake. So please take it down a notch. There’s a reason we don’t leave it to the mob to decide punishment and you, as a student of law, should know that.

              1. Absalom*

                “Mob mentality.” You keep using that word.

                What about this situation makes it “mob” activity to you? The fact that many people took issue with what she said? That seems like an inevitability when what she said was so wildly unpopular and inflammatory, and when it was spoken in the wake of a violent racist attack when people’s emotions were particularly raw.

                I’m not a fan of pile-ons on the internet, I think they can get out of control and lead to threats and self-replicating behavior that takes on a life of its own. If anyone actually was threatened or stalked in this instance, I deplore it.

                But in this, case a mob did not “find out” where she worked. Someone pointed out that her words could be linked with her employer’s views, and she responded by telling them she worked for Regal, and “even took pictures of minority movie goers urging them to ‘go home.'” (Quoting an article.) She’s the one who erased the difference between her real professional identity and her comments on Twitter.

                Would it have been a “mob” to you if only a tiny handful of people had taken umbrage with what she said? If one person had quietly alerted the company she worked for that she was spewing hate and linking it to their name? Is it the numbers that make something a mob, or the fact that someone contacted her company? Why is this a mob, and how is any collective reaction to hateful speech on the internet that ends in a firing not a “mob” by your standards?

                1. Anna*

                  I spend a lot of time on Twitter and I have seen the mob mentality at work. I’ve also followed along to see the outcomes of that mentality. As I’ve said many times, the Internet mobs tend to scatter shot their approach and hope to hit the right target. More often they do not. Sometimes they get it right, but more often than not they don’t. That is not something that should be encouraged. Read fposte’s posts about it. Perhaps you don’t see the connection here, but I do because those connections exist.

              2. Broke Law Student*

                Sure, taking it down a notch (whatever that means). The mob didn’t “decide” the punishment; several people reported the tweets to her employer. IF we were talking about people publicly posting her address and/or sending her death threats, something along those lines, I would totally agree with you! But they just reported incredibly racist and offensive things to her employer, and her employer decided to fire her because of those things–if there was a misunderstanding, she could have explained it. As a student of law, I understand the difference between showing someone something bigoted and hateful posted on public social media and a mob.

                1. Anna*

                  What it means is you don’t have to shout and perhaps you’re taking metaphors a little too seriously. It’s called an expression.

                  My point, as I said above and over and over and over, is that the mob does exist on the Internet. The mob mentality exists too and if you don’t think it does, I wonder how much time you’ve spent on any social media. It happens frequently. The mob got it right with this person, but that is not often the case and the idea that as soon as you point something out you are no longer responsible for the consequences is a cop out. If you’re going to participate in mob justice, you should want to own the outcome, too…As long as you get it right. How many people are standing up and saying they helped get Justine Sacco fired? Not too many, I’d bet, because they got it horribly wrong. Again, the Internet got it right in this specific case, but that doesn’t mean this should be taken as a sign that Internet justice is a good idea every time.

          7. Zillah*

            It’s not “strictly speaking” supposed to keep the government in line. It’s just supposed to keep the government in line, period.

            Here’s the thing: people aren’t being protected from having rocks thrown at them (or being burned at the stake, I guess) because they’re exercising “their right” to freedom of speech. They’re being protected because it’s always illegal to assault people or burn them at the stake. The police should protect everyone from being assaulted or burned at the stake. It doesn’t always work that way, unfortunately, but that is what should be happening.

      2. Laurel Gray*

        “Whenever I see this happen, where someone speaks their mind and end up pummeled by the politically correct masses, it makes me wonder if I should just give up on freedom of speech.”

        Are you saying that being opposed to racism and racist remarks is political correctness?

        And freedom of speech is “the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint” (Dictionary dot com). That tweeter, along with the many deplorable racists in America, have the right (and do!) to express their racist opinions without censorship or restraint and they do just that. Regal Cinemas choosing to fire her did not take anything away from her freedom of speech, they chose to do what they are able to do with what I am assuming is her at will employment.

        1. 266e Source of Uncertainty*

          Are you saying that being opposed to racism and racist remarks is political correctness?

          Umm … Actually, I was more referring to things like David Howard being pushed into resigning from his job for using the word “niggardly”. Or Bill Maher losing his job for making the observation that the 9/11 terrorists were all kinds of bad, but they weren’t cowards. Or the researchers who were vilified for presenting evidence that, from an evolutionary perspective, rape may have some overall positive effect on the human bloodline. Or the Rind, Bauserman, & Tromovich meta-study on childhood sexual abuse that indicated that, on average, the damage done to children from such incidents tends to be very small.

          But now that you mention it – yes, being opposed to racist remarks does indeed fall under the umbrella of political correctness. It’s the safe, easy, non-controversial position that keeps you safely hidden in the herd. It requires minimal critical thought. And, honestly, I think it turns people into hypocrites. I’m sure there is no shortage of people who bravely post their anti-racist views to the ‘net, then log out and crack open a beer and go hang out with the guys and listen to the latest Eminem CD.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s the safe, easy, non-controversial position that keeps you safely hidden in the herd. It requires minimal critical thought.

            I could not disagree more strongly and am actually pretty shocked by that statement. I have no idea how you could draw that conclusion. I don’t even know how to respond to it, since it’s so patently wrong on its face.

          2. Natalie*

            “their anti-racist views to the ‘net, then log out … listen to the latest Eminem CD.”

            Curious how the one disproves the other. (Also, Eminem is still around? Huh.)

          3. Elizabeth West*

            But now that you mention it – yes, being opposed to racist remarks does indeed fall under the umbrella of political correctness.

            From Wikipedia: Political correctness (adjectivally, politically correct, commonly abbreviated to PC) is a pejorativeterm used to condemn language, actions, or policies seen as being excessively calculated to not offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society.

            I do not think that word means what you think it means.

            1. Tinker*

              Following the usual substitution: yes, being opposed to racist remarks does indeed fall under the umbrella of basic politeness. Yep, still works. :D

              1. Gandalf the Nude*

                Thank you. I have never ever understood why so-called political correctness was considered a bad thing. What is so wrong about consciously respecting, supporting, and sparing the feelings of those who have been historically marginalized?

          4. Zillah*

            It’s the safe, easy, non-controversial position that keeps you safely hidden in the herd. It requires minimal critical thought. And, honestly, I think it turns people into hypocrites. I’m sure there is no shortage of people who bravely post their anti-racist views to the ‘net, then log out and crack open a beer and go hang out with the guys and listen to the latest Eminem CD.

            I agree that there are many people who will post anti-racist (or feminist, etc, etc) things online or say them in a public setting and then say or do racist, misogynist, etc, etc things in private – though I also think that there are many settings in which calling people on prejudice is not a “safe” point of view, and it’s important to acknowledge that.

            But where I really differ from you is how I interpret that discrepancy. I think that it’s a very unfortunate fact that many people will say or do prejudiced things even when they are consciously opposed to it. Many people who are opposed to racism still say things like “What are you?” or hold black applicants to a higher standard, and many people who are opposed to sexism still call women things like “bossy”/”pushy” or offer women a lower starting salary than men. Maybe some of that is hypocrisy, but I’d argue that a lot of it is the way -isms tend to seep into our perceptions of the world even though we don’t want them to and aren’t aware of it. That’s a problem, but it’s a far different problem from what you’re describing, and I would argue that trying to overcome it requires a great deal of critical thought and humility.

            And, in addition to that, I’d argue that while it’s problematic to have people consciously say anti-racist (etc, etc) things in public while saying different things in private, and while it does make them hypocrites, I still think that that’s far preferable to the alternative, which is them saying racist (etc, etc) things in public. What people say in public helps to shape our society and define what we all agree to be offensive – and even if they’re still saying racist (etc, etc) things in private, I think that condemnation for public statements is taking us down the right path, albeit not as far and more slowly than I’d like.

      3. A Dispatcher*

        Freedom of Speech =/= Freedom from consequences

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”

        That’s it. Have all the unpopular opinions you want, but your right to express them goes hand in hand with my right to be upset by them. That is what is protected, BOTH of our rights to speech/opinion without government interference.

        1. Vladimir*

          I absolutly agree with that. And when one expresses an opinions in public sphere one should be prepared for criticism. But trying to destroy people lives and issuing threats is completly different animal. And I must admit I absolutly hate various racist, sexist IR homophobic comments and take utter dislike to people saying them, even then I do not wish for these people to be hounded by the interne

          1. A Dispatcher*

            Oh absolutely – something about the internet (I’m sure the anonymity as well as easy access to a “mob”) makes people turn into crazies who will jump on someone for the smallest of infractions. I totally agree with what you were saying, and basically agree with 266e, the 1st Amendment/Freedom of Speech thing is just a huge pet peeve of mine. So, so many people misunderstand it, and use it as a defense when people are justly fired/reprimanded/called out for their speech or actions. For instance, had the employer found these tweets on their own and fired her, even without any of the internet mob business, many people would still argue against her firing citing she should be protected by “Freedom of Speech”.

            1. NJ anon*

              But something about the internet makes people turn in to crazies who spew racist, hateful comments. If you can’t take it, don’t say it.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I agree with this as well. It’s one thing to say, “Hey, you’re wrong, and you’re a jerk for saying that, and I’m going to unfriend you/block you because your comments make me really angry.” It’s another thing to threaten someone with bodily harm because their comments make you angry.

            I wrote a blog post about this–it centered on the Occupy protests, but it applies here as well. I basically said, “When you pee in the street, people stop listening to you.” When your actions escalate to harmful , unhealthful, or dangerous proportions, then it doesn’t matter how altruistic your message is. No one will hear you–all they’ll remember is that you peed in the street, or threw rocks and broke a window (or hit someone), or said someone should die for saying something you didn’t agree with.

        2. Chuchundra*

          Freedom of speech is a greater principle than the one enshrined in the first amendment. It doesn’t begin and end with threat or lack thereof of being incarcerated for what you’ve said. There is the the idea that in a free society people should be able to speak their minds and engage in public discussion in reasonable safety and security.

          If I can’t express an unpopular opinion without fearing that I could lose my job, that creates a chilling effect on what can be said and discussed and it harms the whole concept of an open public discourse and a free exchange of ideas.

          1. A Dispatcher*

            Very valid point! It’s a slippery slope though. Where do we draw the line as to what kind of speech would cause a justified firing though? Does it matter if Bob said it to 1 person, whereas Suzy said it to 1,000? What if Bob’s unpopular opinion is about the group of people he directly works with and would seriously alienate and offend them, whereas Suzy’s does not? If one is the public face of a cooperation and the other is not?

            I suppose (in my opinion anyway), the line is a bit like Justice Stewart’s quote about pornography/obscenity (to paraphrase: I can’t define it – but I know it when I see it). Everyone’s line is a bit different, but there has to be one.

          2. Apollo Warbucks*

            There is a massive difference between an unpopular opinion expressed in the interests of having a meaningful conversation and espousing offensive racist opinions, and I can not see the tweets we are talking about are a genuine good faith effort to talk about race or immigration in a serious manner.

            People have the right to say and think whatever they like, but that does not mean their freedom of thought and expression is absolute and free from the consequences of their actions.

          3. Allison*

            Expressing an “unpopular opinion” is one thing, spewing hate speech is another. And the Supreme Court has rule that hate speech isn’t even protected by the 1st Amendment.

            I get blasted online for expressing my opinion too, even progressive opinions, when they’re not espoused by the very vocal people I’m connected with on Facebook whom I swear to God have nothing better to do than going around and picking fights with people they don’t agree with on social media. I’ve come to realize that someone may turn a status or link I post into an infuriating “discussion” and I have to either decide, is what I want to post worth it? Sometimes it is, but I still hide it from the antagonistic jerks, in order to preserve my own sanity.

            Some opinions are best saved for private conversations.

            1. Mpls*

              Uh, no. Hate speech is not a legally recognized concept.

              See the Volokh post on it at the Washington Post.

                1. Natalie*

                  Sort of, but not really. There are no stand-alone hate crimes (in the US). What people usually refer to as hate crimes are actions that are already illegal, and because they can be shown to have been caused by bias a sentencing enhancement can be attached. It’s similar to sentencing enhancements for using a weapon, or involving a minor.

          4. I'll think of something later*

            As someone who believes that free speech is necessary for democracy, I struggle with this too. However, I think time, place, and manner are important considerations. If you (general you, not you personally) want to express unpopular views the time, place, and manner for expressing them is probably not your very public Twitter account. If you’re expressing an unpopular view that you think deserves to be heard but you fear will get you fired for it, you probably need more than 140 characters to consider it a contribution to a free exchange of ideas. Twitter is just not the place or manner for open public discourse, especially ones on sensitive subjects.

            At the same time, I worry about the chilling effect of over exaggerated consequences of offensive tweets. People have their lives ruined because of one moment of poor judgement. The internet pats itself on the back for the justice it brought and then moves on the the next infraction while immediately forgetting all about the last one. Meanwhile that moment ruins the offender’s life and even years later they are still haunted by that one tweet or comment that momentarily offended the internet.

            1. Kate M*

              I understand the worry, and I know it sucks for people to lose their jobs over one mistake. But for generations, people have been able to say racist, sexist, homophobic things with no consequence, simply because it was an accepted part of society. In order to change our society, we are going to have to make it clear that these kinds of things are unacceptable. I have a lot more sympathy for the victims of racism, sexism, and homophobia than I do the people who espouse it. Protecting them is a much higher priority, to me.

            2. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

              Often times when I hear people talk about “lives being ruined” I often think to myself that many of those people will still land on their feet whether it’s because they capitalize on their “15 minutes of fame” or because there are other people who privately or publicly share their beliefs that are business owners or in positions of power that will and do take care of “their own”. In this case, the words “their own” refers to people that share the same views or opinions.

              In a country (U.S.) where minorities can and are often eliminated from job contention simply because of their name (Joe vs Jose), I have less sympathy for those whose “lives are being ruined” because at the end of the day, you still have control over what comes out of your mouth.

              1. Gooseberry Yogurt*

                Thank you! I have been waiting for someone to pick up on the absurdity of the “they ruined this woman’s life!” argument. The kind of thinking this woman espouses and the racist systems it props up have ruined millions of lives and show no sign of stopping. Forgive me if I don’t shed a tear for her.

                1. zora*

                  have ruined millions of lives and show no sign of stopping.

                  In more irreversible ways than just losing one job.

          5. Natalie*

            While I understand the logic of this argument on its face, without context, I’m troubled by it in practice. We have literally never lived in a society without such a chilling effect – for most of our history, losing your job was probably the *best* possible outcome for expressing unpopular opinions such as civil rights activism (or even just the unpopular opinion of “I can step out of my ‘place'”).

            If we’ve successfully shifted the unpopular opinion in question to nasty racism comments, and the chilling effect to maybe losing their job (if the comments are extreme enough, and if they’re public, and if people take notice, and, and, and) I guess I don’t consider that the death knell of free expression. It seems about as free as we could possibly get without absolutely no negative repercussions for any speech, and I just don’t see how that’s going to happen.

      4. Vladimir*

        Well it should be ponited out that poltically incorrect are at least as agressive and sometimes more. Internet attacks are not only connected with politically correct people.

        1. some1*

          I’m so sick of the idea that calling out racism, bigotry, inequality and injustice is just being “politically correct”. It’s not. It’s being a decent human being.

          1. Xay*


            It makes me wonder how people feel about the organized boycott of Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers. Am I required to spend my money supporting hate speech too?

      5. Sarahnova*

        Can we really call something “doxxing” when someone is using their real name and photo?

        1. TheVet*

          Real name, real photo and REAL JOB! She put all the info out there and people used it. Regal simply decided that they didn’t want her to represent them. Now she’s free to sit at home and spew her idiocy to all of twitter.

          Do people sincerely believe that the bigot switch is turned off the moment you step into a workplace? Like, I’m a blazing racist online, but those views do not influence my behavior toward my colleagues/customers/clients/patients/employees/potential employees. :angel emoji:

        2. Ad Astra*

          Can’t we? My Twitter uses my real name and photo, but if someone was upset with what I said and decided to publicize my home address, workplace, etc., wouldn’t that be doxxing?

          I’m not sure that the Regal employee was doxxed, because it may have been very obvious who she worked for. But being open about your identity doesn’t preclude you from doxxing, as I understand the term. Maybe I’m wrong.

          1. Helen of What*

            It was obvious because she posted a photo of herself in a regal Cinemas uniform, inside the ticket box office. I hope no one posted her home address/phone/other personal info, but she basically outed herself as a bigot to her employer.

          2. Cactus*

            If they were publishing info like her home address, phone number(s), the license plate of her car, private e-mail addresses that she hadn’t announced to Twitter…then that would be Doxxing. Only making use of the information she gives out freely doesn’t.

      6. A. Nonny Hampster*

        Freedom of Speech =/= freedom from consequences. You can be a racist turd all you want, but there’s nothing that prevents anyone else from exercising THEIR freedom of speech to point out exactly how much of a stain on humanity you are.

      7. Xay*

        So you are a big fan of freedom of speech except when it comes to other people expressing how they feel and responding to other people’s speech? It’s ok to use openly racist speech, but it’s not ok for me to voice my disagreement and organize people around opposing said speech?

        1. Kelly L.*

          I saw a tweet a few years ago that said “Someone telling you they disagree with your speech is not censorship. It’s speech.” I wish I remember where I got it, but my twitter got hacked and I deleted it ages ago.

    3. AnotherFed*

      Well said. Employers have every right to make employment decisions based on how employees represent their company, even when off the clock. However, the way to combat intolerance, ignorance, and hate is not by making threats or insults!

      One example that always makes me go WTF?? is when people arguing in favor of restrictive gun laws (or at least against orgs like the NRA) say people who don’t agree should get shot.

      1. Vladimir*

        Good example. It is reálky ironic. What is saddest is that not only people Hugh expressing stupid or awful comments are attacked (which is sad enough itself) but also people who did nothink wrong – like the graduate student I mentioned, Chad Evans victim or McCanns – get the same and sometimes worser attacks.

    4. AnonAnalyst*

      I agree with this. I don’t blame the employer for firing her once they were informed, but the vigilante thing bothers me. I’m not comfortable with the idea that it’s justified to dig into someone’s profile to try to get them punished for posting something on the internet, however terrible it may be.

      And it seems like these kinds of things follow people for some time, so they’ll probably have trouble finding other jobs as well possibly suffer other social or public consequences. I guess I’m just not really sure that’s justice. I’ve seen a couple of recommendations for Jon Ronson’s “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” which I think I’ll pick up to try to unpack this a little more in my own mind.

      1. fposte*

        It’s an interesting book. I liked that it started with his own experience of being on the public shamer side, when he’d been wronged and posted the video to YouTube, and moved swiftly from “Hey, everybody thinks I’m right and this is going to help me fix this!” to “Holy crap, these people are out of control!”

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I’ve added it to my wishlist. I think I read an excerpt in The Week, and it sounds very interesting.

  9. Grey*

    While I agree with the response to #1, I’m not sure it answers the question that was asked. Was it right of the tweeters to make her get fired?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They didn’t get her fired. They drew her employer’s attention to disgusting statements she was making in a public forum. Her own actions got her fired. Actions have consequences, especially when you choose to spout hateful statements in public.

      1. Juli G.*

        Exactly! I think this is what some people are missing. I know we often lament the lack of employee rights in the US but I do strongly believe that employers should have the right to chose who is representing them.

      2. Anna*

        Agreed, however there have been plenty of examples of people ganging up on someone and getting it wrong. I think we’re actually dealing with two different things. One, is it okay for an employer to fire someone over racist and hateful speech? Yes. Two, is it a good idea for the public in general to gather together and call out racist and hateful speech? Yes, as long as they aren’t missing a huge part of the context and aren’t jumping to conclusions that could inadvertently hurt someone who was actually not doing or saying the things they were accused of doing or saying. See: any number of examples.

        1. zora*

          Oh, good. I didn’t think to separate them like that, I think you might be on the right track.

        2. Natalie*

          And, tying those two together: if you are going to fire someone for something they said on the internet, make sure the report you got is accurate and in context.

      3. Grey*

        I’m not missing the point. I know her own actions got her fired. I was just pointing out that the OP didn’t ask if the firing was justified. The OP asked if the tweeters behaved appropriately.

        In other words, should you alert the bosses? Or, should you just leave it alone and leave them to discover this on their own? That’s the question that wasn’t answered.

  10. Francis*

    5) I’d say that is pretty standard, no matter what industry you’re working in. As a manager, I constantly keep track of who’s working what hours so I can avoid overtime. Usually, I save overtime for exceptional employees under dire circumstances.

  11. A Dispatcher*

    #1: I wonder, is it a super fancy espresso/cappuccino type machine? I mean if someone brought one of those into work I’d be all over that, even if I had to pay. The cost in the post is a bit much (nearing what you’s pay at a coffee shop anyway) though… Then again I work in government and we have to pay for our coffee (and even the machines, regular and Keurig, came out of our employee-donated funds), whereas I think most offices have it as a free perk, so maybe I’m more used to this than most.

    HOWEVER, the way the letter reads, it almost seems like he is taking the time to brew other people’s coffees and then charging them, versus just letting people use the machine and leave money like how that normally works. I’d most definitely be giving the side-eye to a coworker who was also moonlighting as a barista on the clock.

    1. Something Professional*

      Yes, I have a hard time imagining anyone agreeing to pay £1.50 for a cup of Folger’s out of someone’s Mr. Coffee… So I’m thinking you’re right and it’s an espresso machine, in which case I could see the time being more of an issue than the money.

    2. Excel Slayer*

      You know, I didn’t think of that. If the coworker is making the OP’s life difficult because OP has to do more work or can’t get stuff done without coffeemaker’s input then that would be a major annoyance.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Actually, fancy coffee makers can be really LOUD, so it could be an annoyance that way too. Although, the OP didn’t mention that, so maybe it’s just the time spent making the coffees.

    3. Sunshine Brite*

      Agreed. Even if it wasn’t an espresso machine, I have a coffeemaker that would be at least 25 cups from participants to cover the cost and that’s not including any coffee, cups, cream/sugar, etc. It’s nice but not high grade by any means. The cost itself is probably just to dissuade others from using it so it lasts longer.

      1. teclagwig*

        This is what I was thinking. While it is possible this co-worker decided to moonlight, it seems very likely that the charge was meant to limit usage of the machine and/or cover cost of supplies and nuisance of having to shop for them more often and possibly find place to store them at home after purchase.

  12. Merry and Bright*

    On #1, I know this might come across as a bit flippant but I might be tempted to start a rival coffee enterprise and undercut the other guy.

    On the other hand, it might spark an Office Coffee War and lead to another AAM thread.

  13. Excel Slayer*

    #1: Just a thought. Since it sounds like you’re in the UK, it’s pretty likely the coffee machine is going to need PAT testing.

    Although honestly I’d let it slide. It just sounds irritating rather than a major issue.

      1. Excel Slayer*

        In my company if you leave your phone charger in while the PAT people are over you’ll come back to find a nice shiny sticker on it. I guess they’re just doing their job thoroughly, but it never fails to amuse.

          1. Excel Slayer*

            There’s a team of people called Pat who roam the UK, testing electrical appliances ;)

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      1. I was also about to comment that surely he needs some sort of license/trading/pedlar’s certificate. I’m not sure which one is needed for trading within an office. The office may also need to change its status/planning since it could now be considered an eating/take out establishment. Also, it’s food/drink so he’d need a food hygiene certificate. I’m not 100% sure on the details. I worked on a market coffee stall when I was a teenager and I know there was quite a lot of regulations and stuff we needed.

      On a related note, £1.50 is a HUGE price to charge! When I sold coffee on the market, we sold it for £1 to regulars and £1.30 standard price and it was a proper full on espresso machine. Mcdonald’s sells pretty reasonable espresso based coffee for £1.30-£.60 or so (depending on if it’s a flat white or a latte or whatever). I really can’t see people paying for it unless there is truly no other facilities available. I know I said this already but seriously £1.50 a cup?

      Also, it’s the massively sized price that makes me want to treat this in my mind like it’s a side business and therefore the reason I’m sure he needs to pay tax on it, treat it like a business, get a trader’s license etc. If he was charging like 20p or simply enough to cover the costs of the coffee so he’s not making a loss on the stock then whatever, I’d let it go.

      1. UK Nerd*

        I’m guessing the machine is a Tassimo or similar, in which case the pods may cost well over 20p each. Also, bear in mind the effect of geography. I’d consider £1.50 for a coffee a little pricy in Glasgow but an absolute bargain in London. Where is this market where you can get proper espresso coffee for £1? When I buy a £1 coffee in a market I expect instant.

    2. Felicitas*

      I realise you’re joking, but this is a bit of a hot button issue for me. “PAT testing” in this case, with a coffee machine that is likely to just be sitting there and not be constantly moved around, would basically mean making a quick visual inspection to be sure there are no frayed cables, damage to the plug, etc. Unless, of course, the office has one of those over-the-top policies where every single piece of electrical equipment is formally tested and stickered every year!

      1. Excel Slayer*

        I’m afraid I have one of those crazy companies :(. Trust me, I do understand the frustration (I order electrical stuff for the office as part of my duties and it has to go away to be tested before we even use it, which is more time consuming than the actual order and delivery), which is what prompted the joke.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        Sounds like the old health and safety regs gone mad. Nothing I read about offices surprises me anymore!

  14. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. I was wondering if the high charge was due to Nepresso pads/pods (or similar) which are quite expensive to buy?

  15. Daisy the Second*

    3. It sounds to me like the co-worker is trying to be friendly and the OP just doesn’t like her. ‘With a big, fat, fake “LOL” at the end’ is an unnecessarily nasty way to describe what sounds like a light-hearted message. On the other hand if the co-worker is trying to communicate an actual policy she’s not doing a terribly good job of it, but I still don’t see a reason to try and read malicious motives into it- just tell her you’re happy to do some work and she’ll clarify if she needs to.

    1. Sarahnova*

      Yeah, OP#3, it kind of sounds like you may have reached bitch-eating-crackers stage with this coworker. I would consider “you’re not at work, stop working” to be micromanagement, TBH, although I obviously don’t have the context of your previous relationship with her.

      1. MsM*

        Agreed. A former boss of mine would send me messages like this all the time, and I wish her general management style had been more hands-on. If you’re having a problem with her micromanaging while you’re in the office, talk about it, but I wouldn’t drag this incident into it.

  16. hbc*

    #3: Some pointed out a potential pay issue, which is possible. For some reason, I lean more towards Coworker being annoyed by so many emails in 30 minutes. It sounds like she was getting replies to her own emails while also being copied on new work stuff. If this is an unusual amount of emails, she might have gotten pretty frustrated. “You’re not in the office so I have to get five minute updates over email? No thanks.”

    Or she genuinely meant “It’s healthy to take some time off, seriously, you work too hard, enjoy it.” Like Daisy, I don’t see why that LOL has to be fake.

    1. OP #3*

      I do get paid for the day by my employer. I saw the LOL as fake because it came at the end of a professionally written email that seemed stern to me. I also have been pretty emotional lately so I could be interpreting this wrong, which is the reason the question was asked.

      1. OP #3*

        It should also be noted that I do in fact like my coworker and we get along really well normally. This email came out of left field for me at a time where I’d rather be at work than wasting time doing nothing.

        1. hbc*

          I guess since you have a generally good relationship and there are four or five explanations that involve her being stern for a good reason or not intentionally stern, I would just make sure you don’t lock on to the micromanagement assumption. (Really, that one is a long shot.)

          If you really want to know, I’d ask, “Hey, remember that email about not working on jury duty? Was that about ‘we’re not allowed to’ or ‘now they’ll expect me to work during jury duty’ or ‘stop bugging me with emails’?” Heck, maybe she’ll apologize and say she got 40 emails in 15 minutes and you were the only one she could yell at in a bad moment. Who knows?

          1. OP #3*

            This is a really good suggestion! Thank you! I think I will do that! I want to resolve the issue without making her feel like I’m calling her out for being an ass (which she might not have intended)

      2. Merry and Bright*

        You may be right. Our Chief Exec has just discovered LOL (so it seems) and currently ends all his internal emails and bulletins with it. It does stand out a bit.

      3. NJ anon*

        Sometimes it’s hard to get context in an email. I have emailed a colleague before because he responded while on vacation: STOP READING YOUR EMAIL WHILE ON VACATION!

      4. Daisy the Second*

        But after ‘enjoy jury duty’? That seems like an obvious joke about jury duty being a bit boring. That bit of the email doesn’t sound stern.

    2. Beezus*

      Another perspective on this, too, OP3…I cover other people’s absences quite frequently, and when someone continues to do some of their work and respond to emails while they are out, it actually makes it harder for me to cover, unless we’ve discussed in advance what they’re doing or not doing and when they’ll log out for realsies. I wind up pulling 5 reports to get that analysis done in Donna’s absence, only to come out of my own 10 am meeting to find she’s emailed it to Harvey anyway, and I’ve lost the hour I spent on it this morning, or she’s responding to clients’ requests for meetings, and then Jim Bob Moneybags’s assistant emails to ask urgently for a meeting, and I’m not sure anymore if Donna is on it or if I need to be, or Donna has been replying to emails all morning, so I send her a quick note asking where the files on the Zane Corp merger are, only it turns out she’s finally signed off to nurse her strep throat like she said she was going to two hours ago, but I lose 30 precious minutes waiting for her to respond before I figure something else out. Seriously, dealing with this causes me double the anxiety that the plain old additional workload causes me. It’s better to just log off and give me bat signal if I’m well and truly stuck.

      (I’ve been in your shoes too, don’t think I don’t feel you, though!)

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Aside from this, if the work OP3 does is in any way confidential, you never know who is taking a peek over your shoulder and what they might see. I’ve sat on planes next to or near someone who is working on a sales pitch deck and I’ve been all “Oh, they work for X company… that slide could use some work… No! don’t use spaces like that!” in my mind until I give myself a shake and get back to watching the movie or having a nap. I have a pretty strict I don’t work on planes rule in part because it is sometimes the only time I get a rest (and sleep) and also because I can’t risk someone potentially seeing what I’m working on, getting nosy, asking questions. Also, my laptop is enormous and doesn’t fit on a tray table. If you want me to work on the flight, you’re going to have to book me into first or business… what? No budget for that? Awww…

  17. Sandy*

    The first case reminds me of a case that recently happened in Canada., the FHRITP case.

    Basically, a man who made some hugely inappropriate comments to a female television reporter was later fired by his company after they saw the video (I believe prompted by social media)

    A lot of questions were raised in the debate about his case, primarily because he wasn’t working when he made the comments that he did.

    Link to follow in the next comment.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      And, that case was complicated by the fact that the man in question was a public employee of Hydro One (I think), which is Ontario’s publically-owned electricity company. Hydro One came down on exactly the same justification as Alison: they didn’t want someone with such egregiously poor judgment on staff who would stand beside a TV news reporter shouting “F**k her right in the p***y!”

      Another decision, like this one, that I was totally OK with.

      1. the_scientist*

        That one was interesting because 1) the guy who got fired didn’t actually yell FHRITP at the reporter- he just defended the guy who DID yell it, telling the reporter it was “f*cking hilarious” and that his mom would “die laughing, eventually” once she got the joke, when the reporter asked him what his mother would think. Further, he told the reporter “she’s lucky she didn’t have a vibrator stuffed in her ear, like in England”, which is creepy, bizarre, and vaguely threatening. The guys who actually yelled it faced less significant less backlash because they sheepishly mumbled an apology and slunk off.

        He was also obviously intoxicated, so I suppose you could argue that he wasn’t totally in control of his inhibitions, etc. etc.

        However, I’m a public sector employee in Ontario. Public sector employees here are paid VERY generously (this guy’s salary was >$100 000) and have excellent job security, pensions, and benefits (now, Hydro One is being sold to a private company so this could all change in the future). Public sector employees also have to take the “oath of public service” when they start working to really drive the point home that you are a public servant, steward of public funds etc. At the end of the day, this guy chose to appear on TV harassing a female reporter and making vague sexual threats towards her (see the vibrator in ear comment)…….the government simply cannot have an employee who publicly espouses gross, misogynist ideals especially when he does so ON LIVE TELEVISION, with his face clearly visible, and then who doubles down on those views when called to the carpet.

        1. Book Person*

          Exactly. It’s MORE than reasonable for a company not to want to continue to employ someone who thinks it’s funny to sexually harass a woman at work. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly Hydro One responded.

  18. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    Response to #2:

    I’m pretty glad this person got fired. Her words and actions got her fired. Not the people who sent the info to her employer.

    I’ve read the comments, and a few things jumped out to me. Someone compared this “outing” to outing LGBT people and I just… I can’t even. This is so not on the same scale. Hate speech is hate speech, and I don’t think “being” LGBT would warrant the same level of “outing” . I don’t even know how to express my POV without going mad, actually.

    I also read that we should “let go” and blah de blah, or that we should “ignore it” . Well, you know what ? I am friggin TIRED of being told to “ignore” stuff. Racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism (etc, etc) are PROBLEMS. Problems that kill people. Problems that have killed a LOT of people in the US alone.

    Yes, this is the internet. But you know what ? People don’t react or change unless you touch on something that they value. You’d think people would value their jobs enough to avoid spewing their hate speech in public, but apparently some aren’t even intelligent enough for that. This person’s tweets were noticed enough that she ended up being fired ? Good for the company who won’t “participate” in that.

    I’m tired of being told to “ignore” it. The situation is bad. I try to spread awareness as much as I can, and while I am against personal harassment (for example, I wouldn’t go and stalk the racist tweeter person and insult her or send her threats) I see nothing wrong with what happened.

    I’m a rather mild social justice warrior (I’d like to take back the phrase and make it positive haha) but I’ve decided to be one. I don’t have the money or other resources to change laws, so I’ll just act where I can. I’d call that a fight, but I’m a peaceful person so… I’ll just say the “awareness campaign” begins.

    We don’t have to ignore it if we all gather to work on it :)

    1. De (Germany)*

      “I also read that we should “let go” and blah de blah, or that we should “ignore it” .”

      I really wonder whether these people would say that if the person’s boss was black. Should they just ignore their employee’s racism? Or if that person was a supervisor and had black subordinates. This is not just an academic discussion – racial/sexist/etc prejudice can easily carry over into the work setting.

      That “social justice warrior” and “political correctness” are used as insults is pretty bad, by the way. So I want social justice – how is that bad?

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

        Hence why I’m stealing that “Social Justice Warrior” phrase and making it “my own” . Hell yeah I’ll be a social justice warrior… not the kind to jump on anyone who says anything ignorant, but the kind to notice, point it out, and other “stuff” .

        I’m as mild as mild can be, but still. SJW FTW.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      Agreed, I think someone should be fired for ignorant words and actions that isolate others and definitely fall into hate categories. It’s harder with coded language and I feel there’s a lot of room for education.

      The rape and death threats that go along with these cases are unwarranted and social media and law enforcement need to get better at addressing them.

      I feel like a lot of these cases have to go along with general privilege. It’s easier to ignore it if it doesn’t affect you directly, anyone with your historical background, if you have other privileges, etc.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      + 1 I agree with your post so much.

      It’s far to easy to say ignore it when your not the target of the abuse nobody should have to listen to Racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism of any other stupid ill-informed bigotry and people shouldn’t have to listen to it even if they are not the target of the abuse.

      This is one of the most powerful poems I remember from school:

      First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Socialist.
      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Jew.
      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

      Everyone deserves to be left alone and not harassed but as it seems being tolerant and accepting of other is to much to ask of some people so until it changes I’m with you on the awareness campaign.

    4. Helka*

      This, a million times this.

      Somehow, it seems like people always want to put the burden on the people who are the victims of hate speech to ignore and suffer in silence. “Ignore it, rise above it, don’t let it get to you, words can’t hurt you” etc etc. Well guess what — words in public discourse shape opinions and actions. They’re not sitting there in a little bubble of consequence-free noise. People who loudly and vocally advocate for hatred and discrimination will fuel others to act on that advocacy, and that’s how we get tragedies like the massacre in Charleston.

    5. Mints*

      It seems like people in positions of privilege forget that people of color (in this case – but also gay people, women, etc etc) actually exist. Saying racist stuff isn’t a thought exercise you get to by yourself in your imagination. You can talk about the discrimination of hobbits all you want. But real actual living breathing black people see this shit on twitter and get reminded that strangers will hate them based on nothing but race. Black people actually exist, and they see that hate. Black people also go to the movies, and work in movie theaters. Actually, fun fact, Hispanic people tend to over-represent in movie going, so being anti racist actually makes good business sense.

      Lastly, I decided to stick my comment here because I liked your “social justice warrior” bit. I saw a joke online that I don’t remember the source of, but it was something like: “Who decides that being a justice warrior is a bad thing? Who looks in the mirror and says ‘I hate justice’? Do you feel like a Batman villain yet?”

      1. Zillah*

        It seems like people in positions of privilege forget that people of color (in this case – but also gay people, women, etc etc) actually exist. Saying racist stuff isn’t a thought exercise you get to by yourself in your imagination.

        Yes, this exactly.

      2. A Definite Beta Guy*

        Something to keep in mind, us CIS heteronormative white male folk do not encounter systematic oppression on a daily basis, and we don’t see the systematic oppression in other people’s lives, either. You see the Inside Out movie yet? We mostly do not have that in the “Core Memory” section.

        So, yeah, a lot of us don’t “notice” people of color, if you mean noticing the systematic oppression against us. It’s not our natural mindset. There’ the guy who we play basketball with, who might happen to Hispanic, there’s the guy across the street, who might happen to be black, and there’s the guy at our book club, who happens to have a live-in boyfriend. We don’t see what they see on a daily basis, and most of us won’t have as strong an emotional reaction to it.

  19. Rebecca*

    #1 My thought is the person charging £1.50 for a cup of coffee is tired of people mooching his coffee, as in, oh, can I just have a warm up, the office machine is still brewing, can I have some of your coffee to tide me over, that sort of thing. He may also work in an office that has decided to install an expensive machine and charge for each cup (see previous posts on this) and is trying to save money. The charge he’s posted is high enough to keep all but the most desperate caffeine seekers away :)

    1. Lisa*

      See I feel this way about candy. Coffee (as in non-keurig coffee), but Maxwell House coffee costs nothing compared to replenishing candy bowls with 20+ people who never chip in, but will eat an entire bag worth of M&Ms in one day EACH. There is a candy money jar, but the freeloaders eating the most never pitch in. The person that eats 4-5 pieces a week will give me $20 a month though.

      Office candy should be paid for by the company if the company is touting it as an office perk.

      1. Rebecca*

        That’s why I keep everything that I bring for work in my drawer, and get out only what I am going to eat. I don’t get paid enough to supply everyone with candy, gum, pistachios, tea, whatever.

        1. A Definite Beta Guy*

          I have had coworkers go through my drawers looking for items. Insane when you think about it. Now I keep a can of coffee (which I never use), some old candy I don’t like, and always, always carry painkillers directly on my person.

          Can’t trust what you can’t see. :(

  20. I am anonymous*

    Re #2 I would have been upset if the company didn’t fire her. I certainly wouldn’t patronize a company that had someone like her on staff.

        1. fposte*

          Sorry, that was a big cryptic, wasn’t it? I’m saying that all of us almost certainly spend money with companies (and utilities) that employ people who adhere to various kinds of bigotry. Unless they tweet about it–or get caught tweeting about it–we just don’t know.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            Absolutely this. I can not stand a couple of UK companies (Primark and Tesco) who’s business practices I strongly disagree with, I avoid shopping with them but I’m sure other companies do similar things just without the publicity.

          2. Anna*

            It’s a race to see how righteously indignant we can be without actually thinking through what we’re saying.

  21. Allison*

    #1, your coworker could’ve easily brought in his coffee maker and not let anyone but him use it! it looks like he realizes it would be unfair to make it off-limits to everyone else, but can’t afford to just give away coffee he pays for. the price may be high, but he may also be factoring in the extra wear and tear.

    while it’s nice when offices provide free coffee, no one should feel obligated to share their coffee (or tea) with others. it can be expensive!

    1. Purple Jello*

      Right – is there any other coffee option in this office? Inquiring minds want to know.

  22. Purr purr purr*

    #1, since the coworker owns the coffee machine, he could charge £15.00 per coffee if he wanted. If anyone doesn’t like his prices, they can get coffee elsewhere. I wonder if he introduced the charges because people were helping themselves and he wants the charge to be a deterrent? That’s what happened to a friend who took her coffee machine in. Now everyone in her office thinks it’s fine to just grab and use whatever they want.

  23. Tagg*

    Alison – I don’t know if you know this, but whenever I try to read or make comments and there’s a video ad on the site, it keeps bumping me up to the ad and I lose my place. I’m currently using Google Chrome on a computer where I’m unable to install ad-block. I’m also apparently unable to pause the video, which is worrying.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      Yay, it’s not just my quirky work computer!

      Yes, having the same problem. When the ad video starts over, it bumps you down to watch it, even if you are holding the mouse down, locking the scrollbar. For me, it appears to be the Starbucks ad video, and I am also using Chrome. And yeah, I was unable to pause mine also, when you click it, the button turns to play like it is paused but the video doesn’t stop.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Oh, but if you reload the page and get the ad to a stationary one, there aren’t any issues. I don’t know if there would be another video ad that would load, so not sure if it’s the actual video player or the specific ad

        1. blu*

          Me too. I just emailed AAM about it. This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered it. I also could not pause the video and refreshing so that a stationary ad came up fixed it for me as well.

  24. ITPuffNStuff*

    #2 — what’s interesting to ask (though we cannot know the answer) is whether Regal fired her because of the racist tweets, or because of the public outrage. or both.

    i would hate to think my job my depend upon my opinions being popular. while i certainly don’t, and won’t, support racism, i have many opinions that are probably fairly controversial. requiring that your opinions be socially popular as a condition of employment isn’t diversity; it’s majority rule. far too many majorities throughout history have been composed primarily of bigots, and i don’t believe we’re somehow magically immune to that today.

    if i state, for example, that i think the way we are currently treating followers of islam in this country deprives them of their basic right to religious freedom, many people would probably label me a terrorist and demand that my company fire me. this sort of bandwagon thinking is deeply disturbing to me.

    if Regal fired this person because their own management believed the tweets were inappropriate, good for them. it was probably the right choice (i say “probably” because i didn’t see the tweets myself, so i can’t say with absolute certainty they were in fact racist). if Regal fired this person to prevent public pressure from negatively influencing the stock price — well, one can’t blame them for responding to their incentives, but it shows you the real power of consumers to squash any opinion they don’t agree with.

    1. LBK*

      I think there’s a huge difference between having a potentially unpopular opinion and expressing that opinion in a clearly hateful or derogatory way. I think a pretty good rule of thumb is that if you’d get fired for saying something while at work, it’s not out of line to fire you for saying it publicly outside of work – while there may be some staunchly conservative workplaces that would fire you for your comments about Islam, most probably wouldn’t, even if they disagreed with you.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I like that way to look at it. Let me think how well it stands up. You couldn’t expand it to behavior, and some comments might be more immediately considered “concerted activity,” but it seems like a pretty decent rule of thumb.

      2. ITPuffNStuff*

        hi LBK, thanks for replying!

        you’re absolutely right that there is a huge difference. the key question, in my opinion, is if a company saw their stock price potentially negatively impacted by public opinion, would they care about that difference?

        1. LBK*

          Depends on the company and the opinion. I’m not naive enough to think that there’s truly no consideration made for the impact to the bottom line when companies take a public stance about an issue, but I think it’s weighed more now vs management’s own opinions than it used to be. I don’t know that most companies are going to endorse a viewpoint that would risk alienating 90% of their audience, but they might do it at 50% – for example, companies that have publicly endorsed gay marriage, which until fairly recently was still the minority opinion.

        2. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

          Sometimes the only way to get a company’s attention to do what is right is through the “almighty” dollar. Whether it is a bus boycott (Montgomery – 1950’s) or the boycott to get a reality-series pulled via pressure on the advertisers (Sorority Sisters – 2014), some causes have learned that voting with your “pocketbook” is in fact the best way to express displeasure.

          1. ITPuffNStuff*

            excellent points Lead! thank you for providing some memorable illustrations of how this can be used as a force for positive social change!

    2. Allison*

      It may have been an image thing, but that might make sense when you think about it. If word gets out that Regal has at least one racist moron working at their theaters, working directly with people all day, I can imagine some people might not want to go to Regal cinemas anymore. Especially if the people know that Regal knows they have a racist person at one of their theaters, how would those people feel if Regal did nothing about it?

      Personally, if an employee of, say, the local Star Market I shop at every week posted something so incredibly sexist that the tweet became viral, I might not want to shop there anymore, at least not while he’s still there. Not because of moral indignation at the idea that not everyone adheres to my viewpoints, but because I wouldn’t feel comfortable there.

      1. ITPuffNStuff*

        i subscribe to the belief that every single man, woman, and child in the world (yep, all 7 billion of us) are both racist and sexist, and those thought patterns are influencing us every day in ways we’re not consciously aware.

        so — the difference between who we label racist/sexist and who we don’t seems to be a matter of degree (how severely biased) and how they express themselves.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Which is why I usually keep my mouth shut and not do much expressing at all. It’s better to just listen than to let people know what I think, as I’m bound to be wrong to some people. And, of course

          Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
          and discerning if they hold their tongues.

      2. Steve G*

        I think image has to do with it, and not only because of the comments. Maybe I’m just conservative, but when I (rarely) put a picture online, its of people smiling or looking generally happy. She has a smirk/tongue sticking out as far as it can go, which to me is a nice way of putting up your middle finger. Who poses like that in normal life? Marilyn Manson? Her pose (which looks like it was taken at work) doesn’t exactly endear people to go to the theater where she will be working.

        1. Allison*

          Pretty much. Posting a picture of yourself sticking out your tongue isn’t generally bad, but to see someone display that attitude at work doesn’t make me want to go to that theater. Believe me, I used to work at a theater, I know how crappy that job is. But when I go to the theater, I’m generally a polite, easy-going customer and I really don’t appreciate people acting like my mere presence in the theater is some awful inconvenience that’s ruining their whole day, and if it looks like that’s the attitude I’m gonna get, I’m gonna go somewhere else.

          1. fposte*

            Right, from a business perspective, we’re talking something that’s now a luxury product with declining revenues. A movie theater would be a fool to publicly tolerate association with behavior that makes people think twice about going.

    3. AnonAnalyst*

      I also wonder whether it was more about disagreeing with the employee’s statements or avoiding the inevitable PR nightmare that would consume the organization (and revenue/stock price hit) if they didn’t fire the employee once they were informed of her statements. I’d like to think it’s because they were appalled at her tweets and didn’t want someone like that in their organization rather than as a result of public pressure, but who knows.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I think these are almost always a PR response. But isn’t that the point of making it a campaign, to create negative PR that forces a company to act? A single email informing them with the link to the tweets would suffice to inform them of their racist staff member. (And making it a PR campaign seems fine to me, at least on first thought; that’s the language companies speak in.)

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          True! In this case, I’m fine with the company making that call for PR reasons, so my response should have been amended to reflect that.

          More broadly, where it bothers me are in cases where it’s less clear cut but the PR pressure is to fire the employee, so the company gives in. It’s also in the company’s best interest to acquiesce to public opinion in those cases, but it sometimes doesn’t feel right to me. But that’s neither here nor there, as it’s up to them, not me, to determine whether it’s best to fight the PR battle in those situations or not…

          1. fposte*

            Right, the bigger public version of the employee who’s fired because a customer made a complaint, regardless of whether the complaint is valid or not. I’m with you in thinking that acquiescing to public opinion isn’t an automatic good.

        2. Natalie*

          It’s essentially a boycott, just online rather than standing in front of the store picketing. Business X is doing something I don’t agree with, so I am not going to give them my money *and tell them* in case they want to change course and get my money again.

          1. fposte*

            I think it’s a similar impulse, but I’d say a picket is different from a boycott and this is different from both of them. If you can do it while sitting in on your sofa at home and losing nothing you’d otherwise buy, it’s a lot easier to do. I could be standing in the lobby of a Regal Cinema eating Regal Cinema popcorn while tweeting she could be fired, and it wouldn’t lessen the effect.

            1. Natalie*

              Sure, absolutely. I’m thinking more about the overall philosophy of “people getting punished for their opinions” rather than the logistics or sacrifice of such a thing.

              That said, while the Internet has made it easier to publicly declare “I’ll never shop at X”, it’s also made it easier for X to fight a boycott, whether that’s from lower overhead, sourcing like-minded customers from around the world, or crowdfunding $800K because some people were mean to you about your bigotry. And I imagine there have always been some people who only boycott things when it’s easy or when they’re in public.

              1. fposte*

                Oh, yes, absolutely. And you’re reminding me that random petitions were a big thing at my university, for instance; they were basically a handwritten equivalent of a cause’s Facebook page garnering likes for something progressive. There are petitions that can change things, but most of these were not that kind. (Somebody parodied the trend by circulating a petition against Bad Things.)

        3. ITPuffNStuff*

          it’s easy to get on board with pressure campaigns of this sort when you agree with the outcome. the problem is, this type of pressure works regardless of whether you like the outcome or not. it frightens me that bandwagons have this level of power, particularly when the bandwagon isn’t well known for prudent choices.

          1. Natalie*

            Haven’t bandwagons always had this level of power, though? It may have been the members of one town, but in eras before easy travel and global communication that town might as well have been the entire internet. The effect on your life was the same.

            1. fposte*

              I think they have had a lot of power, certainly; it’s probably all a matter of scale on both size and chronology, and this is very McLuhanite global village and all. I do think that bandwagons used to be more like hurricanes, taking some time to get going and the impact was longer in duration, and now they’re more like tornadoes, in that they spring up and are gone and everybody else turns theirattention to something else without even realizing that somebody’s house got flattened.

              1. Natalie*

                Agreed, although I’d liken the bandwagon of yesteryear to a drought. Could be short, could be many years and quite literally life ruining, and you don’t know when it starts.

                I have a particular bone to pick with the “kids these days” kind of attitude, which probably makes me a lot more annoyed about how the internet is running amok and RUINING PEOPLE’S LIVES. And yet we don’t generally shun, burn people out of their homes, blacklist them from an entire industry, and so on and so on.

              2. Kelly L.*

                I think in the past, they were more likely to result in actual death for whoever was being ostracized.

      2. ITPuffNStuff*

        this was exactly what i was trying to express. you stated it better than i. thank you!

    4. Cleopatra Jones*

      The thing is…if your statement denigrates, degrades, humiliates or oppresses a protected class of people then it’s no longer an unpopular opinion but hate speech.

      That’s the difference.

      1. fposte*

        Though that’s a social definition in the US, not a legal one, though “protected class” suggests a legal basis.

      2. ITPuffNStuff*

        hi CJ, and thanks for replying!

        my comment was more directed at the unfortunate reality that the same pressure tactics apply, with the same results, even when it’s *not* hate speech.

      3. Anna*

        I think everyone should line up fposte’s posts on this matter to get to what is a balanced explanation on what is good and bad about this situation.

    5. naanie*

      yes, great point. I suspect they fired her primarily because of the blowback that would happen if they did not fire her. It just so happens that her statements were also racist, and now Regal Cinemas looks good.

  25. OriginalEmma*

    OP#3: You probably won’t be able to work on your laptop at jury duty. Having been in courthouses, they are VERY strict on the use of electronic devices like that. They may have you leave it in your car when you attempt to pass security. Plus, you’re there to do a job. You should not be distracted. Finally, depending on any gag orders in place on the jury, you may be violating it due to the potential to access outside media from that machine.

    1. fposte*

      It already happened, so I think the OP’s courthouse is one of those okay with it. Ours is like yours on the no electronic devices thing, but a lot of places don’t do that. (And my courthouse was very clear that you *should* bring something to do–most of jury duty isn’t actually hearing a trial, it’s sitting around in the waiting room.)

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I think your experience is a YMMV thing. My courthouse tells you specifically to bring something to do. It’s get so-so wifi but if you’ve got a hotspot or phone you are good to go. They’ve even got a conference room set aside in the waiting area for people to go in and work. I had a conference call while waiting to be called. There is a lot more time spent waiting than jury-ing.

      1. Natalie*

        Our has wifi specifically set up in the waiting room and giant signs with the network name and password. They want you to have a computer so you aren’t bored and cranky. :)

    3. OP #3*

      I was there for jury selection only and didn’t end up getting called so all day I was sitting in a room full of other jurors who also didn’t get called. I wasn’t in the courtroom distracting myself from a potential case. If I had been called in to the courtroom, I would have paid attention. My courthouse encouraged us to bring laptops and things of that nature, as we could potentially be sitting bored all day doing nothing…which is exactly what happened.

      I appreciate the person that suggested she might take jury duty very seriously, that is very possible and I hadn’t thought of that.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        I should have prefaced this with the fact that I’ve never been called to jury duty (c’mon, already!) but have been at courthouses where they were Super Serious about electronic devices. I assumed the same held in all parts of a courthouse, including jury waiting areas.

        Thanks for not taking offense at the idea of taking jury duty seriously. I didn’t mean it as a play on your diligence or intelligence…I was just thinking of myself with the perceived pressure to “work from whereever you are.”

    4. Today's anon*

      I think this really varies. While waiting to be called on a case, in my courthouse you are allowed to do read, use the computer etc. Actually the last time I was there, they had installed WIFI!!!! Yes, WIFI!!! There were even some charging stations (not enough but that was great improvement and we all took turns). It made the wait much less onerous. Once we were called into jury selection, we were not allowed to use any devices, and those of use picked for the case, had to turn all of electronics over to the court officers while in session.

  26. BananaPants*

    RE: #3 – some states have laws requiring employers to pay employees their normal wages for jury duty and the employer may not want employees working when on leave for jury duty. In my state employers have to pay full-time employees for the first five days of jury duty in a state court. State jury duty here is one day/one trial and something like 90% of those called will meet their obligation in one day. My employer gives the 5 days of juror pay whether called to a state or federal court and it’s treated sort of as a semi-vacation day unless you’re actually selected to be a juror! I guess the company wouldn’t care if you set up a hotspot with your phone and used the VPN to do work in the jury assembly room while waiting to see if you would be assigned to a jury (there is no internet access or electrical outlets in the jury rooms), but it would be viewed by coworkers and most managers like you take your job WAY too seriously.

    We had an employee who was a juror on a lengthy trial – the employee was out of work for close to a month on jury service and while they checked emails periodically and tried to stay in the loop, and on days when the jury was not in court they were able to come into the office and do work. A number of years ago a colleague wound up on a federal grand jury and it was a requirement of service for several days each month for 18 months! In both cases after 5 days the company paid the difference between juror pay and normal salary so at least neither ended up losing income, but it was still problematic – especially for the poor guy stuck on the federal grand jury. He had a calendar posted of when he would be at jury duty so that we could work around it, but it was tiresome for him personally and professionally.

    1. Graciosa*

      This stuff can be hard. I’m not saying it’s not important, or that I don’t feel strongly that people should be willing to participate in this aspect of our justice system, but it is not always easy or convenient.

      I know of a case that dragged on so long that a juror was fired. The judge ordered a reinstatement – but this is still a tough position for the juror to be in, continuing after the trial is over and the juror has returned to work for a very unhappy employer.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Isn’t this why we have alternates? I don’t know that much about it. I’ve only done it once and the proceeding only lasted fifteen minutes (mistrial).

        1. Graciosa*

          No, the alternates are not there in case someone loses their job or has to go back to work (because this is not supposed to happen!). Alternates come into play if a juror has to drop out due to other unavoidable hardships (hospitalization, death) or for some extreme situations of juror misconduct (juror refuses to participate in deliberations, or violates court ordered confidentiality to try to sell story to tabloid while still deliberating). If the trial was significant, having an alternate saves everyone from a mistrial that forces a complete repeat of the whole trial.

  27. Ad Astra*

    It’s difficult to feel sorry for someone who gets fired for posting racist tweets, but it does make me worry about the Internet’s new tendency to notify someone’s employer every time someone says something objectionable. Once Regal was alerted to the situation, it would be a huge PR mistake not to fire her. But a sane person knows that a company’s views are not represented by their lowest-level employees. The tendency to equate employment with agreement is making me nervous.

    Allison is right that there’s a big difference between hate speech and political or social discourse, but I’m not confident many businesses will see it that way. I would never, ever post something bigoted or criticize a client on social media, but I always worried I’ll be reprimanded if I ever express an actual opinion. I’m less afraid of my company and more afraid of the “DID YOU SEE WHAT YOUR EMPLOYEE SAID?!?!” mobs.

    1. Allison*

      This is true, but I’d trust my employer to be reasonable if someone confronted them about something they saw on my social media pages, and not just fire me because some got mad about it. But again, this is why I try to be careful when expressing viewpoints attached to my name. Certainly, anything I post might be offensive to someone and I can’t just say nothing ever, but before posting something that may be controversial, I think “if a reasonable person might get worked into a lather over this, is it worth saying?” I imagine, if someone did e-mail my boss with a screencap of something I posted, would they think “oh no, Allison we can’t have you working here anymore,” or would they say “so? I don’t see the issue, can you explain why it seems inflammatory to you?”

      1. Ad Astra*

        One thing that stood out to me with the Regal situation is at least one person tweeting “Hey, @RegalTheatres, do you agree with what your employee said?” and then attaching screen shots of her racist comments. Of course Regal doesn’t agree.

        So if I said “Abortion should be safe and legal in every state, and XYZ legislation is unconscionable,” is someone going to (publicly) forward that to my employer and ask if they agree? I don’t know how my employer feels about abortion, but I’m pretty sure the company isn’t interested in taking a stance one way or the other. Equating employment with agreement puts the company in a bad spot, and I’m not confident my employer would have my back here.

        I just worry that this mob behavior will force companies to be farther reaching in their policing of employees’ online lives for the sake of protecting their reputation.

        1. Ad Astra*

          For the record, I’m not sorry the racist girl got fired. I’m just worried about my own hide.

    2. Advocate*

      +1 This is problem I have with this situation. Not that she was fired, but that if mob pressure is accepted by people, then it will be put to more and more use in less and less obviously clear-cut cases.

  28. Bekx*

    #2… at first I was kinda concerned about the doxing because I’m really against that. My friend in high school was doxed and it wasn’t pretty…and it actually involved me because we were friends on livejournal and that was a super scary time.

    But then when I actually looked up the Regal Cinermas tweets and story and saw that this girl was ASKING for it and supplying everyone with that information, I definitely sided with tweeting about it.

    Don’t get me wrong, that kind of hate does deserve punishment. I just hate doxing. Yes, it can be used for good (like in this case if she hadn’t posted where she worked) but it is mostly used for bad bad bad, and I’d hate for that to become the mainstream response for if someone says something that a group doesn’t like. And it’s starting to become mainstream. I don’t know. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

    I think what people are saying above in reference to being gay or trans and doxing them is more along the lines of doxing can be used for good and evil, and that’s why people seem to be concerned about this.

    1. Helen of What*

      I don’t think it’s doxing if they’re just repeating info she posted herself. I didn’t see people posting her address or personal info other than name/workplace. Though, I if they did that really isn’t okay.

      1. Bekx*

        No, they didn’t dox her. Bu that’s what I originally assumed they did until I read the article.

    2. zora*

      I don’t think anyone would have bothered doxing her if she *hadn’t* posted the information so obviously herself. There have been a lot of people on twitter saying stupid, horrific, f*cked up things since the Charleston attack. The internet isn’t going after all of them. I think she just made it so obvious herself.

      1. Bekx*

        Oh I completely agree — she was the idiot here. Not only for posting such hateful things, but also for taunting everyone by posting her place of employment. The sad thing is, she will probably not learn from this. She might not make comments on social media anymore, but I think it’s very hard to change a racist’s mind.

  29. Erin*

    #1 – That is a stupid practice but I would say ignoring him and getting your coffee elsewhere is best. No need to draw more attention to this nonsense. Maybe if no one uses it it’ll just fade out.

    #2 – Did you see the news article on that woman who was fired before she even started a job several months back? She posted publicly on Facebook the morning of what would have been her first day working at a daycare that she hates kids but needs this job. They told her not to bother coming in. I totally support this – I mean how stupid can you be?

    I have no sympathy for people who don’t take into consideration what they’re publicly posting on social media. I also 100% agree with Alison that this is a clear fireable offense for bigotry – this person has no leg to stand on as they might if they were supporting a particular political party or something of that nature.

    #3 – I would give her the benefit of the doubt that she’s really trying to tell you not to worry about work while you’re at jury duty. It does sound to me like that’s what this is, not that she’s micromanaging. If she continues to push it, do ask what the real concern is – maybe that you won’t produce satisfactory results because you’re multitasking instead of focusing 100% on the work? (To be clear I’m not saying you aren’t capable of multitasking, but maybe that’s what she’s thinking.)

    #4 – Maybe get another mentor.

    #5 – Yep, that’s perfectly legal and normal. They aren’t obligated to give overtime hours, they’re just obligated to pay you for it if you *do* work overtime.

    1. Allison*

      Oh man, that woman who got fired from daycare before she even started was just dumb. I mean, I get it, lots of people take jobs they don’t want and dread their first day, but that’s not something you post openly. If I was her employer, I wouldn’t want to pay someone to do a job they clearly didn’t like, especially when I can hire someone who does like kids and would thus be more likely to do their job well, and with enthusiasm. I’d also be worried about an image issue; if I was a parent sending my kid to that daycare and I knew one of their employees didn’t like kids, I’d find a new daycare. No way am I entrusting my child to someone who doesn’t like kids, I’d worry about her being negligent, or losing her temper and becoming verbally abusive. Not to mention my kid may pick up on that, which would make them unhappy, and thus upset with me for taking them there every day. If I’m paying out the bum for daycare, it’s gonna be good daycare g-darnit!

      1. Erin*

        Agreed all around. I don’t have kids yet but I do know daycare is expensive as hell. I would definitely not pay up the wazoo to have someone who hates kids be responsible for my child.

        And I just can’t believe that woman felt the need to vent (let alone publicly) about the job before. Even. Starting. At least start out positive and give it a shot!

      2. Laurel Gray*

        All of this.

        Child care is simply NOT a job you do just for the money. Absolutely not. With many child care facilities, the difference between them can be just as much the level of care of the employees as the location and resources. I’ve become good friends with one of my child’s teachers outside of the school because of what a great teacher and person she is and how much my child adores her.

        1. Erin*

          I firmly believe teachers make or break a classroom, whether it’s daycare or college.

          Bringing it back to the topic on hand, the safe assumption is that our employers can see anything we’re posting.

          1. Allison*

            I will point out that employers have better things to do than stalk employees and new hires online. In the vast majority of these incidents, someone saw an offending tweet or status post and brought it to the employer’s attention.

      3. zora*

        if I was the employer I woudl also be worried about her judgment while she was working for me. And what crazy or stupid things she would say on fb that some of the parents might see and then be upset about. If you can’t figure out how to lock down your fb page, you definitely shouldn’t be working with kids.

  30. JustMe*

    #2 – IF the writing is on the wall, I will bring attention to it. Point blank period. In most cases these people tend to be covert racists toward people of color in the workplace. They do little slick things that make people feel slighted. Then when you bring attention to it, you’re imagining things. I really am tired of it. If I want to go out and enjoy a movie I expect the same treatment as anyone else. I don’t expect to be treated less than because you have racist views. [Granted I behave respectfully as other patrons].

    I can’t imagine why anyone would be onboard with what she did, and the actions her employers took.

    1. African Sun*

      Totally agree. Kind of surprised by some of the justifying comments here on #2 issue. The girl said racist things. Would black or African-descent patrons feel comfortable her working there? Probably not, and I can definitely speak for myself when I say no, so she definitely had to go.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        Yes, I am trying to stay strong and bypass the justifying I am seeing. I know racists exists and I am sure I support businesses who employ racists. However, once their racism becomes known to the public and their employer, I have the right to not support their employer, and I wouldn’t. When the topic of racism comes up, I hate to see it being compared to having differing political view points. Totally not the same.

        1. Kelly L.*

          YES! Whenever someone says “Criticizing racism is just like criticizing politics!”, I wonder what on earth their politics actually are. If racism is an intrinsic part of your (general you) politics, there’s something wrong with your politics.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it either–I would be thinking, is she going to start talking about it to me and assuming I share her views because I’m white? I have actually had this happen. Of course, the people involved found out I didn’t agree with them pretty quick. If that were the case, you’d better believe I’d complain to her manager.

        1. Bekx*

          Alison has a great line for this “I hope you’re not telling me this because you think I agree with you?” (Or maybe it wasn’t Alison…whoever it was, I read it hear and it’s stuck with me!)

  31. Retail Lifer*

    #5 Many places I’ve worked would rather be short-handed than pay overtime. In fact, that’s often the policy (No. Overtime. Ever). I always enjoyed the extra money in my paycheck, but I know it pained my employer to have to pay me any extra.

    1. Malissa*

      I once worked for a big box store as a cashier. Now as a cashier I couldn’t move from my register with-out permission from the supervisors, even to go to the bathroom. One day during busy season I reported for work in the morning and was told, by a supervisor, that I had worked 38.5 hours the week before. I said “yes…” wondering what the big deal was. I was then told that I wasn’t supposed to work more than 37.5 hours in a week. I replied”Okay.” She then went on to tell me that if this happened again I would be written up. I very politely informed her that if she would close my register and let me leave when my shift was up that it wouldn’t be a problem. I never heard a word about how much I was or wasn’t working after that.

  32. Laurel Gray*

    Re #2

    A part of me wonders if it isn’t privilege in some form that makes people not see how terrible this young girl’s tweets were and why her firing was justified. A part of me also wonders if privilege is why people can make the freedom of speech argument whenever someone says racist things. As someone who is directly affected by racism, let me tell you, it sucks. When a waitress treats you like shit assuming you won’t tip, or a sales associate follows you around a store assuming you may steal, or when a cashier at a high end grocery store asks you loudly if you will be using EBT after she hits “total”. IT F—— SUCKS. Racists like this bowl cut creep in Charleston are a threat to society and when ignorant people like this young girl tweet with any level of support of his actions, it can create a terrible ripple effect of retaliation, more racism and more hatred.

    I have been on the other side of the coin too. I worked with a wacko who hated Jews. I was very young at the time and did not have the poise or AAM scripts to deal with my coworker professionally. I had only heard “she was a piece of work” from others but the day I had to hear her hate speech for myself, I blurted out a “Are you f—-g kidding me?” and hauled ass to HR, told her what happened and said I could NOT and would not work with a racist. She looked horrified and told me I seemed very upset and I could take the rest of the day off. I assumed that was code for I was fired and they would call my agency (I was temping over the summer) and tell them that was my last day. I came to work the next day like nothing happened and HR immediately called me into a conference room with – the CEO, CFO, HR and the manager I was reporting to. At the end of the meeting, the CEO pulls me aside and tells me he is a Jew, who does extensive volunteer work in Israel every year with his teen kids (and every year invites 2 employees) and was deeply disappointed that other employees had heard her comments in passing and never came forward.

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      See, and how many people did she turn away from the company Jewish or not just for being ‘a piece of work’ because no one spoke up in any way.

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        I know it’s literally part of my code of ethics to speak up with things I might shy away from otherwise, but gah it’s instinctual to want to say something in some way.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          This woman was fired a few hours after HR told me I could leave for the day. HR spoke to a few people one on one who told her of incidents where this coworker made racist remarks. She did have a client facing role and been with the company for several years. Through the gossip mill I heard the CEO himself fired her that afternoon and had a “talking to” with the people who never reported her comments. I admit I did not look at those coworkers the same during the rest of my time there. There’s something icky about people who don’t say racist comments themselves but tolerate it.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’m glad you spoke up.

            One reason they may not is that they may have worked someplace where they did speak up, or saw other people do so, and nothing was done. Or perhaps the higher-ups shared the racist opinions and made life difficult for them. Or they saw this happen to someone else. Plenty of people are afraid to rock the boat, even though it might be the right thing to do, because they fear for their livelihoods. Or they think (wrongly or not) management won’t do anything.

            I am not in any way excusing them. I’m only trying to point out reasons why they may be afraid to say anything. However, the boss at that job set a wonderful precedent for anyone speaking out. Now everyone knows that crap won’t be tolerated.

    2. Career Counselorette*

      Thank you. This completely encapsulates my feelings about it too, and why it’s so alarming to hear people saying, “Why are you bringing race into it? Why can’t she say what she wants? Is nothing safe?”

      No, nothing really is safe when performing quotidien tasks as a person of color means you’ll have wildly different and often demoralizing treatment because virulent racists are allowed to keep customer-facing jobs.

    3. OriginalEmma*

      A part of me wonders if it isn’t privilege in some form that makes people not see how terrible this young girl’s tweets were and why her firing was justified. A part of me also wonders if privilege is why people can make the freedom of speech argument whenever someone says racist things.

      I think you hit the nail on the head. It IS privilege, whether economic, racial or social. When you’re not the recipient of prejudiced language or behavior, it’s easy to take a philosophical ground. You have the privilege of both not being a recipient AND not having to even think of it!

    4. Observer*

      Kudos to you for standing up to that kind of bigotry. But there is a HUGE difference between the scenarios you describe – being targeted as a customer or by workmates, and people who blather on their own time. Not that I’m defending racism – I’ve been on the receiving end of anti-semitism.

  33. AW*

    It’s distressing the number of people who think that calling someone out on their racism is worse than actually being racist.

    1. Allison*

      Today I saw an article, written by a soldier, talking about how offensive it is that people are offended by things. I just . . . I can’t with humans these days.

      1. Anna*

        Berke Breathed coined the term “offensensitivity” in the 80s, I think, so the idea that people are so easily offended isn’t new. And it tends to be the people who want to continue to use racist or sexist language as a matter of course who most often whine that people are “too sensitive” these days.

  34. Ann O'Nemity*


    Is the issue that the employee is now working less that 40 hours because the employer is worried about possible overtime? So for example, let’s say the employee only ends up working 26 hours one week because 16 of their 40 scheduled hours were “on call” but they weren’t called in. If this is the case, it’s legal but crappy for the employee. I can see the employer’s perspective – that they need “on call” employees and don’t want to ever pay overtime – but I seriously wouldn’t want a job like that.

    1. Scott M*

      I thought it was that if he already had already worked say, 39 hours, by Wednesday night because of emergency calls, then they would send him home after an hour on Thursday to avoid overtime.

  35. Reverse equivalent*

    #2: Alison, does this mean that resigning without notice because a manager or superior makes racist tweets or posts on social media (the reverse equivalent) is also okay?

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