A single mom -- who also happens to be an anonymous sex blogger -- was fired from her job recently. The reason? Bad performance? No.
She was fired because her employer discovered her anonymous sex blog. By anonymous, I mean that she authored her blog, The Beautiful Kind, under a pen name like many successful authors do.
How can someone be fired for something they do after working hours -- anonymously? Was she writing about her employer, her work, her colleagues, or her boss? Was her blog disparaging to her employer? No and No.
So why was she fired? The Beautiful Kind (TBK) recounts her experience that morning, when she was called to her boss's office immediately upon getting to work.
My story boils down to this: I made it a point to keep my personal and professional lives separate (kept name and face off my site & did not mention my job on my site). My boss was advised by the corporate office to Google employees. When they found my site due to a social media glitch, they fired me on the spot. The reason they gave for firing me is because they took offense to me discussing my private affairs online. -- The Beautiful Kind
TBK's boss was able to find her true identity due to an unintended Twitter related caching issue. She had entered her real name in her profile and then changed it as soon as she realized it was publicly visible. TBK immediately changed it, but the damage was done. One of the search engines had already cached the information -- ugh... That's when it all hit the fan.
TBK received the following letter after being terminated, apparently written by a lawyer to try and cover their bases.
We simply cannot risk any possible link between our mission and the sort of photos and material that you openly share with the online public. While I know you are a good worker and an intelligent person, I hope you try to understand that our employees are held to a different standard. When it comes to private matters, such as one's sexual explorations and preferences, our employees must keep their affairs private. -- Company "X"
This is really starting to sound like the military's "don't ask, don't tell" approach to gay men and women in the service. A person should not have to hide their sexual preferences to keep their job or stay in the military. It's time that we, as human beings, learn to live together and to respect that we all have unique preferences and perspectives.
All that aside, rather than firing her on the spot, why not ask her to simply take down her blog or refrain from this activity in the future? Or how about giving her two weeks to find another job or provide her with a healthy severance package? I believe that firing her on the spot was an extreme and emotional over reaction that should make us all very wary. It was just mean and vindictive!
Did her boss really fear bad PR, or was he just icked out by the content of her site?
Tony Rothert, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, tells The Riverfront Times that the company could have assuaged its PR worries by simply asking that TBK take down her blog. He says, "The fact that they didn't do that and instead just fired her causes one to believe that it really is the content that they had a problem with, and not really that they were concerned about a connection between her blog and the employer being made in the public." He adds, "One of the unfortunate things is that a lot of people are uncomfortable about unconventional sexuality, especially when a woman's involved. That is not an employer's job -- to police the sexual lives of its employees -- and when an employer discriminates on that basis it is sex discrimination and it's against the law." -- Jezebel.com
Ultimately this is not even a question of legal rights -- it's a question of what's right and who gets to make that determination for you. In an at-will employment state, you can be hired and you can be fired for no reason other than personal preference.
TBK wants people to realize that this CAN happen to you.
Don't have a sex blog? How about that wild party you were at last weekend, you know, with all those pictures you posted to your Facebook page? What about the bar you checked into with your FourSquare account? Nothing is private on the internet and its all fair game for an overbearing HR person or a peeping tom (or closet pervert) employer with nothing better to do than to poke around in your private life.
Here are some thoughts that TBK shared with us about this painful experience.
The whole situation is unfortunate, as I think this is not a fair reason for being terminated. It is lifestyle discrimination. In this day and age, sex is still such a taboo topic. Some people believe it should be kept a private matter, hidden in the shadows, but I think talking about it openly and honestly is a much healthier approach. My website truly inspired and helped people via education and inspiration. I feel good knowing that I have made a difference and brought happiness to thousands of people. - The Beautiful Kind
At Ask Dan & Jennifer, we absolutely agree with The Beautiful Kind. Our human sexuality is a beautiful thing that should not be hidden away and treated as if it's wrong. A healthy sex life is critical for a happy relationship but most people suffer in silence because they're afraid to talk about their sexual desires and preferences. We believe that education and awareness are the answer to all questions. Sexuality is not the exception. It's time to bring it out of the closet.
So here's the question we have for you today.
Is person's personal sex life really any of their employers business? Should a person be fired for something (completely legal) that they do on their own time, outside of work? Please tell us why you feel the way you do about this topic.
Jennifer Hunt & Dan Baritchi are the founders of Ask Dan & Jennifer, Today's #1 Love & Sex Resource. Connect with them on AskDanAndJennifer.com, become a fan of Dan & Jennifer on Facebook and follow Dan & Jennifer on Twitter.