Maplewood DPW Worker Is Fired After Facebook Rant – Should He Have Been? [POLL]
Having your political belief posted on Facebook can, in some cases as you may know from experience, get you fired from your job.
Yes, even if the Facebook page is private; or only open to a select group.
Take for instance, the case of Maplewood Department of Public Works Worker Sam Falcetano.
We talked about this last week.
Recently he sparked a fury with comments made about music festivalgoers leaving a mess in their wake, comments about the direction of the town; about its diversity, and on and on.
Comments that some would consider racist.
As a worker for Maplewood, while officials don’t give a reason for his firing; do you feel he should be fired for having made such comments on Facebook?
The veteran Maplewood Department of Public Works employee lost his job earlier this month, just days after he posted the comments, but the township won't give a reason for the termination.
And he’s not the first to express his feelings on Facebook.
In January, for example, two West Orange cops sparked an internal affairs investigation after The Star-Ledger reported their comments on a Facebook thread disparaging a 22-year-old township man who had recently been shot and killed in Newark.
In Orange, police officer Hector Rosado was fired, then rehired, for using profanity and a racial slur on Twitter that criticized the city during police layoffs.
When reached by phone at his home last week, Falcentano lamented that Maplewood was "a whole different town years ago."
Mayor Vic DeLuca — who last month welcomed North Jersey Pride on the steps of Maplewood Town Hall with same-sex couples to celebrate the Supreme Court's decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act — called Falcetano's online remarks "appalling."
In a statement, DeLuca said he took pride in Maplewood's diversity, saying Falcetano's comments were "not in any way representative" of the beliefs of the township.
Maplewood Township Administrator Joseph Manning confirmed that Falcetano was terminated on July 18, although he would not specifically state why.
Officials would not say whether workers in the Maplewood DPW must follow a social media policy as township employees.
The township's school district, though, requires that "staff members recognize they are held to a higher standard than the general public with regard to standards of conduct and ethics" when it comes to social media, and "not damage the reputation of the school district, employees, pupils, or their families."
Falcetano's comments were posted on a Facebook page titled "Memories of living in South Orange, NJ or Maplewood, NJ," said Carolyn Goldner Scher, who manages the page. The group is mainly comprised of graduates of Columbia High School — the shared high school for the two municipalities.
In his comments, she said, Falcetano identified himself as a Maplewood township employee, and posted angry comments about the Department of Public Works having to clean up after messy concert-goers following Maplewoodstock.
The comments, which have since been removed, went on into a tirade against Obama, liberals, gay marriage, abortion and teachers who he claimed pushed a liberal agenda in classrooms, according to several commenters on the site.The original post has been taken down but Falcetano's ouster has prompted a debate thread spanning more than 1,000 comments.
One commenter posted that he was glad Falcetano was terminated. "You have sullied our hometown and don't deserve to be on its payroll," he wrote.
Another commenter said he agreed with Falcetano's sentiments and defended his remarks: "What a disgrace. what ever happen (sic) to free speech and opionions (sic). he is 100% right."
Here’s the problem:
Last time out, I defended him. Who cares what a DPW worker has to say? It’s different if you’re a cop or teacher. You're being held to a higher standard.
Here it’s mentioned that there’s no social media policy regarding township employees other than teachers, which makes sense.
But do you feel that once he identifies himself as a DPW worker, his opinion is construed as being that of the township?
As stated above with the case of the two police officers, ask Union High School teacher Vicki Knox, who was to be brought up on tenure charges after criticizing the school’s policy of commemorating LGBT week and posting her religious beliefs condemning such…albeit on her own page.
She decided to put in her retirement papers rather than go through the hassle of tenure hearings.
Or the Jersey Transit employee who protested the Islamic Cultural Center that was to be located 4 blocks away from Ground Zero.
Difference with him, though, was that he did NOT represent himself as a Jersey Transit employee, and they fired him anyway; although giving him his job back after he proved he never identified himself as an NJT employee and was at the protest on his own time.
I’m always baffled as to how freedom of speech is construed:
Meaning you can say anything you want without reprisal.
I always took it to mean “freedom to say what you want about the government without reprisal!”
Is the firing of the Maplewood DPW employee for making comments about the direction of the town justified?