Walmart Fires Manager Over Anti-Muslim Facebook Posting – Freedom of Speech vs. Doing the Right Thing [POLL]
It’s not unusual in the digital world we live in that we will be held to whatever we say on the net, and in some cases it may come back to bite us in the butt.
Such is the case of an upstate New York manager of a Walmart who posted a picture taken in the store of a Muslim woman dressed in traditional garb with a derogatory caption.
Being identified as manager got him fired; something for which he apologizes, albeit due to having lost his job undoubtedly.
But do you feel that Walmart had the right to fire him over the posting on his Facebook page? For that matter, does any employer have the right to fire you for your Facebook postings?
A Facebook rant about Muslims by an employee of a Walmart store in Hamburg has prompted the retail giant to fire the man.
The derogatory posting on Friday morning was brought to the attention of Wal-Mart Stores executives by a member of the local Muslim community and by a national Muslim advocacy organization.
The assistant manager at the Walmart on Southwestern Boulevard in Hamburg posted a photograph from behind of two Muslim women dressed in full cover and the written comments: “Halloween came early this year ... do they really have to ... dress like that ... your in my country ... get that ... off!!!!!.”
The employee was identified as Terry Earsing by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national civil liberties organization that advocates on behalf of Muslims and had urged “appropriate disciplinary action” in the matter.
A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said Wednesday that the employee was fired.
“As soon as we became aware, we began looking into this and as a result, this associate is no longer with the company,” said Kayla Whaling. “We set high expectations for our associates, and this associate clearly failed to meet these expectations at every level.”
Whaling said Wal-Mart learned of the posting Friday.
Earsing apologized for the comments in a telephone interview with The Buffalo News.
“I’m truly, honestly sorry about the whole thing. I just apologize. I don’t know what else I can say,” he said.
Earsing said the incident started out as a joke that went awry.
The board president of CAIR’s New York chapter praised the retailer for acting swiftly according to its policies.
“We absolutely commend them for doing the right thing,” said Ryan Mahoney. “I wish this person didn’t take this course of action and force this outcome.”
CAIR expressed concern because the organization thought that the photograph was taken while the assistant manager was at his workplace and not on his own personal time.
“Because he did it at his job, it’s not about personal expression, it’s about Wal-Mart’s policy toward hate speech,” said Mahoney.
Earsing said a friend of his sent the picture to him, and he added his comments to the picture in a Facebook posting.
He said he was at home at the time he made the post.
“I didn’t do it from work,” he said.
For another perspective on the matter, see Vicki Knox.
It's simple. You identify yourself in some manner as an employee or representative of a company. Despite what you may think about having freedom of speech to say what you want on your own page; once you’re identified as being a teacher, employee of a giant retailer, you then are held responsible for what you say.
In this case, Walmart had no other choice but to fire the employee; and despite what you may think of them being pressured by an advocacy group; Walmart did the right thing.