Intern fired for racist tweet. But, wait, it gets worse…

Stamp Out Racism, Belfast, August 2010

On Tuesday, a Fox affiliate in Arizona reported here that an intern at a health and wellness company was fired for an offensive tweet.

Specifically, the intern tweeting a photo showing her and a friend in a cotton field with the caption “Our inner n****r came out today.” The intern quickly deleted the tweet, but not before it went viral.

For what it’s worth, the intern contacted her employer to share what happened. And here she is apologizing for her behavior. But, to the employer’s credit, it immediately fired the intern and condemned the intern’s actions.

So, you’d think that would be it.

Except, apparently, the intern is sorry, but not sorry.

That is, she appears to have deleted the Twitter account from which she made the offensive tweet, and started a new account. And on that new account, well, check out some of the tweets I’ve embedded below. (If you’re getting this post via email and have trouble viewing the tweets, just click here).

And then the former intern had the gall to question her company’s judgment in firing her.

No, sorry. The First Amendment doesn’t apply in the private sector. And frankly, it wouldn’t apply in this situation to a government intern either.

What employees do on Twitter, on their own time, may impact the workplace.

What many employees fail to realize is that what you say and do on social media in your “personal life” does impact your “professional life” and your employer. In this particular situation, other Twitter users, like this one, connected the intern to her employer. Imagine then, what would have happened had the employer looked the other way. Suppose the intern’s “filter” fails and she later makes similar comments in the workplace. Now, you’re looking at a possible hostile work environment which the employer could have avoided by taking reasonable steps (i.e., termination or, at a minimum, some counseling).

So, as employers, if you find yourself in a similar situation — even if the tweets are “off-the-clock” — you may also find yourself under a social media microscope.

How will you respond?

Image Credit: By Ardfern (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
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  • USAFPhotog

    NEVER ATTACH YOUR EMPLOYER TO ANY OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS and if you do, don’t make racist comments also, MAKE YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE PRIVATE! In other words , keep your business and personal life separate!

  • dave

    When it comes to certain offensive words, I am pretty sure that I am not the censor of the world and I am 100% sure that I should not use them.

  • dave

    Wait, before you say this intern deserved to be fired, can you remember what you said when Gilbert Gotfried was fired by AFLAC. What he said was definitely job related. why would an intern think her personal twitter account was being followed by her employer.

  • dave

    What if the intern went to her local comedy club open mike night and told an offensive joke?