How would you respond if your employee was photographed marching in Charlottesville over the weekend?

Lee Park, Charlottesville, VAFollowing a tumultuous weekend in Charlottesville, VA, where a white nationalist march turned deadly, it appears as though at least one attendee will return home from the rally to find himself unemployed.

“Unite the Right” attendees are getting outed on social media and apparently losing their jobs.

Seth Millstein at Bustle.com (here) and  James Wilkinson and Hannah Party for DailyMail.com (here) that a Twitter user, @YesYoureRacist, has used the popular social media platform to identify marchers to publicly shame them.

This added publicity appears to have cost at least one marcher his job. The Daily Mail reports that an employee of a hot dog restaurant in California has lost his job after a picture of him brandishing a tiki torch during the march went viral online. The restaurant seems to have confirmed the firing. Still, the restaurant’s Facebook page has received several angry one-star reviews, citing the tiki-torch bearer as the reason for the poor rating.

Tips for handling a similar situation with your private business.

I have counseled employers through similar online situations. It’s a triage situation because you’re often caught flat-footed, finding out about it from external sources (possibly from the media). However, there are effective ways to address these situations. Consider the following approach:

  1. Thank those who reported the employee and confirm, publicly, that you are looking into the situation.
  2. Do not rush to judgment. Not everything you see and read on the internet is true. Instead, investigate.
  3. If the investigation confirms the reports, then act accordingly i.e., fire the employee. Just be careful if you operate in a state with off-duty conduct laws. (Indeed, while I do not practice in California, it appears that firing the employee in this situation may get sticky).
  4. Publicly announce the outcome and issue a statement denouncing the (former) employee’s views.

 

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