Be careful what you say on Facebook. That's the lesson Cincinnati Fox 19 anchor Tricia Macke learned this week when she made homophobic comments about MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and was subsequently suspended.
Macke posted on her Facebook page that Maddow, an out lesbian, is an "angry young man." After the comment went viral when the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) posted a screenshot of it, Macke responded that she should have said "antagonistic," adding, "I knew what I was saying."
Macke, who has been with Cincinnati's Fox affiliate for almost 20 years, was suspended for two days. She subsequently removed the post and issued a real apology, saying: "I recently posted comments on my personal Facebook page regarding cable news anchor Rachel Maddow which were insensitive and inappropriate. I apologize to Ms. Maddow and any others who may have been offended by my comments, as they do not reflect my firm beliefs in individual and equal rights, and they certainly do not represent the opinions or position of my employer WXIX-TV."
Can You Get Fired For Social-Media Posts?
The National Labor Relations Board has been clear that posting disparaging comments about your workplace on social media isn't grounds for firing. But posting comments that are libelous about anyone, including your employer, subjects you to potential legal action. As this blog from Findlaw.com illustrates, the quickest ways to get in trouble at work are to:
- insult customers,
- insult future employers,
- post inappropriate photos of yourself (Anthony Weiner)
- post confidential work information,
- write offensive comments.
Corporate Values & Stereotypes
So what should inclusive companies do when their employees post racist, sexist or homophobic comments or images? Dr. Claude Steele, Dean of Education at Stanford University and a renowned expert on stereotypes who has spoken at our events, has told us that companies have to be forthright in creating cultures that have no tolerance for discriminatory comments of any type.
"If I were leading an organization and this happened, if the opportunity arose in a naturalistic way, I'd condemn it and say this is something to be ashamed of. That's what happened in the civil-rights movement—I'm old enough to remember when you could use the N-word in Congress, and that's not acceptable anymore," Dr. Steele said.
For more on stereotypes and social media, read Racist Obama Facebook Pages & Your Office: What Do You Need to Know?