Teacher fired over Facebook photo

Ashley Payne, a high school teacher from Georgia, was confused as to why the principal of the school she teaches at asked her into his office for a meeting.  She was even more confused when she was asked if she had a Facebook account.  But things became really clear for the 24 year old when he finally spilled. 

A parent of a student complained because one of her photos on her Facebook showed her holding two glasses of alcohol while on vacation.

Let’s make this clear.  She was not drinking on the job.  She was on vacation.  And like the rest of us would, she was sharing her vacation photos with her Facebook friends, including a picture of her with alcohol.

Even more, Ashley’s profile is private.  So she never would have thought any of her students or their parents would have seen her photos or snooped into her private life.  And now, because of it, the principal was asking Ashley to either resign or be suspended

Ashley had no choice but to resign.

This is just one more example of how anything on the web has become public knowledge.  In fact, if you want to be alarmed, take a gander at Spokeo.com, a website that has gathered information from various places on the web about none other than YOU.  Don’t believe me?  Type in your name on the search engine and see what comes up about you.  And then sit back and take in the fact that they know your address, your age, your salary…even your religion.  Same thing with your Facebook page or the like.  All someone has to do is copy your photo and put it somewhere else on the web and it becomes public knowledge – including companies that are BUYING your information.  Don’t even get me started on the so-called privacy of Facebook.  Basically, there is none. 

The internet has guaranteed that no one has a right to control their own privacy.

And that’s what killed Ashley’s job. First of all, it’s imperative that anyone who is posting pictures or comments know that they are posting them for the world to see.  So it makes it all the more important to not post anything that you wouldn’t want your grandma to see, let alone your boss. 

The photo that killed Ashley Payne's job

But something is seriously wrong when a teacher is forced to quit her job because of a photo of herself having fun on vacation.  And let’s face it, while it would be easy to believe that teachers live in their classrooms and drink nothing but water, that’s not reality.  Teachers also go on vacation.  They also enjoy a glass of wine.  They are just as G rated as the rest of us in their private lives – meaning that they aren’t, just like the rest of us.

They are entitled to a life.

But then again, some parents might disagree.  It eventually came out that the phonecall reporting Ashley’s photo was actually an anonymous tip – meaning that it may have been a parent, and it may not have been.  But someone was so offended by the fact that a teacher at the school had posted a picture of herself on the web of her drinking during her social time, resulting in the eventual loss of her job.  And this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of someone getting in trouble with their job over Facebook photos.  In fact, many jobs will search their applicants on Facebook to see the person that is interviewing, and what they are like when they aren’t in front of them in a suit and tie.

Should teachers, and other professionals, be judged at work for their personal profile pages on Facebook?  Do you feel that teachers have an even bigger job of making sure their lives away from the school are politically correct since they work with children and could be deemed role models?


24 thoughts on “Teacher fired over Facebook photo

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  1. This is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. I mean, seriously…an adult of legal drinking age getting fired for posting photos of herself on vacation drinking? No…not even technically drinking…merely holding glasses of what we assume is alcohol.

    The problem here is not the lack of privacy on the internet — I’m not saying that isn’t something we need to be aware of, but I think that at this point, it is a fact of life that people simply need to get used to. If you do it, someone may see it. No, the problem is the kinds of people who would call a school and complain that a teacher is having a fun time on her vacation doing something that she is allowed to do –and that they were HEADED. I mean, this type of person is not a new one…the most pastoral town has the busybodies that insist on poking into everyone’s business and telling everyone else why that person is doing wrong…but sane societies generally ignore this level of sniping and jerkish gossip. It is usually chalked up to old so-and-so who has never been happy and isn’t satisfied until no one else is either, or that sanctimonious bat who sees sin in the way the preacher walks to the pulpit on Sunday morning.

    No, nothing is private anymore, so one should probably avoid snorting coke off of hookers’ hinies…but that’s good advice in any era. However, when someone can not post a tame photo of themselves doing a perfectly legal activity — i mean, it’s not like she was at a Roman orgy…she wasn’t even showing any cleavage!– without worrying about whether they will come home to a job or a pink slip, it’s a sign that the wrong people are making the decisions, IMHO.

  2. Facebook and the other social media sites are just an extension of peoples strange need to be in contact with someone 24/7 !!!! Face it, in reality none of us is remotely interesting enough to need to be that available !

  3. Nanny state meets PC authoritarianism. Aside from all the obvious cautionary tales about what is and isn’t private anymore (which is to say, NOTHING), this is an absolute outrage. I hope she sues their balls off.

  4. IMHO sounds to me like she has a lawsuit for wrongful termination — personally, I wouldn’t ask for my job back; I’d like to get monetary damages since it was an improper termination. Who said there was alcohol in those glasses? Looks like cranberry juice to me!

  5. I agree its silly but really she should have been more aware. Anything you put on the internet should be put there with the knowledge that anyone might see it. Every time I put something on Facebook I always remember that my mother is on there for one, and also clients, and potential clients. One of the responsibilities of being a teacher is serving as a role model in the community. It goes with the job and every teacher is aware of that. If the local community is not going to be supportive of holding 2 drinks then its clearly not a good idea to put it on your Facebook page. If her pictures were posted so that only her friends could see them she might want to ask herself who decided to copy that photo and share it with someone but regardless she made a clear mistake in judgment.

  6. I checked that spokeo site. Kinda interesting but they guess at a lot of information so it can be grossly inaccurate. For instance, it listed my brother-in-law and his ex-wife as still married in his house with his new wife as the child, all in their 30s. WTF?? It was good for a laugh.

  7. OMGosh….REALLY….. Guess teachers and other “rolemodels” are not suppose to have a life. Well then, that should include parents too (which I am one). Look at these “athelets” that these kids look up to and the crap they do (not all, but some). I hope she takes them to court and beats the socks off of them. Then has a glass of wine at the courthouse afterwards.

  8. There has got to be a wrongful termination lawsuite in the making here. Ashley, get yourself a good lawyer. This reads like an urban myth; I’m inclinded to try and verify it is true because on the face of it it reads as utterly rediculous. Dear Ash – do not let this get you down – you’ve been done wrong and I can’t believe everyone doesn’t see it that way.

  9. She should be mature enough to know it was a mistake. Teachers are role models and I don’t want my children to see drinking alcohol as fun or positive activity. There’s been too many DUI’s.

  10. Sue. Sue now. Collect millions. Do not pass go, do not worry about school district funds devoted to your settlement, that’s what insurance is for. And make sure any judgement includes the firing of the superintendent who had the gall to ask for your resignation for having the temerity to be human. What a COMPLETE LOAD OF BS

  11. I am a non-drinker and I think this is ridiculous. She is on vacation. It is not like she’s naked. It is not like it’s a DUI.
    Why let ONE (or any) anonymous tip ruin an employee over a non-job, LEGAL activity.

    They may have just let someone with an ax to grind get revenge.
    Anonymous tips should only be acceptable for criminal activity.

    I hope she fights back. It will be a victory for all employees who’s bosses are trolling for unrelated dirt.

  12. Agreed ronzo-parents should ALSO be require to forgo alcohol, poor eating habits, gossip, slothfulness, and kissing in front of their kids-even the little peck. They ARE the biggest role models and should have to live up to their own standards.

  13. collinsfriend- I too agree that parents are children biggest rolemodels. they learn more form you just by watching your actions than sitting down with them to teach the right and wrong of life. BUT, really take this case at face value…. it is BS all the way.

    GRANTED- IF she was doing this at a school event, or a the picture had the name of the school in the background….. then they may of had the right to fire her.

    Guess the lesson for us to learn from this…… be very, very careful what you put on the internet. And you thought passing a note in class was bad 😉

  14. This is outrageous since when are teachers “not allowed” to drink? they are not nuns, Whoever decided to ruin this teachers life has no life, and should be ashamed of the damage they have caused

  15. What is even more shocking is that WineCountryMom did not state that Spokeo charges for the use of their web site. Shopeo does not even offer a free trial.

    Shopeo sells memberships: yearly is $3 bucks a month; half a year is $4 bucks a month; 3 months is $5 bucks a month.

    I typed my name in Shopeo and they gave my address, but nothing else. So if I want to find out what kind of info about me is circulating in the digital world I will have to pay to find out.

    My question: did WineCountryMom pay from her own earnings to join? Or did someone else pay for her?

    Ashley Payne should never have resigned! Ashley should have told her principle to fire her, and then let the legal process resolve the issue.

    1. Actually, Daryl, they’ll show you what they believe to be true pertaining to information they have found about you throughout the web – for free. Some profiles have more info listed than others. And it’s a toss up as to whether that info is actually correct. I never paid for a membership, but can see what they have on there publicly – albeit incorrectly. But yes, if I paid, I could probably find the pictures they’ve scraped of me from Facebook, etc.

  16. This is a power trip by the Christian Taliban. Christians keep complaining when anyone criticizes them for their beliefs, but we are not criticizing them for their beliefs, but for their intent to make us subject to their beliefs, thus the tag “taliban”.

    America was founded on the belief that one’s religion should be free from anothers’ religious power. This is clearly a civil rights violation, requiring adherence to specific religious morals. This is unacceptable in ANY public school. However,if this is a private school, that religions beliefs are acceptable standards.

    goes to show that we really haven’t made itmuch past 1600 AD.

  17. It seems to me that she was illegally fired so she should sue the system and put a stop to future firings.

    Are they going to look thru everyone’s wedding photos to see if a teacher was drinking a toast? How stupid. I hope she sues.

  18. ” Should have been more aware”: has moral….: ya de da. Get out of peoples personal lives. Get a life beyond -regulating someone else. Is she a teacher in good standing( ie educating students)end of req.

  19. I am a Christian and I find it offensive that someone cant go on vacation (which is off company time) and enjoy themselves. I don’t drink myself. But there is nothing offensive about this photo. She is not naked, drunk in public, in a playboy photo op, etc.. SHE IS ON VACATION! And if facebook is not hiding our privacy, shame on them. Also, if a job wants to fire you because you have a life outside of the work place and take out the time to go on vacation. Then that job is not for you. That is their loss. (This is the comment I posted on the article)

  20. To all of you that feel she made a clear mistake in judgment. She was on Vacation and her fb was private. The school had no right to fire her. What’s next. They fire us for a comment we make on facebook that involves our freedom of speech. America is starting to urk me with all this political correctness.

  21. What if she was at a wedding and toasting the new couple and wound up in one of the wedding picture that was later posted on the couple’s web page or even a photo that was given to a guest or family member. This sounds like the strict moral code that female teachers had to follow in the 19th century.

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