Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Crystal Eschert, an investigator with the fire department of Charlotte, North Carolina, was fired after posting a racially insensitive comment on her Facebook page

Where is Obama? Where is Holder? Where is Al Sharpton? Where are Trayvon Martin's parents? Where are all the white guy supporters? So WHY is everyone MAKING it a racial issue?!? So tired of hearing it’s a racial thing. If you are a thug and worthless to society, it’s not race – You’re just a waste no matter what religion, race or sex you are!

So wrote Crystal Eschert, at the time an investigator with the fire department of Charlotte, North Carolina, on her personal Facebook page. Crystal was upset that the shooting of a white cop by a black man near Ferguson did not receive the same amount of attention as the shooting of Michael Brown. Crystal did not identify herself as a member of the fire department.

Someone forwarded Crystal’s post to City Hall and, in September, City Manager Ron Carlee fired her ass. Carlee said the post was racially insensitive, discriminatory and inflammatory, and that city employees were expected to treat all people with dignity and respect.

Crystal, who was commended for the quality of her work on a recent performance evaluation, doesn’t believe she was fired for the comment she made. She thinks the real reason she was fired is because she had declared a city building to be unsafe.

Legal experts believe Crystal will have a good free speech case in a federal court. A police officer can be fired for making such a comment on social media because, having the power to arrest, it could create problems as he attempts to carry out his official duties. That is not the case with fire department employees.

The moral of this story is that (1) if you value your job be very careful how you use social media, and (2) exercising your right of free speech can have some unexpected and undesirable consequences.

1 comment:

CharlotteLady said...

I personally found her comment to be callously judgmental and discriminatory. But, the constitution guarantees Crystal the "right to free speech" and, as such, she can post any opinion she wishes, whether some find it offensive or not.

However, the employer also has "rights" and there is nothing in the constitution that guarantees Crystal the "right to a job" .

In this instance, as a public safety representative, her employer felt that her judgmental comments were not in line with their department's policies --- and would impair her ability to be perceived as impartial and non-discriminatory in carrying out her duties. Apart from age, sex, race or religion, in an "employment-at-will" state the employer has the legal right to dismiss an employee for any
reason...or for no reason at all.

People need to realize that nothing is “private” on the Internet and while we have the right to free speech, there are consequences to exercising that right.