Ole Miss Mess: Worker Reprimanded For LSU Rooting on Twitter

Comments were an 'embarrassment to the university'

LSU Mississippi Football
AP Photo/Austin McAfeeMississippi defensive end Jason Jones (53) tries to get around LSU lineman Alex Hurst (72) during the first half of their NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss.
College football rivalries are nothing to be trifled with. Neither are corporate social media policies, as some have found when fired for what they posted on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. To cross both at the same time? You'd be begging for a world of hurt.

A University of Mississippi employee luckily got away with a reprimand in the form of a general memo. The rule infraction? Supporting rival LSU in an October 19 football game -- while on the clock for Ole Miss, according to WMCTV.com. According to a letter sent by university physical plant director, obtained by The DMOnline.com, someone in that department had "posted comments that were indicative of supporting Ole Miss' opponent - the LSU Tiger football team."

Apparently school administration took a dim view of a mole in the paid Rebel ranks and questioned "the individual making the comments and his ability to make sound and wise decisions." The comments were an "embarrassment to the University ... that simply cannot be overlooked."

Physical plant director Ashton Pearson summed it up this way:

Let's be clear, the University will never dictate which sporting teams you can support and cheer for. But what we can dictate and fully expect is that if you cannot support the University of Mississippi, particularly while you are on the clock, you will remain neutral and be without comment. Make no mistake; all comments posted on any social media site are subject to review by various University departments and staff. In order to eliminate any unwanted scrutiny, you would be well advised to restrain from posting or otherwise making comments that may bring embarrassment to yourself or reflect negatively to or about your employer.

Although the employee in question had been on the job during the game, Pearson's warning goes further and is not limited to hours on the job. This is not unusual, particularly in an employment-at-will state like Mississippi in which an employer can fire an employee at any time for any reason. Some workers have found themselves dismissed for stating opinions on social media.

One exception can be if an employee is covered by a contract that specifies the conditions under which termination can happen, a type of clause regularly negotiated for unionized employees. According to a university spokesperson, physical plant workers at the school are not part of a union, but employment agreements could still offer limitations on what could be considered an offense that could allow termination.

In general, before the days of social networks, getting fired for personal views and opinions was far less likely simply because people could not readily and easily broadcast them. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks have changed the environment and allowed people to make their voices heard. Unfortunately for some, what they said was interpreted by employers as the words, "Fire me."

The problem for many workers is the question of exactly what could turn into an effective resignation letter. Complaints about the company would often do the trick. Praising a competitor? Certainly. But what if your boss is a rabid fan of a team you dislike? Could he or she send you packing for not liking your views? This is one reason why many states are passing laws that prohibit employers from forcing employees into "friending" them or revealing passwords, keeping the activity private.

Image: Flickr user thepipe26

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November 05 2013 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mississippi you have plenty of problems without getting involved with something of this nature.

November 05 2013 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mississippi I have always thought you were a beautiful state but now THIS ................get a life and let them
support whomever they want.

November 05 2013 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

SO what if a student makes the comment about the univ he./she attends ? such as a grad student who went to LSU for undergrad and MSU for Grad school ? They would be associated with MSU but not necessarily an employee of the Univ.

November 04 2013 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Shannon Estep

So where is the discussion about the first amendment? What about freedom of speech? This crap, and the people who put up with it, are getting out of hand.

November 04 2013 at 12:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Shannon Estep's comment

The person has the right to say whatever they want, the University has the right to hire and discipline how they want. Just because you have the right to do something does not mean its in your best interest. There is no right to a job. You aren't guaranteed employment. If you chose to exercise your first amendment rights in violation of a company policy, you get fired. Much like NDA's. You have the right to do a lot of things in America, but you also have to deal with the consequences of your actions from using those rights. It's not a free pass.

November 04 2013 at 3:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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