Earlier this week, the Charlotte Observer published a story about a North Carolina-based restaurant chain, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, and its firing of a waitress who insulted a customer on her Facebook page while invoking the company name. (She ranted online about a tip she thought was too small: “Thanks for eating at Brixx, you cheap piece of s*** camper.” Of course, she did not use asterisks.)
Evil Skippy: She called the customer a camper? How rude. No wonder she was fired. She should have just spit in the food and kept quiet about it.
The Associated Press and Huffington Post jumped on the story, which has now been the subject of thousands of comments and tweets. Of course, Facebook itself continues to be in the middle of the fray. My very unscientific review of the postings that are bombarding Brixx’s Facebook page shows a clear division between people supporting the waitress (“Boycott! Boycott!”) and those on the restaurant’s side (“Clear rule! Rude waitress!”).
All I can say is that I am glad that Facebook did not exist when I worked as a waiter way back in the Dark Ages. I once followed a pair of cheap and drunk diners out to the parking lot to return the $1.00 tip they had left after a $50 dinner tab. Evil Skippy took over my power of speech and told them that they must need the money more than I did, so perhaps next time they should dine at McDonald’s. (No, I was not fired. The boss thought it was hysterical and complimented me for my restraint. He was weird. Plus, this was before the Frozen Margarita Incident.)
Facebook and social media forums are here to stay. Employers have to decide how important the issue is for them and what to do about it. Companies that rely on the public’s good will (restaurants and retail establishments, for example) have more at stake and need to clearly define what is and is not allowed by employees who use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or whatever new came out today while I was blogging.
At the bottom line, it all boils down to fairness. As an employer, companies must be clear about workplace rules and regulations so employees know what to expect. As employees, individuals have a responsibility to obey the clear rules (so long as the rules are legal, of course). Brixx Wood Fired Pizza is getting a ton of negative publicity right now, but from the Facebook postings and online commentaries it appears that they are also getting a similar amount of support. Why? Because Brixx had a clear policy and the waitress signed it when she was hired. Without the clear policy, I imagine that Brixx would be having a much worse public relations week than it already is.
So employers — unless you do not care at all about what your employees say about your operations in public forums — you need a policy about social media communications. And employees — unless you love unemployment paperwork and job hunting — you need to know the rules and remember that not everyone on Facebook is actually your “friend.” (It seems as though one of the waitress’s “friends” showed her rant to management). Privacy rights are great, but Facebook simply is not private.
There is a lot of information online about social media policies. One of my favorite articles on the subject is by Daniel Hoang – it sets out a framework for developing a great policy and provides sample language.
As for Brixx, I suppose the customers should just be grateful that the waitress only posted on Facebook. I had always thought the favored way to get even with rude restaurant patrons is to mess with their food.
Evil Skippy chortles. What makes you think she didn’t?