Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So You Wanted to Start a Sex Blog...

image:: The Beautiful Kind, Riverfront Times, by Emily Good

A Twitter glitch caused the anonymous St. Louis sex blogger behind The Beautiful Kind to get outed when her boss found her after instructed to start Googling employees' names. This Riverfront Times blog details the issues and the legal implications of the firing. The ex-boss sent a letter implying that the company feels justified in holding employees' lives outside of work to be a occupational qualification. Here's an excerpt of that lettert::
"We simply cannot risk any possible link between our mission and the sort of photos and material that you openly share with the online public. While I know you are a good worker and an intelligent person, I hope you try to understand that our employees are held to a different standard. When it comes to private matters, such as one's sexual explorations and preferences, our employees must keep their affairs private."
The blogger was on the job for about a month and was conscientious about presenting a demure image at work. So, it sounds like the 37-year-old single mom was more akin to Kelly McGillis in Witness than a tatted-up wild child with a libido hanging out for all to see::
"I was really Clark Kent about it...I dressed like a freaking Mormon when I went in. I was really overcautious and did an extra-good job. Because I always thought that if they ever did find out about it, I would have proved myself so much that they would weigh the pros and cons and decide to proceed a certain way that, you know, wouldn't fire me. But I wasn't there long enough to do that, and I don't think it would have made a difference anyway, with the way they reacted. It's like -- I went from good employee to monster."
Just going off of the general details of the case, an ACLU lawyer offered::
"One of the unfortunate things is that a lot of people are uncomfortable about unconventional sexuality, especially when a woman's involved...That is not an employer's job -- to police the sexual lives of its employees -- and when an employer discriminates on that basis it is sex discrimination and it's against the law."
One can't help but wonder if the same result would have happened with a male employee. This blog post on aagblog details how the firing went down and the emotional aftermath.

I once had a boss who made the illegal statement, "we like families," right when I started working there. I thought it was a strange thing to say and was wondering, "who do I look like, Angelina Jolie?", but with 20/20 hindsight, it made perfect sense. That workplace was not only highly conventional but also none too savvy about the law in its bumpkinness. I thought my workplace had no business in my personal life or the fact that I didn't live in the same zip code, which I found out later was taboo.

I think it sets a dangerous precedent for employers to have the ability to make hiring/firing decisions based upon non-performance criteria. The idea of an employees' "reputation" being in the control of an employer because it may affect the employers' reputation is in my opinion a stretch. I looked at the entries from The Beautiful Kind. Maybe I'm just a child of the West coast with urban sensibilities, but I fail to see what the big deal is, particularly when the employee wasn't flaunting her lifestyle by linking her real name to her blog. The only reason this became an issue was the glitch.

While there will be many a finger-wagger clucking about what people should and should not post on the Internet, perhaps the real issue, given how the Internet makes everyday life more transparent and privacy is deader than dead, is that organizations and institutions need to relax the scrutiny and ease up on controlling people's lives. The alternative is a morality driven not by church or community but by the employee handbook.

Song:: The Gleaming Spires-'Are You Ready for the Sex Girls?'

Twitterversion:: [blog] St.L.sex blogger fired due to #Twitter glitch, after boss Googled names.Will morality now come fr. employee handbk? @Prof_K

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