Kentucky health-care worker fired over inflammatory Ferguson post

Company officials alerted to post on employee's personal Facebook account
By Steve Bittenbender
||Last Updated: 12/08/2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) — A Kentucky healthcare worker who called people protesting a fatal police shooting in Missouri "cockroaches" in a personal Facebook post has been fired, her employer said on Thursday.

"Just an excuse to act more like the animals they are... " read Renea French Rainey's post, which was published by Insider Louisville, an online news site. "Real ammo not rubber!!!!! The authorities have betrayed their law abiding, peaceful citizens by allowing this to happen. If you shot a few of them the others would scatter like the cockroaches they are!!!!!"

Rainey was fired on Tuesday from her job at a Norton Healthcare immediate care center in Louisville, "because of a violation of our social media policy," said Tom Johnson, a company spokesman.

The fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, in August by a white police officer has sparked protests and inflamed national debate over the treatment of minorities by law enforcement.

While the post was not on an official Norton account, company officials were alerted to it by local activists, Insider Louisville said. Rainey listed her employer as Norton on her personal page.

Her Facebook page is now listed as unavailable, and she could not be reached for comment.

Norton, which employs more than 12,000 people across 140 Kentucky and Indiana locations, will remind employees on Friday about its social media policy, Johnson said.

Rainey was not the first person to be fired over a social media post about the Ferguson controversy. A police officer in Glendale, Missouri, lost his job in August for comments he made on Facebook during the protests.

Jason Falls, a social media expert and a senior vice president of digital strategy with Elasticity, a digital ad agency in Louisville, said the more the national media covers an issue, the more likely it is people will comment about it on social media, and they have to be careful.

He urged social media users to make sure they have permission to list their employer on their personal sites, and said companies need to ensure their policies outline how they expect their employees to act on social media outlets.

"There is freedom of speech, but what we don't have is freedom from accountability," Falls said.

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