Is there a bathtub shortage? (Editor’s notes)

Internet immortalizes bad judgement
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/11/2009

OK, enough already. It may have taken a while to get here, but we’ve finally reached a tipping point. This plea is directed at employees of all ages, with a special emphasis on Generation Y and the Millennials: Please, please, please stop posting photos and videos online of the ridiculous things you do at work and at parties. It’s making you look a tad silly.

The tipping point came last month when three Kentucky Fried Chicken employees in California decided to use a restaurant sink as — wait for it — a bathtub. And, no, they weren’t bathing chickens. They were in the sink themselves, reportedly wearing underwear and swimwear, surrounded by bubbles. And, yes, they decided to capture the moment for posterity and post the pics on MySpace. The employees were suspended and then fired, according to Rick Maynard, a KFC spokesperson.

I was going to give these workers points for originality but then I stumbled across an August news item from Ohio that stated health officials were investigating after (yep, you guessed it) employees at a local Burger King posted a four-minute video on MySpace showing a nude worker taking a bath in a restaurant sink. All the employees involved were fired. (Is there a bathtub shortage in California and Ohio?)

We’ve all been teenagers. We all know young people do — and always have done — silly things. No problem, it’s a rite of passage. But what has changed is the ability to disseminate these shenanigans all over the world. All it takes is one click of the mouse, and there’s no going back. Whatever you post is now a permanent fixture on the web — once it’s online, you have no control over where it’s going and how it might be used.

But in these fast-food bathtub scenarios, there’s no real harm done. Sure, the restaurants took a bit of a PR hit. But these are just teenagers working part time for minimum wage. Surely, professional people would never put themselves in a… OK, I think you know where this is going.

Ever heard of Jon Favreau? Google that name, or look him up on Wikipedia. He’s Barack Obama’s director of speechwriting. That’s a pretty lofty title, writing for one of the great orators of our time. But you’ll also notice he’s famous for something else — a photo that was posted on Facebook of him at a party groping a cardboard cutout of Hilary Clinton. Favreau was forced to make a rather uncomfortable apology to Clinton. Luckily, she wasn’t offended, and he got to keep his job.

Hospital workers in New Mexico weren’t so lucky. They were fired after they decided it would be a good idea to take pictures of grisly injuries in the emergency room with their cellphones, posting them to MySpace.

And it’s not just pics that get people in hot water — information posted on social networking sites is being called as evidence in some trials.

We’ve all done silly things. But the Internet has changed the rules, and anything that gets posted could be around to haunt you for a very long time.

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