Sunday, March 24, 2013

Firing of tech developer who outed inappropriate comments

Another instance of jokes now being dangerous

The company that fired a female tech developer who tweeted about comments she overheard at a Santa Clara conference said in a blog post that "publicly shaming" the men was inappropriate and she had to be terminated for alienating the developer community.

But that firing could be hard to defend in court, say labor law attorneys.  "It's a tough one," said Rob Pattison, a San Francisco attorney who represents employers for the Jackson Lewis law firm. "The law is strong in protecting people who make complaints of harassment, or who participate in an investigation about complaints of harassment."

Adria Richards, a San Francisco "developer evangelist" for SendGrid, an email delivery company, tweeted a photo of a group of men sitting behind her at Sunday's PyCon conference who made a comment about "big dongles."

Richards' tweet set off a social media tsunami with ominous overtones, including threats and name-calling directed at Richards. The fallout led to her firing, as well as the dismissal of one of the men in the photo by his employer, PlayHaven, a San Francisco mobile-game company.

Richards' former boss, SendGrid CEO Jim Franklin, wrote on the company's blog that Richards was fired because "A SendGrid developer evangelist's responsibility is to build and strengthen our Developer Community across the globe. In light of the events over the last 48+ hours, it has become obvious that her actions have strongly divided the same community she was supposed to unite. As a result, she can no longer be effective in her role at SendGrid."

"Her decision to tweet the comments and photographs of the people who made the comments crossed the line," Franklin wrote. "Publicly shaming the offenders -- and bystanders -- was not the appropriate way to handle the situation."


It's a sad day if a company cannot fire a bitchy employee


Anonymous said...

Here's another case of a trendy technology (so-called smart phones) causing great harm to people, just as places like facebook, youtube, and twitter do. These privacy-killing technologies have far outpaced peoples intellectual capacity to deal with them.

Human nature being what it is, the majority of people will do just about anything for attention and/or "notoriety". And very rarely are they smart enough to think of the possible consequences, until it's too late.

Today, thanks to technology, everyone is a walking TV studio, with instant digital audio/video, and still picture capability. Never do they stop and think of what harm they can, and usually, do.

Liz said...

If she is such a whiney little twit at a conference, I bet she is a whiney little twit at work. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

The reason given for dismissal sounds perfectly reasonable. She may have intended to embarrass her coworkers and managed to embarrass her employer. Not too smart.