CBS Fires Exec Over Las Vegas Post – Not Just Cause

by Samfiru Tumarkin


Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 at 3:49 pm


CBS Fires Lawyer over Las Vegas Comment

CBS has fired a top legal executive after she stated that she was “not even sympathetic” for the victims of the shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, which occurred Sunday, October 1st.

Vice president Hayley Geftman-Gold posted the comment on her Facebook account after the Sunday, October 1st attack which left 59 people dead and over 500 injured.

“I’m actually not even sympathetic bc [sic] country music fans are Republican gun toters [sic],” wrote Geftman-Gold on Facebook about the tragic incident that occurred at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.

Her comments were shared across multiple social media platforms and on various television and radio programs, where they received widespread condemnation.

A CBS spokesperson told media that Geftman-Gold “violated the standards of our company and is no longer an employee of CBS. Her views as expressed on social media are deeply unacceptable to all of us at CBS. Our hearts go out to the victims in Las Vegas and their families.”

In her statement of apology, Geftman-Gold said, “I posted an indefensible post in Facebook discussion thread concerning the tragic Las Vegas shooting, in a statement I sincerely regret. My shameful comments do not reflect the beliefs of my former employer, colleagues, family and friends.”

In the News:

Las Vegas Comment: a ‘For Cause’ Dismissal?

While Geftman-Gold’s facebook comments can be considered highly inappropriate, are they enough to spark a for cause dismissal?

Generally, an employee cannot be disciplined or fired for comments made on personal social media accounts. A termination would be appropriate only if the employee’s statements will have a direct impact on the workplace, and the person is easily identified as an employee of the company. An employer does have a right to protect its reputation by letting go an employee whose social media statements are going to directly and negatively impact the employer.

In Canada, an employer will not likely be able to fire, for cause, and employee whose statements are offensive to the employer, unless the statements will impact the workplace. In the case of the CBS lawyer Hayley Geftman-Gold, if this occurred in Canada, that would not likely be cause for dismissal. If cause cannot be established, the outgoing employee would be owed severance.

When Social Media Can Lead to Termination

An example of where controversial comments on social media could spark a for cause dismissal can be seen in a recent case involving a post-secondary lecturer. Earlier this year, Ryerson students complained about social media comments made by engineering sessional lecturer Brian Petz.

The Eyeopener reported that over a year-long period, Petz discussed controversial political views on immigration and religion via his public Facebook account. One post referenced the Holocaust, while another suggested violence towards a presidential candidate in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“It is unfortunate that these alleged comments have been made public,” Petz told The Eyeopener when asked for comment in March 2017.

In this day and age, one cannot treat a social media platform, such as Facebook or Twitter, like a private forum. Whether you post comments to your private or public feed, others are very likely to see and share your content. When others view controversial online comments, there may be consequences.

The problem with someone like Mr. Petz, a university lecturer, is that he deals with members of the public. His face and name are prominent. He is not working anonymously in the mail room. It is therefore reasonable to expect that whatever he says will be a reflection upon his employer. Petz has a responsibility to make to sure that his comments will not offend readers, and cause them to think negatively of Ryerson University.

If you hold a public role within a business or company, you must be aware of the impact your comments on social media could have.

SEE ALSO: Social Media and the Workplace

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