These Social Media Fails Got People Fired

Take heed from these eight folks who made some serious judgment slips over social media.

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By Carolyn Sun

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you're a police officer, posting a Vine in which you joke about stealing cocaine from the evidence room is probably not the best idea. Richard Hy, a cop from Buffalo, New York, found that out that out the hard way when, after posting said Vine, he was suspended without pay.

Unfortunately, Hy's not alone in miscalculating what is and isn't appropriate to post on social media. And compared with the following individuals, he's lucky: he kept his job (so far).

Take heed from these seven folks who made some serious judgment slips over social media -- and got the old pink slip.

Related: 7 Social Media Fails So Disastrous, They Shocked the Experts

1. The former-Chipotle employee who dissed his wages in a tweet, got fired, sued Chipotle and won.

Last year, 38-year-old war veteran James Kennedy took to Twitter to complain about the low wages Chipotle paid to its crew members following a free food promotion.

His tweet read: "@ChipotleTweets, nothing is free, only cheap #labor. Crew members make only $8.50hr how much is that steak bowl really?"

Kennedy later deleted his tweet after a supervisor showed him the company's social-media policy, which states that an employee cannot make "disparaging, false" statements about Chipotle publicly. Following another incident involving his asking for shift breaks, he was let go.

However, the buck didn't stop there. Kennedy took Chipotle to court for his wrongful termination -- and won.

The court found in favor of Kennedy and stated that Chipotle's social-media policy violated federal labor laws and ordered the casual dining restaurant chain to rehire Kennedy and pay him lost wages. The court-case victor, who now has a job with American Airlines and has no plans returning to Chipotle, says that he will accept his lost wages in the form of Chipotle food vouchers. (Now that's customer loyalty.)

2. The Yelp employee who posted an article on Medium about her low pay.

Last month Talia Jane posted a very public letter to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelmann on Medium, in which she complained the company paid her so little she was forced to spend 80 percent of her paycheck on rent.

Jane won't be getting anymore Yelp paychecks in future. Promptly after posting the Medium letter, she was informed by Yelp's HR department that her actions violated Yelp's "Terms of Conduct" and was canned.

Unsurprisingly, she took to social media -- this time, posting a tweet -- to share the news with her followers.

3. The publicist who tweeted a joke about getting AIDS before takeoff on a flight to Africa.

Justine Sacco, once the senior director of communications at media company IAC, which owns Tinder and The Daily Beast, was boarding a flight to South Africa when she tweeted the following:

"Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!"

While she was in the air, her tweet went viral. By the time she landed, she was the number-one worldwide trend on Twitter. She was sacked soon afterwards.

4. The comedian who tweeted jokes about the tsunami in Japan.

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried was once the voice for the Aflac duck. However, following a series of flippant jokes about the 2011 tsunami in Japan that killed over 3,000 people, his distinctive voice wasn't enough to save him.

His tweets included the following:

"Japan called me. They said 'maybe those jokes are a hit in the U.S., but over here, they're all sinking."

Another read:

"Japan is really advanced. They don't go to the beach. The beach comes to them."

Less than an hour after posting the tweets, Gottfried was relieved of his duck-duties.

Related: Take Care to Learn From These 4 Big Social-Media Blunders

5. The former-MLB pitcher who drunk-tweeted racially offensive comments during a game.

Beware of drunk-tweeting. In 2010, Mike Bacsik, a former MLB pitcher who went on to work as a Dallas radio producer for a sports broadcast, attended an NBA match in which the San Antonio Spurs beat the Dallas Mavericks.

After the game, Bacsik tweeted: "Congrats to all the dirty Mexicans in San Antonio."

While Bacsik was reportedly drunk when he posted the tweet, that wasn't a good enough excuse for his employer. Soon after, he lost his job.

6. The recent college graduate who tweeted how much she hated her new job.

Bragging about a job offer on Twitter and insulting the company that offered you said job is not a smart move. Conner Riley, a 22-year-old recent with a degree in information management (ahem), found that out the hard way.

After being offered a position from California tech company Cisco in 2009, Riley tweeted:

"Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work."

Her tweet elicited a huge response on Twitter -- including from a Cisco associate who responded he'd be happy to pass her sentiments on to HR. Suffice it to say, her job offer disappeared.

7. The Taco Bell employee who tweeted a photo of himself urinating on the food.

In 2012, Taco Bell employee Cameron Jankowski of Fort Wayne, Ind., tweeted a photo of himself urinating on a plate of nachos. He later claimed he never served the dish.

His tweet elicited the expected outrage, and the infamous hacker group Anonymous (yes, the one that claimed to be behind the Ashley Madison hack scandal) got involved and released a YouTube video containing Jankowski's personal information.

Soon after, he was let go from Taco Bell. In what was probably a wise decision, he also deleted his Twitter account.

Related: Was Hostess' Bizarre #OpeningDay Tweet an Epic Fail or Savvy Social Media Marketing?

8. The extra on Glee who tweeted spoilers.

When Nicole Crowther, an extra on the now-canceled Fox show Glee, tweeted out who was crowned prom queen and king in a not-yet-aired episode in 2011, Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk responded by tweeting:

"Hope you're qualified to do something besides work in entertainment…Who are you to spoil something talented people have spent months to create?"

Although Crowther claims she didn't work on that particular episode and got her information second hand, she got fired from the show anyway.

Carolyn Sun

Carolyn Sun is a freelance writer for Find out more on Twitter and Facebook


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