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Teacher’s Aide Fired for Refusing to Let Employers Access Her Facebook Account

Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

A few schools have made the news lately for over-policing students’ social media accounts.

Now it seems to be happening to employees, too, because a Michigan teacher’s aide claims she was fired for refusing to give her bosses access to her Facebook page.

Kimberly Hester says about a year ago, she posted a joking photo to her page that depicted a co-worker’s pants around her ankles with the caption “Thinking of you.”

A student’s parent saw the picture and complained to school administrators — and even though Hester was on her own personal time and didn’t use the school’s computer, superintendent Robert Colby demanded access to her Facebook page to see what else she’d posted, a practice that’s become known as “shoulder-surfing.”

When Hester refused, Colby sent her a letter that said in part, “…in the absence of you voluntarily granting [the school] administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly.”

She was then placed on administrative leave and later suspended, but she’s fighting back and has an arbitration hearing slated for next month.

Michigan doesn’t yet have a law on the books prohibiting what Colby did, but Hester said State Rep. Matt Lori has already been in touch, expressing interest in including her story in proposed legislation that would make it illegal for Michigan employers to ask workers for social media passwords.

“I did nothing wrong,” Hester said. “And I would not, still to this day, let them in my Facebook. And I don’t think it’s OK for an employer to ask you.”


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