Earlier this week there was a major US ruling in the case of Katherine Evans. If you aren’t aware, Katherine Evans was
suspended in 2007 from Pembroke Pines Charter High School after she used her home computer to create a Facebook page titled, “Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever met.”
Now in college, she has sued the school to have the suspension removed from her permanent record (citing her First Amendment rights). Her principal disagreed and recently filed a motion to dismiss the case.
However, the court ruled against the Principal’s motion, arguing that the Facebook page was constitutionally protected. This means that the lawsuit can move forward.
How This Impacts Your Job Hunt
One Word: Complacency.
We have seen example after example of how your online postings can hurt your job search. In most instances, you will never even know your musings have cost you a job. As a result, you are forced to deal with the frustration of a longer job search without the benefit of finding out what the problem really is.
What concerns me is that this ruling will lead people to believe that they can post whatever they want on Social Networking sites. And while this is true, it can come at an extreme cost to your job hunt.
Let me put it this way. If you were an employer, would you hire Katherine Evans? To put it differently, if there were two final candidates (Katherine Evans and Jane Doe), both with identical qualifications, who would you choose? My guess is that Jane Doe would get the job. Hiring Katherine would add extra risk for the employer. In this case, they would most likely be wondering:
- What will she post online about me? The company? Her co-workers?
- Will she sue me if things don’t go her way?
These are risks that no employer wants to deal with and would certainly impact a hiring decision.
While you are technically free to post what ever you want on Social Networks, there can be harsh, unintended consequences in doing so. Ultimately, anything you post online can and will be used to evaluate you as a job candidate.
You can’t let decisions like this allow you to drop your guard. You need to be vigilant in protecting your online identity and reputation if you want to land your dream job.
Be mindful of what you post. It could come back to haunt you.