An employee recently was terminated for his inflammatory Facebook comments in which he condoned violence against police officers. The employee, Aaron Hodges, identified himself as a sales associate at a Nordstrom store in Portland, Oregon, on his Facebook page, and used what appears to be a photo of himself at work as his profile picture. In a Facebook conversation regarding recent police shootings, Hodges commented: “Instead of slamming the police, I prefer a Kenny Fort approach. Every time an unarmed black man is killed, you kill a decorated white officer, on his door step in front of his family.”
A screen shot of Hodges’ Facebook page and comments was circulated via social media, including to Nordstrom’s Twitter handle. Many commentators suggested that Nordstrom take action. Below is one of the more subtle examples:
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) December 12, 2014
After being notified of Hodges’ statements, Nordstrom terminated the employee. It also responded to the various tweets it had received on the subject.
The story garnered nationwide media attention in the days following Nordstrom’s termination of Hodges’ employment. Of course, some social media commentators then reacted negatively to Nordstrom’s decision. Nordstrom responded to those comments, as well.
This incident presents another example of the difficult decisions that an employer can face when an employee posts controversial material on his or her social media accounts. Employers should review their social media policies to ensure that they are prepared for these situations and continue to train their employees on what kinds of activities such policies permit and do not permit.