CHARLOTTE, NC (Karen Garloch/The Charlotte Observer) - An employee with Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center is no longer working at the Charlotte hospital after her recent Facebook posts drew criticism for being racist.
In recent days, the former employee angered some Facebook viewers when she posted comments referring to black people as "dead weight on the American economy" and saying that "when it comes to taking care of their children even dogs have more parental instincts than most blacks."
Hospital spokeswoman Caryn Klebba said the employee "no longer works for Novant Health" but would not say whether she resigned or was fired.
In an email, Klebba said: "It is unfortunate that comments made online by one individual acting independently have raised concerns about our organization. These comments neither reflect Novant Health, our beliefs or our behaviors, nor were they made on behalf of or by our organization."
Because the Observer was unable to contact the former employee to get her side of the story, the newspaper is not naming her in this article.
Posts called racist
Because Novant Health is a private organization, it is not required to make its personnel actions public. But the use of social media by public employees became an issue in Charlotte in 2014 when fire investigator Crystal Eschert was fired after describing someone in a Facebook post as a "thug," "worthless" and a "waste."
The city of Charlotte has a social media policy that says an employee's actions must align with the city's code of ethics. The first part of that code is that "we will treat all people with respect, fairness, and courtesy – both the public we serve as well as our co-workers."
In Columbia, S.C. the city has fired three Columbia firefighters over unprofessional Facebook postings aimed at Black Lives Matter protesters.
Anyone in the workplace – private or public – should be careful about the use of social media, said Anita Blanchard, an associate professor of psychology and organization science at UNC Charlotte.
"The First Amendment means you are not going to be put in jail (for what you say), but it does not mean at all that you get to keep your job," she said.
Blanchard said her students and friends are often shocked to hear that. "Employees need to be very aware that what they say online can directly affect their employment," she said. "If it reflects badly on your organization, the organization has the right to fire you."
Blanchard said court cases have mostly upheld disciplinary action by employers. But in a right-to-work state such as North Carolina, employers can fire workers for any reason.
Over the weekend, the former Novant Health employee exchanged Facebook posts with others, including one person who said the comments put "all black people into negative categories" and confirmed that "racism continues to exist in our country."
Here are excerpts from the former hospital employee's posts:
- “If I were a black female in America I would go live in the woods. I would be so ashamed of my race. To me it would be a curse to be black.”
- “They’ve got to go get their food stamps so they can sell them for cash to buy their weaves. so they can buy their hydrocodone and oxycontin off the street for $5 a pop and some are mostly likely they are (sic) searching for their Section 8 housing. Trying to pick out the perfect house with the above ground pool so their kids can fall and drown.”
- “I was raised in an all back (sic) neighborhood and I went to an all black high school.…I know there is a segment of your black community that behaves like animals because I have seen it myself.”
On Monday, someone posted a screen shot of the Facebook exchange on Twitter under the headline "Racist Employee @ Presbyterian Hospital in NC."
The tweet said, "i saw this on another popular blog website and felt like it was my duty to share these screenshots...she should be no where near patients, esp patients of color!"
Statement from Novant Health
It is unfortunate that comments made online by one individual acting independently have raised concerns about our organization. These comments neither reflect Novant Health, our beliefs or our behaviors, nor were they made on behalf of or by our organization.
Novant Health, our leaders and executive team do not tolerate or condone discriminatory behavior toward our team members, guests or patients, and we stand by our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Allegations of inappropriate behavior or behavior contrary to the core values of Novant Health are swiftly investigated by leadership and appropriate action is taken if necessary.