Frank Squires Elementary School teacher's aide Kimberly Hester of Cass County, Mich., was suspended after a conflict in which supervisors asked to see her personal Facebook profile and she refused.
The saga began in April 2011, when Hester posted an image on her Facebook profile page.
A friend had taken a photo of herself with her pants down and sent it to Hester, according to ABC News. It was apparently an inside joke, and Hester thought it was funny. The closely cropped photo showed the friend from the knees down, and it contained neither nudity nor identifying physical features.
It was very mild, no pornography, Hester told local news outlet WSBT. She obtained her friend's permission before posting the image online.
Hester happened to be a Facebook friend of a student's parent at the elementary school where she worked. The parent saw the post and deemed it inappropriate, eventually bringing it to the attention of school district superintendent Robert Colby.
Colby then called a meeting with Hester and asked her to log in to her profile and show him the picture. Hester refused. She was later served with a letter from the school district. [I]n the absence of you voluntarily granting [the] administration access to you[r] Facebook page, it read, we will assume the worst and act accordingly.
Hester was put on paid leave and eventually suspended. Later, she decided to take unpaid leave, which left her eligible for workman's compensation. Hester is now pursuing legal action against the school district with the help of her union. Arbitration is scheduled for May.
I did nothing wrong, Hester told WSBT. And I would not, still to this day, let them in my Facebook [account]. And I don't think it's OK for an employer to ask you.
No Michigan state laws currently exist to protect social media privacy at work, WSBT reported, but that may change. Michigan State Representative Matt Lori reached out to Hester last week and her experiences may influence the drafting of House Bill 5523, which would make it illegal for employers to demand access to employees' social media profiles.