Finding that “sometimes there are second chances and that compassion is a quality rightly valued in our society” New York Supreme Court Appellate Division overturned a lower court, which upheld elementary school teacher an elementary school teacher’s dismissal, stemming from an inappropriate Facebook post. Christine Rubino posted her comments the day after a student drowned during a school trip to the beach. Rubino wrote on her Facebook page, “after today I am thinking the beach sounds like a wonderful idea” and other assorted inappropriate comments.
The court asserted that the test for Rubino’s dismissal is whether termination “shock[ed] one’s sense of fairness.”. Here the court found that her otherwise unblemished 15 year professional record, the fact that she was not Facebook friends anyone any else associated with the school and her repeated apologies justified the reversal.
The case, Rubino v City of New York, NY App. Div. No. 03272. 05/07/13 represents something less than the zero-tolerance approach society seems to call for in instances where employees make inappropriate posts. Rather it seems to support the theory I asserted in my article The Death of Slander, 35 Colum. J. Law & Arts 17 (2011) that postings, tweets and texts are more akin to the thoughtless off-handed comments than to words written with reflection and should be treated as such.