November 21, 2012

Nonprofit Fires Employees After Facebook Photo Causes Controversy

A small Massachusetts nonprofit has fired two employees who were involved with posting a controversial photo on Facebook.

The photo, which depicted one of the employees holding up her middle finger at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, sparked a social-media firestorm that engulfed their employer, LIFE Cape Cod, a Massachusetts nonprofit that provides residential programs for adults with learning and intellectual disabilities.

The photo, which was posted to the personal Facebook page of former LIFE employee Lindsey Stone, was taken while she and seven other LIFE employees were accompanying residents on a trip to Washington.

Ms. Stone's posting has since gone viral, according to the Web site A Facebook page called "Fire Lindsey Stone" was created Monday to pressure the nonprofit to take action.

The protest group, which has generated more than 7,000 likes, also posted contact information for Ms. Stone, a co-worker who took the photograph, and the nonprofit's executive director, Diane Enochs.

The Chronicle was unable to reach either Ms. Enochs nor Ms. Stone for comment.

Ms. Stone had removed the photo from her Facebook page and apologized. But the controversy nonetheless prompted the charity to fire both employees.

"We deeply regret any disrespect to members of the military and their families," the charity said in a posting on its Facebook page that announced the firing of Ms. Stone and Ms. Enochs. "The incident and publicity has been very upsetting to the learning disabled population we serve."

Does your nonprofit have a social-media policy for employees? How would your organization handle a situation in which one of its employees posted a controversial photo online? Post a comment to share your thoughts.