We have been following a line of cases where teachers (and here and here and here and here and here), city managers, lunch ladies, police officers (and here), coaches, students and others have been fired for lawful conduct committed in their private lives. These cases are also occurring abroad in countries like England. We can now add Jessie Lunderby, a 21-year-old jailer in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Washington County Sheriff’s officer has been suspended after she participated in a nude photo shoot for playboy.com.
Launderby’s June 7th Cybergirl appearance did not please her bosses, who suspended her and started an investigation that may lead to her termination.
The photos included a bio section that referred to her employment as a detention officer with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Tim Helder (right) was outraged: “It just beams directly back to this organization….Does it represent what we stand for which is to protect and serve the community? Is that how we want to be represented?” I would say no. What it represents is a woman who is pursuing a lawful activity in her private life. Moreover, Lunderby says that she informed her superiors.
The suspension is based on her violation of a provision that bans conduct considered “unbecoming of an officer.” It is a wildly ambiguous standard when applied to the private lives of officers. Lunderby did nothing illegal and whether such pictures are “unbecoming” is much in the eye of the beholder.