A Georgia teacher, Ashley Payne, has lost her lawsuit seeking damages after she said she was forced out due to a Facebook picture taken of her drinking in Europe. A teacher or parent had filed an anonymous complaint against Payne for photos showing her holding drinks in Europe — not normally a shocking image.
The problem is that Payne resigned under pressure and Barrow County argued that such a voluntary departure forecloses a lawsuit of this kind. While we recently saw a court rule that such voluntary departures did not prevent recovery of benefits when caused by a hostile work environment, Superior Court Judge Chief David Motes found the fact to be dispositive under state law.
Her lawyer has filed an amended complaint in the hopes of reviving the action.
We have seen a disturbing trend of teachers, students, and public employees punished for photos and associations in their private lives. She is not the first to resign only to later regret the decision. Teachers need to stay and fight for their right to have personal and independent lives. The person who filed this complaint was likely a crank, but even if there was greater opposition, Payne should not have yielded to such abuse.