Indiana University Health employee Taiyesha Baker is reportedly out of a job after a tweet from an account named “Night Nurse” was traced to her. In the tweet, Baker reportedly called for white male children to “be sacrificed to the wolves.” We have previously discussed the issue of when it is appropriate to punishment people for conduct outside of the work place. We have followed cases where people have been fired after boorish or insulting conduct once their names and employers are made known. (here and here and here and here). I often come down on the side of free speech, but some cases directly impact the employer and the underlying business or services. This may be one such case, but it, again, raises the question of what political and social views are protected for employees to express in social media or on their personal time.
The media reported reported the controversy over a tweet reading
“Every white woman raises a detriment to society when they raise a son. Someone with the HIGHEST propensity to be a terrorist, rapist, racist, killer, and domestic violence all star. Historically every son you had should be sacrificed to the wolves bitch.”
Making things worse is that Baker claimed to work in pediatrics.
While the university would not say if it fired the nurse, it confirmed that she no longer working at the hospital. When the tweet came to light, the university issued a statement that “IU Health is aware of several troubling posts on social media which appear to be from a recently hired IU Health employee. Our HR department continues to investigate the situation and the authenticity of the posts. During the investigation, that employee (who does not work at Riley Hospital for Children) will have no access to patient care.”
Obviously, some patients would be likely reluctant to entrust their children with a staff containing openly racist nurses. Baker could argue that she never identified Indiana Hospital as her employer and made these comments entirely in her private time. It took research to tie the Indiana University to controversy. The problem is that she expresses a total lack of empathy (if not open animosity) for some of the pediatric patients in her care. While she may have been engaging in shock hyperbole under the protection of anonymity, the concern over her care being influenced by such racist views was obvious.
What if she did not speak of her nursing job and merely espoused racist views on social media? Do you think that she should still be fired if tracked down or would you allow her to remain as long as her view did not impact her work as a nurse?