Poll: was Brixx right to fire Ashley Johnson for her Facebook comment? | CLT Blog

Poll: was Brixx right to fire Ashley Johnson for her Facebook comment?

Posted on 18 May 2010 by Justin Ruckman

Ashley gets a $5 tip for a couple who sat at a table for three hours. She goes on Facebook and complains, mentioning Brixx. A Facebook “friend” (disgruntled coworker?) tattles to Brixx management and Ashley gets fired. Read the original report by Eric Frazier at the Charlotte Observer.

So now the story is national news, but let’s not get carried away. Her free speech rights weren’t violated: she doesn’t face any legal trouble and is bound by the terms of her contract for a private company.

But did Brixx go overboard? Could this have been a More You Know moment where everyone learns and moves on? She only had 100-ish followers anyway, and her profile was private.

[poll id=“4”]

And why?

Also don’t miss the mobs blowing up Brixx’s Facebook page.


  1. debby 18 May 2010 at 4:49 PM

    My daughter got fired from her job for leaving a comment about her work too, and it was not nasty or distasteful, just a bad day post. I think it is so unfair. I think things have gotten carried away, and we have lost our freedom of speech!

    • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
      Justin Ruckman 18 May 2010 at 5:18 PM

      Freedom of speech? Nobody was pursued by the law here. Private companies have a right to require certain behaviors from those they employ.

    • Kerr1ck 18 May 2010 at 6:04 PM

      If you were a business owner would you really be alright with one of your employees making public or semipublic complaints/associating negative experiences (all of which may or may not be fairly recounted or true at all) to your business? Hard to believe.

      • Kyle 19 May 2010 at 6:53 AM

        It was on a closed Facebook profile. It was not in public. It would be like me complaining to you in your living room as a friend and you taking a tape recorded discussion that was meant to be in private to my work. It was a violation of her privacy and a violation of her first amendment rights. She said nothing bad about the restaurant. She b*tched about the bad tippers. Servers earn on average $3 an hour in NC and depend on tips. That situation was horrific.

  2. Tina 18 May 2010 at 4:51 PM

    They were looking for a reason to get rid of people. If that was really an issue, then the first strike would have been to be written up, not automatically fired. That is such BS!

    • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
      Justin Ruckman 18 May 2010 at 5:19 PM

      Perhaps this wasn’t her first strike? I’m not trying to badmouth the girl, she could just have easily been one of their best employees. But the fact is we don’t know the full background.

  3. Pat 18 May 2010 at 4:54 PM

    At the most, she should have been called into the boss’s office and been told that this was against company policy. Better yet, the company should have told all employees during training and orientation that this was against company policy and was a fire-able offense. But to commit one small infraction and lose your job over it, is excessive. If they had told her not to do it again, and then she did it again, I could see firing her but not for a “first offense”, and especially if it had not previously been covered by the company.

    • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
      Justin Ruckman 18 May 2010 at 5:20 PM

      Agreed. This could have been a great opportunity to teach everyone a serious lesson.

    • Kyle 19 May 2010 at 6:55 AM

      It was a private/closed discussion on Facebook. Her boss should have never seen it. Nor should have the public. Her privacy was violated by one of her “friends” on Facebook.

  4. Jef 18 May 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Brixx has a policy stating you can’t write bad things about the company on social networking sites. She broke the rule and got fired. They didn’t just fire her because of what she said — she broke the policy which she was aware of when she was hired.

  5. Mark 18 May 2010 at 5:04 PM

    I have a hunch that you guys (and most media) have one part of this story wrong and are missing a bigger angle. How do we know if she was actually ratted out by a facebook connection of hers?

    Unless you set your privacy settings correctly on facebook your status updates are now automatically aggregated to facebook pages that have keywords in your post.

    Just search for Brixx in facebook right now and you’ll see what I mean.

    • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
      Justin Ruckman 18 May 2010 at 5:24 PM

      Ashley told the Charlotte Observer that her Facebook profile is set to private, and she only accepts people she knows. Even with Facebook’s new privacy policy, if you set your profile to private, your posts are not shared outside your friend network.

      The only way this post could have come to Brixx’s management’s attention would have been through one of her Facebook friends. Granted, it could be a situation where it was left up on a computer by her or a friend or something, but it’s not an issue of Facebook’s privacy policy.

      • Seriously? 18 May 2010 at 6:22 PM

        I’m not sure that is accurate info. On the HOME (live feed) page of Facebook I’ve been able to see “posts” made by people I am not friends with simply because one of my FB friends has commented on that post. I have my FB stuff on lockdown…well, if “the man’ would stop jackin’ with it every other week. I go in and manage it often, but so far I’ve not been able to find a trigger to prevent that from happening without also disabling friends from posting to my FB wall.

        • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
          Justin Ruckman 18 May 2010 at 6:38 PM

          It just depends on your privacy settings. For things you post on Facebook, you can choose from the following privacy settings:

          • Everyone
          • Friends and Networks
          • Friends of Friends
          • Only Friends

          So if you have your profile locked down completely to “Only Friends”, then even friends of friends won’t be able to see this info.

          There’s the possibility though that even though she *thought* her profile was completely private, she hadn’t been thorough enough with her settings. Which is the problem at large right now with Facebook: that their privacy settings, though clear for the initiated, make it too easy for some people who would rather be private to have their content exposed.

      • Mark 18 May 2010 at 8:11 PM

        Hey Justin,

        Your point really is based off of what we read second hand off of Ashley’s understanding of her privacy settings. Perhaps it’s just me but when I probe most people about the privacy settings almost all think they are pretty much locked up until you start to explain some things.

        I think most people haven’t paid too much attention to what is going on in the facebook controls recently and have no idea that they need to manually choose to opt out of disclosures instead of opt in.

        Did you happen to look at the Brixx search I mention and see all the people’s status updates in the page? Do you think any of those parties whose status messages list Brixx thought their privacy settings allowed them to post their complete status messages to another page to parties they have no connection with? I’m taking a pretty safe bet here to say that I would gander most did not.

        I agree that it is possible that in Ashely’s case a facebook friend forwarded her post, but I also think it is just as likely that her post appeared on a public page without her complete knowledge/understanding, a page that was probably being looked at by Brixx management on occasion. Ironically the page in question had nothing to do with the restaurant until this!

        Just my thoughts.

  6. Kerr1ck 18 May 2010 at 6:00 PM

    It could be because of the environment I work in (corporate, as opposed to retail/service) but it’s blazingly obvious to me that you do NOT make negative comments (or any really) while also naming the place where you work. If the policy this individual agreed to at the time of hiring said this was a fireable offense then…oh well! It may be harsh (I happen to think it is, a bit) but those were the rules agreed to.

    If not then on the one hand Brixx might do well to have better standards in place for what is and isn’t okay on social networking sites, but also we have to step back and wonder if we know all the story (which we likely do not)

    • Kerr1ck 18 May 2010 at 6:06 PM

      As an aside, the poll really needs a “It depends/not enough information” option…

  7. Kumar Reddy 18 May 2010 at 6:06 PM

    I work in office next door to Brixx. And we almost hang out twice in a week there. it is such a nice place to eat and drink, when you are really stressed out with work.

    It’s unfortunate to see someone fired about a status message in a social networking site. I am not here to debate who is right and who is wrong. Every one has their own policies and as an employee I think we should be adhere to them.

    But, this tells me one thing. How social networking has infiltrated our lives. And I will be careful what I post now on. Lesson learned and point taken.

    Kumar Reddy

  8. Seriously? 18 May 2010 at 6:15 PM

    Obviously, this is a lose-lose situation. Management had an opportunity to make an ‘executive decision’ and enforce their policy with a verbal/written warning rather than termination. Now they are being vilified in the media. The universe either promotes you or exposes you, and I think in this case “Brixx” and the questionable way they interpreted their policy is being exposed. Ashley is being promoted (championed even on Facebook) and will, no doubt, find a better job. Perhaps a job at Dick’s where they encourage rude behavior. But I digress. She is human and she made the mistake of venting after a long, frustrating day. It was poor judgment that didn’t warrant the loss of her job. It’s too bad. Brixx has good pizza, a nice environment, and a great location…but I have trouble spending my money in a place where employees freedom of speech and privacy is violated. Brixx has just gotten the very thing they were trying to avoid…disparaging remarks about them and their ‘customers’ on an epic scale, and tongue lashing from here to kingdom-come. BRAVO manager(s)…BRAVO.

    • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
      Justin Ruckman 18 May 2010 at 6:19 PM

      That’s exactly how these things seem to go sometime — an effort to manage PR through their employee’s presence on social networks backfires and gives them 1000x more of what they were trying to avoid.

  9. Avatar of Justin Ruckman
    Justin Ruckman 18 May 2010 at 6:20 PM

    It’s interesting that the poll numbers were leaning slightly in favor of Brixx before we posted this on Facebook, and now they’re firmly in the Ashley camp.

    • Kerr1ck 18 May 2010 at 8:17 PM

      I’m not sure I find that terribly surprising

  10. Scott 18 May 2010 at 6:32 PM

    Had Ashley not mentioned Brixx then it would be just another person complaining about her job. By revealing the company name her comment becomes a reflection on the company. Few companies will tolerate public criticism of their customers, the very people who pay the bill for everything that makes a business operate. While you may disagree with Brixx, unfortunately Ashley left them no room for alternatives by airing her unhappiness in the most public of forums.
    Of course Ashley is now exacting her revenge with this media campaign. Ironically she’s made yet another public blunder that will follow her long after this incident. How many future employers will hire Ashley Johnson after Googling her and finding this situation?
    In the end her firing is a cautionary tale to everyone — like it or not your social media comments affect every other part of your life.

  11. Avatar of Marshall Ling
    Marshall Ling 18 May 2010 at 7:45 PM

    I actually used to be a host at that Brixx and the GM there is a great manager. I would give him the benefit of the doubt and bet that she only got $5 for a reason. Regardless, when you mention the company’s name, you are speaking as an employee and therefore on behalf of that company. The comment was unprofessional and I think Brixx was justified.

  12. Ben Marvin 18 May 2010 at 8:11 PM

    Where’s the option for “Who cares”?

  13. Josh 18 May 2010 at 9:31 PM

    Were they right? No. Were they wrong? No.

    Although freedom of speech is extremely important, a business’ right to terminate is important too. It also needs to be protected because if not you will be served by people they wish to get rid of but its easier not to.

    Also, wasn’t this person fired because of a tattler?

    Let’s get after the tattler who complained, or the customers who jipped on the tip? Sounds they were the original problem!

  14. Avatar of Gregor Smith
    Gregor Smith 18 May 2010 at 11:08 PM

    Speaking from experience, it sucks, plain and simple. Of course most jobs now have the old “employer has the right to terminate for any or no reason” clause in the contract so you’re left on a shaky peg as soon as you mention work in the public domain, Facebook or otherwise. Another downside of this is the publicity Ashley Johnson has brought upon herself, would you want to hire the woman who was fired from Brixx for badmouthing customers of Facebook?

    I’m “quickly” finding (I say quickly, but it’s been 14 months now) that no-one wants to hire the guy for mentioning where he worked on Twitter, but thats a story for another time

  15. Brady Bone 20 May 2010 at 11:31 PM

    Three words: Employment-At-Will.

  16. cobniblet 27 May 2010 at 5:26 PM

    thats pretty unfortunate that venting gets you fired
    i talk bad about my work all the time
    its called getting it off your chest
    im not going back to bricks, apparently they think young work is desposable as long as they keep making their money
    that girl should have got the correct percentage of the tab and she stayed an hour after work
    i would have talked so much bs about those dooshbags, but who cares
    she did the right thing hopefully she is back to work at a much better place than BRICKS :)