Friday, April 22, 2011

When it Rains

As I'm sitting here listening to the rain, mustering up the motivation to finish my final paper due tomorrow, the last day of class, I can't help but think of how true the old adage is: when it rains, it pours.

I didn't get the internship that I wanted. I am extremely frustrated and disappointed by this. I do have an internship interview next week with a local school district, but I'm just not sure about that either.

Work at the mental hospital on Wednesday was a disaster. A major disaster. FOUR patients escaped. FOUR. Three have been returned, but one - the most dangerous of the four - is still loose. It's made the news all over not just the local area, but the kids' home state (we take in patients from all over the country) as well. It's been in the local newspapers, their home state newspapers, and reported on at least 3 news stations that I know of. The Executive Director and another high-level administrator have been fired over it. And now I'm a target as well, apparently. Even though I wasn't even remotely involved in the situation, as on Wednesday I did not work on the unit that the escapes occurred from.

Why? Naturally, I posted some of the articles on Facebook. Now, I was careful, as always. I don't believe I did anything wrong. Due to my busy schedule(work, internship, *and* classes), Facebook is a primary method of keeping in touch with close friends and family. I have my privacy settings as such that only those on my friends list can see anything on my page. Furthermore, I have at least a couple of "lists", so that if I choose, I can block content from even groups of my friends. I do have a few current and former co-workers on my list, but it is mostly friends from undergrad, friends from home, family, or non-work related friends living in my local area. The articles didn't list any identifying information on any of the patients except the one who is still missing. I did add some of my own comments and a couple of complaints regarding the situation, but again, no information was disclosed that isn't already public knowledge now due to being in the newspapers.  In fact, one article I *didn't* post specifically *because* it listed the names and ages of all four escapees, rather than just the one who is still at large. In addition, I know of at least 3 other staff on my friends' list, including one who is a supervisor, who posted the very same articles on *their* pages.

Jump to this morning. I wake up to a text from the Day Shift supervisor, to call her ASAP. When I spoke with her, she told me that I was asked to come speak with the CEO and new admins who replaced the ones who got fired. I didn't think much of it, honestly. One other time a patient got away for a length of time, staff were all called in as a group to discuss the situation (interpreted: find someone to blame for his escape). In that particular instance, it was an all-staff meeting. So I thought this was another one of those - go, hear how this is all our fault, smile and nod, and go home. Imagine my surprise when it was a meeting to basically tell me to stop posting the articles on facebook, or lose my job. This infuriates me on several levels. For one, my content is friends only, so I have a rat on my friends list I need to find and delete. For another, I posted PUBLIC INFORMATION, and therefore did not violate HIPPA, privacy, or confidentiality laws, in spite of their accusations. Thirdly, other co-workers, including a current supervisor, have posted the exact same content with, so far, no similar repercussions that I know of (I know at least one co-worker would tell me, because we're really good friends and I've discussed this situation at length with her). I got a big speech about how it was "very bad judgment" and violation of confidentiality, and "if we get shut down, you'll be unemployed too". In shock over the absurdity of the whole thing, I smiled and nodded, gave my perspective when asked, and went home with the understanding that if it continued to happen, I would be fired.

Then, I called a damn lawyer. Turned out I still had a lawyer's information, which had been given to me by another co-worker, who was suing the facility, said that firm seemed interested in my workers' comp case from 2009. They then referred me to one of their former attorneys who recently started her own practice specializing in wrongful termination cases, and I called her. She basically said that I would have to see if our most recent employee handbook had anything in it concerning social media (I doubt it does, they're not that forward-thinking). She said I might would have some difficulty with the fact that I posted some comments on the articles, but with the posting of the articles themselves, I could have a case, if terminated, providing there's nothing in the current policy regarding such situations. And, basically, that it might would be easier to just take the articles off. Which I refuse to do. Yes, I'm not going to post any more, for sure. But I'm not deleting what's already there. To me it's pointless and reeks of cowardice. The place has so many ethical and mistreatment issues that led up to the escapes, that I feel like as much needs to be reported and kept a record of as possible, because if I do lose my job, even if I can't win a wrongful termination lawsuit, I *will* be a whistleblower.

To give the whole thing a final kick, I come home to a message on my facebook from one of my direct supervisors, which stated "You're a very hot item right now, you may want to lay low." This confirmed to me that I am being specifically targeted over this, in comparison with the several other staff who have posted the same information, the same comments, the same everything. It's sickening. And I can't wait to get the hell out of there.

3 comments:

JeniMac said...

Wow Chad, you definitely need to get out of there. I went through this very same thing at Lifeway, but on Myspace. I was actually worried about you posting things on facebook because you'd never suspect the co-workers who would rat you out. I noticed it's been several days since you posted this...has anything happened since then?

Chadly said...

Well, I found out from the supervisor friend who ratted me out. I'm waiting a bit so as not to draw attention to him, but eventually she will be deleted. She told the day shift supervisor(the one who called me!), who reported me to upper level admin. Neither of them had the balls to confront me directly - the supervisor who reported me, told me she "didn't know" when I asked her what the meeting was about!

As a general update, they *still* haven't caught the kid. The situation is still making headlines. And state/local legislators are already drafting a bill that would either enforce stricter security measures, and/or limit the types of kids admitted at these types of facilities, and where they come from. From what I hear though, everything at work is business as usual (I haven't been back yet, as I took a few days off for Easter and finishing up internship/classes for the semester). A couple of good friends who are former co-workers, have told me, that ALOT of disgruntled ex-employees are very happily airing the place's dirty laundry to the media and licensing agencies now that they have the chance. I keep up with the comments on the news articles, and people are telling EVERYTHING that I've been complaining about since I got there. It's pure craziness.

Cat C-B said...

Wow, Chadly, I'm feeling for you. As a teacher with a strong web presence, I do live with a certain amount of tension around how the Web and social media can cause problems for me, no matter how professional or ethical I may be in my use of it...

It does sound like there's more issues in this institution than one employee's use of social media, however.