In the US a teacher has been suspended from her job because she writes an anonymous blog that reveals her inner thoughts about the stresses of her job. She does not name students or reveal the identity of her workplace, but her freedom of speech is under threat. In a country that takes freedom of speech very seriously, this seems like a significant occurrence.

There are many more examples. In another recent US example, a woman who was fired for posting negative comments about her employer on Facebook has won a settlement from her employer.

In Australia, the Orwellian Commonwealth Bank expected employees to monitor examples of negative commentary about their employer when using social media in their own time as individuals, report on it to the company, and assist in its removal. Fuck off!

Also in Australia a few years ago, a teacher was dismissed from her job because as an individual she appeared nude in a magazine and talked about her sex life with her husband. The state is yet to compensate her for its appalling and illegal discrimination.

Employers seem to think they own us, but they don’t. As I have previously argued, who I am and what I do for work are not the same thing. The labour I sell is not an expression of my identity.

We are individuals first, and employees second. What we do in our own time in our own lives is no one else’s business, and this extends to with whom we have relationships. I was appalled at the situation whereby Therese Rein, the partner of former prime minister Kevin Rudd, was effectively forced to sell her businesses because her achievements were considered to create a conflict of interest for her partner. Fuck off! It’s none of the state’s business what an employee’s partner does.

The latest inane babble from the media about the current prime minister, Julia Gillard, and her partner Tim Mathieson is equally annoying. Apparently the undefined nature of their relationship is causing protocol issues. As in Kath n Kim iSSues. That’s bureaucratic doublespeak for ‘we don’t know how to stereotype them’.

OMG breach of heteronormativity alert! Consenting adults fucking in the privacy of their own home! How dare they? Containment is required. Cover everything in beige PR spin immediately. The issue is not Tim or Therese. It’s the antiquated values and behaviours related to the intersection of personal and professional lives.

Why do politicians’ partners have to have a public role? Why can’t they have their own lives and businesses? No one elected them. By all means compensate politicians for the horrendous hours they work by enabling them to sometimes bring their partners when they travel for work, but the partners shouldn’t have to do anything.

If they find themselves stuck in Tokyo on a Thursday afternoon with nothing to do they can go to the museum or read a book in a cafe like everyone else. Partners are not designer accessories to put on display, and individuals are not under the jurisdiction of their partner’s employer.

You heteronormative judgemental morons can all just fuck off…

individuality and employment

4 thoughts on “individuality and employment

  • 31 March 2011 at 11:43 am

    It really makes my blood boil that so many employers now think that screening someone online, especially via social media, is valid part of the process of employing a new staff member.
    What I do in my own time, whether that is volunteering at a nursing home, pole dancing, role playing or showing exotic cats has absolutely no bearing on whether or not I am a capable employee.
    As a result, I do not use my full name or resort to a pseudonym anywhere I am active online because I do not want to give any potential employers any sort of chance to discredit me from a job because I made a disparaging comment about someone or something.

    • 31 March 2011 at 1:32 pm

      People can choose to make their social media activity (particularly Facebook) more private, yet they don’t. We have choices about what we publish to the world, but employers do not have the legal right to discriminate.

  • 31 March 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I agree with GB. A polemic:
    1) Social media stands as an emancipated form of an individual’s expression of opinion. As for any other form, each individual consciously decides on the potential size and social composition of their audience.
    2) To disagree with and subsequently distrust an individual’s expression of opinion upon becoming aware of it is in turn an individual’s right.
    3) Corporate decisions are based on individuals’ opinions as corporate actions are based on individuals interaction.

    Prohibiting a corporation from disagreeing and distrusting, i.e. discriminating an individual violates this very right of the respective individual currently fulfilling the bespoke corporate duty. To re-gain psycho-social equilibrium the ‘corporate individual’ shifts their focus of discrimination towards aspect’s of the opposite individual not yet part of the list of discrimination. Today, the list of non-discriminatory items nearly comprises all of an individual’s characteristics.

    Given these ever increasing complications, the outdated concept of personal integrity appears strangely appealing…

    • 31 March 2011 at 9:27 pm

      What utter twaddle. Corporations are risk averse and make decisions according to a combination of rules, values, committees and individual wills. The results are nothing like the opinions of individuals. Integrity is an arbitrary and subjective value.


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