Nurse reprimanded over Facebook photo

Managers at Genesys Regional Medical Center reprimanded a nurse for unprofessional behavior, based on a photo that ended up on Facebook, the Flint Journal reports.

The photo, which was taken in the early spring showed another nurse removing a splinter from Cathy Miller in an otherwise empty operating room at the hospital based in Grand Blanc Township, Mich.

Unbeknown to Miller, her coworker posted that photo and others on Facebook. Genesys managers told employees to remove the photos and called Miller in for a talk.

"They told me there was a serious investigation going on and that this was something I could lose my job over," Miller told the Flint Journal.

Such an investigation is not uncommon. Twenty percent of companies with at least 1,000 employees have investigated a leak of information to a social network site, according to a survey by the Internet security firm Proofpoint Inc. And 7 percent have fired an employee for violating social network policy.

Miller received a write-up that accused her of violations related to health and safety, improper use of equipment because her colleague used hospital headlights and "undesirable" conduct. A colleague lost nearly a month of pay. Miller filed a grievance through her union and won, which meant the reprimand was removed from her file.

"Genesys respects the rights of our employees on their own time to participate in online social media. However, Genesys has a firm policy stating that employees engaged in online media must not post proprietary hospital information," a hospital statement read, according to the Flint Journal.

The Teamsters 332 union, which represents Genesys nurses, has filed a labor relations charge related to the incident with the National Labor Relations Board. There was no policy against taking a picture in the operating room, Miller said. The nurses were on break, there were no patients in sight and nothing about the photo identified the site as Genesys.

"I just felt like it was a huge overreaction, and a lot of time and money was wasted. I felt like I was being interrogated in a Third World country," she said. "There were no patients involved. Why was I treated like I had committed a crime?"

To learn more:
- read the Flint Journal's article
- here's a summary of the Proofpoint survey (listen to the audio)