Employment-based censorship

Via Sarah AB at Harry’s Place and BenSix, we learn of a case of a man being demoted for posting a comment on Facebook opposing gay marriage. There may be more details in the story that have gone unreported relating to something more justifiably akin to misconduct. But if this is regarding a Facebook comment alone, this punishing act by the employer (a housing association) seems contrary to freedom of expression and also right to political participation. Even though gay marriage isn’t even legal (yet) in the United Kingdom, a public authority believes it is reasonable to punish an employee for having an opinion that merely supports the status quo.

It is worth noting the extraordinary narrowing of acceptable views on sexuality that are faced by individuals in a variety of occupations and professions that are considered sensitive, including many public services. Being publicly exposed as having an interest in kinky sex can get you sacked and labelled as potentially unfit to serve in some professions. By contrast, failing fully to respect specifically protected sexualities, such as homosexual orientations, can also have highly damaging effects on your employment and career prospects. This situation does no-one, gay, straight, queer, puritan or libertine, any favours. Workers should be judged on their ability to serve their customers or service-users, not their political and moral views outside the workplace.