Thursday, April 28, 2011

Can your job fire you for what you do off the clock?

You would think the answer that question would be a resounding no, as long as what you are doing is not illegal. If you are smoking pot, selling drugs or filming child porn...well you have more issues than just getting fired buddy.

But I wouldn't be writing this blog if the answer was as simple as 'no' would I? No I would not, because if the answer to your question is shouldn't even bother writing the article in the first place.

(The picture: I think that rule should apply to all of journalism, as well as science journalism, but that's just my opinion.)

My question is asked because of this article "Parents: English Teacher Writes Racy Novels"

I'll let you read the story for yourself, but as a quick summary.

An English teacher (Mrs. Judy Buranich) at a school in central Pennsylvania is a published author. She writes erotic romance novels, in her free time. She publishes under a pen name and doesn't bring the books up in class or discuss them with her students. A parent (Wendy Apple) has a son in Mrs. Buranich's 10th grade English class and when she discovered the teacher's second job she brought attention to it through the media. Claiming she was concerned for the student's in Mrs. Buranich's classes. 

Here are some comments from Apple, another parent and two former students. (One of whom is also clearly related to Wendy Apple, in interest of full disclosure). 

"Now my son knows so how is he thinking when he's sitting in her class knowing what she does on the side," Apple said. She added she found all of the information on the internet. Apple said Buranich writes under the pen name Judy Mays.

Parent Deanna Stepp said the evidence is clear. "She is teaching children that are under the age of 18 and definitely the books that she is writing are adult books. I think she needs to make a decision as to what she wants to do. Either be a school teacher or author," Stepp said.

"I was shocked. If you are a teacher you shouldn't be doing that," said former student Shanette Apple.

"I was sort of shocked.Sitting in her class I had no idea. She is a good teacher but I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes," said former student Drew Hollenbach.

Personally, I can't understand why any of these people feel they have the right to tell Mrs. Buranich what she can or cannot do when she is "off the clock" so to speak. It is not the student's or parent's business to tell a teacher what they can and cannot write, as long as the books and subject matter (if it is adult) are not brought up in class. This reminds me of another blog I wrote this year, I believe it was in February. Oh yes, a teacher by the name of Natalie Munroe was suspended from her job because of things she wrote on her personal blog.

It seems the world has gone mad and I think I possibly slept through the announcement that my personal life is now something my employer has the right to police. I've said some pretty nasty things about my job and my customers on this blog. If my manager found this blog do you think I would need to start looking for a new place to work? I'm also gay, does that mean if my manager is homophobic, she could fire me for being gay? Well...I do live and work in a state where you can be fired at any time, without any reason being given, so...yes, technically I guess she could fire me. For either the blog or being gay, if she wanted to.

As for Mrs. Buranich...I'm not too worried. The article and "news" piece that WNEP (the news outlet for their area) did was a horrible little smear campaign that people have not been appreciative of. (Really, go read the comments. Almost every single one of them says to leave Mrs. Buranich alone. )
A facebook support page was made yesterday for her and at the time I am writing this (10:10, Arizona time) she has over 5,000 supporters on that page. 

What can I say. People who read are fans of free speech and we tend to stick together.  

Edit: Also at the time of writing, WNEP has put a follow up story on their website. 


Valerie Mann said...

Great blog, I totally agree with your assessment. I'm glad to see this teacher seeing so much support from authors of all genre, not just romance!

pogosplace said...

Meredith, this is great!

I have linked to you on my personal Facebook page (Helen Bosler Crow) and shortly will with my business.


Beverly Diehl said...

Nice job. Although, in fairness, the school board has not said anything (at least, not yet) about firing her, regardless of the stink being raised by this parent.

Can't help but wonder, though, what was going on behind the scenes. Seems like this was a pretty open secret, so why did this woman and her clique suddenly get a hair up their butts about it?

Writing in Flow

Sakasama_No_Chou said...

I'm hoping she won't be fired. That would be ridiculous and unfair, but I think it's a fair point to be raising. Apparently these parents think she can be fired for this, even if the school board won't do it.

People need to live in reality, it's a little place where people are individuals and get to have private lives outside of their jobs. I'd say Wendy Apple is not living in reality at this moment in time.

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