Bosses force woman to show Facebook page to prove she's not lying

In a dispute about sick leave, a fired flight attendant is forced by Air New Zealand to reveal her Facebook page and bank records to prove her story.

An Air New Zealand YouTube account. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I fancy that most people would prefer it if their boss didn't know what they're really like.

Work is work. And life is, generally, better than that.

Increasingly, though, employers seem to believe that they own you. Recessions have tended to help this notion, with many workers cowering just to keep a job.

Please imagine, though, the pained feelings of a fired Air New Zealand cabin crew member who was ordered by her former bosses to show them her Facebook page. Oh, and her bank records.

As TV New Zealand's One News reports, Gina Kensington was suspected of lying about two days of sick leave. She claimed she'd taken them to look after her sister.

Air New Zealand fired her. So she went to New Zealand Employment Relations Authority in an attempt to get her job back.

Air New Zealand's response was to demand to see her Facebook page and her bank records. This, the company said, would either prove or disprove her story.

She cited privacy concerns. Why should her employer see what was behind her privacy controls?

In a decision that might make some experience turbulence, the authority sided with the company.

Kensington now has to open her private life in order to prove that she was telling the truth.

Kensington contended that because Air New Zealand fired her, they should only be able to rely on the information they had at that time.

What proof, indeed, did Air New Zealand have to dismiss her from her job?

Please imagine, then, how she might have felt to have Air New Zealand's lawyers crawl through her Facebook page for March 8 and 9 and perhaps make private comments to themselves.

"Ooh. She has how many friends? Is that all?"

"Why is she friends with this pilot? Ah, so the rumors are true, eh?"

And this from an airline that ran a very witty ad campaign a few years ago. It was called "Nothing to Hide."

A hearing was held Monday in order, presumably, to discuss the findings.

If such precedents continue to be set, everything that is digitally accessible may become evidence if an aggressive litigator decides that it might be useful.

Employers all over the world have begun to demand Facebook access to private accounts -- some at the job interview stage .

Six U.S. states have now deemed it illegal for employers to do this.

Yet employers often have the nastier lawyers and the larger bank accounts -- not that they want to make the latter public, you understand.

As privacy erodes like a crumbling tourist attraction from the 12th century, at least there might be one positive development from this seemingly unbalanced situation.

People might start posting less on Facebook.

 

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