Filipino nurses fired for liking facebook postWhen is it legal to terminate employees? A lot of the grounds for termination and dismissal are usually written on company-individualized and company-unique handbooks and manuals. Each company or institution has its own manual which decides punishments for different violations committed by employees. Guidelines are written in the manuals which serve as guides to employees to avoid demerits, and possibly, termination.

Taguig-Pateros City District Hospital has recently fired fifteen nurses, allegedly “because of “liking” a Facebook status that criticizes the hospital for acquisition of a new CT-Scan machine last July 13, 2012.

A consultant at the hospital’s aesthetic and gynecology department, Jocelyn Imbao, posted a status about the acquisition of the said machine. It read as follows:

“CT scan???????????? Huh? Sana for free. Kase baka wala maka afford. Besides, ilan ba gagamit na patient? In demand ba? E ang oxygen, meron ba continuous supply? Bili light meron? Simpleng droplight, me bumbilya ba?” read the post. (CT scan? Hopefully for free. Because no one might be able to afford it. Besides, how many patients will use it? Is it in demand? What about oxygen, is there continuous supply? Simple droplight, are there bulbs?. Naisip nyo ba ang kuryente na ma consume ng CT scan? Did you know that before you operate the CT scan, you have to start it for a long time? And once on, you can’t turn it off and on and off when not in use?”

The nurses liked the post and then they received a Letter of Termination last August 12, 2012. The letter stated that they are officially terminated effective August 16, 2012. Imbao received the termination posted at the bulletin board of the hospital on August 30, 2012. As for the grounds of the termination, one of the terminated nurses stated: “They did not state any grounds. So we talked to the medical director and we’re told that we were terminated because of Facebook”. The nurse said that the conversation was recorded.

The nurses are now accusing the hospital management for not releasing their Certificates of Employment. They have sought the help of other agencies, like the Civil Service Commission, but help has yet been offered.

The hospital and the city government released a three-page explanation for the termination and they accused the nurses of sowing intrigues against the administration of Mayor Larni Cayetano. The letter said: “Sadly, they have done these things even while they were on duty and supposedly working on official government time,”

The nurses issued their statement and said that the hospital: “is only making up stories in order to justify our termination without due process.”. One of the terminated nurses even added: “If the hospital was not really satisfied with my performance why did they put very satisfactory in my evaluation letter? And why didn’t they tell us through the termination letter? Why only now?”

Joel Montales, Taguig City administrator issued an official statement and clarified that “Imbao and the nurses were not terminated because they liked (a) Facebook (post).”

“Instead of focusing on their work and cooperating and supporting the TPDH management’s various efforts at improving the hospital’s frontline services, these terminated personnel have manifested blatant disobedience and disregard of authority and protocols, engaged in sowing intrigues and encouraged discontent among the hospital’s staff and personnel.

What is your take on the termination of the nurses? Based on the stories of both sides, do you think that what they did deserved termination? Is the new CyberCrime Law applicable to this, knowing that some critics of the law stated that people can be punished just by liking, commenting and sharing “libelous” posts? Is criticism justifiable? Will posting your opinion and simply voicing support on issues warrant termination? You decide. As for me, I am a nurse, not a lawyer, so I leave the judging to you, fellow nurses.

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