Kimberly Hester, Michigan Teacher's Aide, Files Lawsuit For Losing Job After Denying School District Access To Facebook

Teacher's Aide Booted For Refusing District Access To Personal Facebook

A Michigan teacher's aide is fighting a legal battle with the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District for removing her from her position after refusing to give the district access to her Facebook page.

Kimberly Hester was a teacher's aide at Frank Squires Elementary School in Cassopolis, Mich. last April when she jokingly posted a photo of a coworker to her personal Facebook page. The picture shows a pair of shoes and pants around the ankles, WSBT-TV reports.

"It was very mild, no pornography," Hester told the station.

A parent who was Facebook friends with Hester, and thus could see her posts, notified the school about the image. A few days later, Lewis Cass ISD Superintendent Robert Colby asked her repeatedly for access to her Facebook. Each time, Hester refused.

In response, the district's special education director wrote to her that "…in the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly," according to WSBT-TV.

Hester went on paid administrative leave, to collect workers' compensation, before she was suspended. She is now on unpaid leave and is scheduled for arbitration in May.

“I stand by it,” Hester said in a statement. “I did nothing wrong. And I would not, still to this day, let them in my Facebook. And I don’t think it’s OK for an employer to ask you.”

Hester's battle resonates with Michigan Republican state Reps. Matt Lori and Aric Nesbitt, who reportedly contacted the teacher's aide Thursday to include her story in House Bill 5523. The legislation would make it illegal for employers to request employees' login information for social networking sites.

But in Washington last week, the House of Representatives struck down an amendment, titled "Mind Your Own Business On Paswords," that would prevent companies from requiring current or potential employees to surrender their passwords to social networking sites.

In response to widespread controversy over employers' requests for social networking information, Facebook issued a statement March 23 that reinforces its commitment to protecting user privacy, threatening lawsuits against companies who make such requests.

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