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The "Should We Fire Him for That Post?" case study deals with social media etiquette in relation to work ethics. Kenton was considered one of the best salespeople in Downcity Motors. He disagreed with the company's strategy in launching a project. The problem was he published his disagreement on a Facebook post, which apparently maligned the company's image and against the company's policy. What recourse does the company have against Kenton and his post?
Mary Anne Watson and Gabrielle R. Lopiano
Harvard Business Review (R1603X-PDF-ENG)
March 01, 2016
Case questions answered:
- Should Downcity Motors fire Kenton or not?
- What would you do in this situation?
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Should We Fire Him for That Post? Case Answers
Should We Fire Him for That Post? – Case Study
This “Should We Fire Him for That Post?” case study deals with labor laws and social media etiquette in relation to work ethics.
Downcity Motors owns Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Range Rover dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kenton, one of Downcity’s employees and the best salesperson in the company, has recently posted a controversial picture and comment on Facebook. Kenton disagreed with the Sales Manager’s decision to serve BBQ and plastic ware during a Mercedes launch because it does not represent the luxury product the car dealership is selling.
Dell, the President of the company, and Susannah, the General Manager, believe that the post had a negative impact on the company’s image and reputation. Susannah has to decide whether to let Kenton go or retain him.
According to Toby Diller, Downcity Motors’ head of HR, Susannah has 3 options:
First, Susannah can ignore Kenton’s post because the photos he posted of the event were his own, and he was only expressing his opinion.
Second, Susannah may take disciplinary actions against him, which could involve a written warning added to his personnel file or suspend Kenton from work with or without pay.
Third, Susannah may consider firing Kenton.
Additionally, the HR manager thinks that to fire him for that post would be completely legal because Kenton violated the employee handbook by being disrespectful of the company image, and this was his second offense.
I believe lack of communication is one of the most important issues Downcity is facing. As a General Manager, Susannah should know and understand all her employees and always keep an open line of communication with them.
Kenton is Downcity’s best salesperson but is also a professionally inexperienced individual. He joined Downcity Motors directly out of college, therefore his professional experience was built only with Downcity.
Having no previous work history, Kenton might have not been aware of any protocols or policies associated with posts on social media. His Facebook posts were a clear reaction to co-workers’ or clients’ actions and a way of expressing his frustration and consternation.
Susannah has not identified Kenton’s level of emotional intelligence and she did not think that rejecting his proposal would create so much frustration. Although it was clearly explained to Kenton that he should not post anything that reflects negatively on the organization or its customers, Kenton seemed to express a high negative affectivity  every time he thought the company’s well-being was at risk. His previous posts showed his obvious frustration towards events that, in his opinion, could have damaged the organization and its sales.
Kenton is a very enthusiastic young individual. He loves his job and he is very successful at generating sales. He showed great workplace courage when he expressed his opinion about the launching event to Tyson, the sales manager.
He also showed courage when he went to Susannah to lay out his vision on how the event should be organized and how Tyson’s plan did not align with the brand that Downcity Motors is representing.
According to James Deter, in his article entitled “Cultivating Everyday Courage, “employees whose workplace courage produces good results have often spent months or years establishing that they excel at their jobs, that they are invested in the organization, and that they’re evenhanded.” 
Kenton has proven his commitment towards the company by becoming their most successful salesperson and by showing his concerns whenever he thought the organization is at risk. Deter also argues that “competently courageous people focus primarily on three things: (1) framing their issue in terms that the audience will relate to; (2) making effective use of data; and, (3) managing the emotions in the room”.
Kenton showed workspace courage. However, he could not control his emotions or use the information he had at hand to pitch his idea to Susannah and to provide clear data to support it. This event had been of a high interest to him and he asked Tyson for details about it for weeks. As Kenton’s direct superior in Downcity Motors, Tyson must have…
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