Businessman fired over online comments about “poor people” on public transport

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HR has had to adjust quickly to the world of social media, but sometimes employees don’t make it easy. The latest international social media scandal raises questions about how employees' bad behaviour effects employer branding, and what online actions are a fireable offence.

Singapore-based investment firm Crossinvest fired British wealth manager Anton Casey after he angered an entire nation with a handful of Facebook posts.

When his car needed repairs, Casey had to take public transport and expressed his horror with a photo of his five-year-old son with the caption: "Daddy, where is your car & who are all these poor people?"

A later photo shows his son in his Porsche captioned: "Ahhhh reunited with my baby. Normal service can resume, once I have washed the stench of public transport off me."

Within hours Singaporeans from all walks of life were attacking Casey and his family, who reportedly fled to Australia. Casey attempted to make amends in a poorly thought out YouTube video where he told viewers "Don't be angry at me, be angry with your mum and dad for raising you a wuss".

Crossinvest investigated the incident and chose to fire the wealth manager. But was that the right decision?
Casey’s behaviour fulfills the worst stereotypes of those working in the financial industry – disconnected, arrogant and condescending – which could certainly impact Crossinvest’s brand.

However, People Management editor Robert Jeffery argues the incident was blown out of proportion.

“It’s hard to defend Casey (and why bother, as he doesn’t sound the most pleasant of individuals?). But I suspect many will have felt a spasm of sympathy as they read of his misdemeanours – not for his views, which are offensive… but for the way something so innocuously foolish has been blown out of all proportion,” Jeffery wrote.

Similar incidents occur daily on a variety of sites, not to mention in off-colour jokes at the pub after work, but when it becomes public fodder employers often panic and their knee-jerk reaction is to distance themselves from the individual.

“It’s time for organizations to become more philosophical about the occasional social media slip,” Jeffery added. “Casey and other online braggarts are better ignored than reviled.”

What would you have done? Let us know in the comments.
  • lori on 2014-01-31 9:06:52 AM

    i am in total agreement with the way his company handled this, he deserves worse if that were possible. he is a disgusting arrogant human being and hopefully he has to flee Australia and anywher else he goes. i hope he's on the run forever, that is the lifestyle he deserves after that !!

  • May on 2014-02-03 5:46:58 AM

    I think it just shows that he's not invincible and that kind of behaviour doesn't have to be tolerated. Public transit is not just for poor people. I have a car and take transit whenever I can in Toronto because of the inconvenience of parking and the cost.

  • Beth on 2014-02-03 7:01:59 AM

    I wonder if this was the 'last straw' with this fellow. People don't all of a sudden become arrogant and obnoxious, so perhaps this just gave the company the final impetus to say good-bye.

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