By now, you’ve likely heard about the controversy surrounding the ouster of Shirley Sherrod, a former senior-level official at the Department of Agriculture.

If not, here’s a brief synopsis: Early this week, edited video clips surfaced of Sherrod speaking this spring at an NAACP event admitting to racial bias. Once the tape came to light on nearly every news outlet, she was pressured to resign.

However, as the full, unedited video emerged yesterday, it appears that Sherrod’s racist comments were taken out of context, as the speech overall was intended to promote racial reconciliation.

I don’t have a firm position on Sherrod’s resignation, nor whether she should be rehired, as some have suggested now that the complete video has come out.

I do wonder, though, how you and your company might react, if placed in Sherrod’s supervisors’ position. Edited or not, Sherrod’s comments clearly were racially insensitive. If one of your employees made similar statements, is it grounds for firing? Does is make a difference if the comments were made on video, as opposed to a worksite lunchroom or other common area?

What about comments made on social media sites? I definitely think it’s okay to fire someone for blatantly violating company policy and/or the law based on information found via social media, but what if an employee is just exercising free speech, albeit in an insensitive or offensive manner?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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