When social media gets you fired: Francesca’s CFO is out

Gene Morphis keeps busy online. He has, it seems, more than 100 friends on Facebook, about 400 connections on LinkedIn and nearly 600 profile views on his personal Blogger site. But one of those sites may have gotten him fired.

Morphis was removed from his position as chief financial officer at Francesca’s, a growing apparel and accessories retailer that went public last year. The company said Monday that it terminated his employment after finding “that he improperly communicated Company information through social media.”

Francesca’s, which said it discovered the activity May 11, isn’t saying what information was allegedly shared, or through what form of social media. But the company is already on the hunt for Morphis’ replacement.

On Facebook, Morphis refers to himself as “a long-time financial guy” who has held chief financial officer positions at “eight (!) companies.” According to his LinkedIn profile, those include stints at David’s Bridal and CVS.

His personal blog, Morph’s View, contains musings on adventure travel and politics. His Blogger profile describes him as “a middle-aged, politically conservative guy” married to “the same wonderful woman” for nearly four decades. His favorite movies are “The Maltese Falcon” and “Casablanca.”


Morphis isn’t the first executive to be pushed out because of social media. In Britain, John Flexman alleged earlier this year that he resigned after his company, gas and exploration firm BG Group, threatened to fire him after he uploaded his resume and clicked “career opportunities” on his LinkedIn profile. Company officials accused Flexman of including confidential information on his resume.

More than four in 10 companies worldwide now say that misuse of social networks is an issue, according to a compilation of data from human resources software maker TribeHR. In 2011, 42% of companies said they had to take disciplinary action, compared with 24% in 2009. Social-media-centered firings are also up, as are the number of company policies regulating use of Facebook, Twitter and the like outside of work.

Many employers use social media policies that may be unlawfully broad, sometimes prohibiting legal discussions of wages or working conditions, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

On Monday, Francesca’s also said it expected its same-store sales for the fiscal first quarter, which are to be announced June 7, to come in better than expected. The Houston-based chain has hundreds of locations across the country, including dozens in California.


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