Facebook Use Lands Dallas Workers In Trouble

DALLAS (AP)  – Constantly checking Facebook at work may get you in trouble.

Two dozen Dallas City Hall workers received reprimands or counseling after a recent probe showed they spent too much time on the social networking site.

“It’s [Facebook at work] definitely on the ‘bad idea’ side,” said Dallas attorney Travis Crabtree. “You hear lots of horror stories out there about employees posting things about how they’re either playing hooky, or just fiddling around while they’re at the office and getting in trouble for it when their boss sees it.”

City officials are working on new employee guidelines for social media use. Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm says employees aren’t allowed to do personal business when they’re being paid by taxpayers.

“Computer equipment belongs to the company and technically your time belongs to the company too, while you’re there,” said Crabtree.

Cesar Baptista, an assistant director in the water department, had Facebook open for 68 hours during a three-month period. But Baptista said he often opened his Facebook page in the morning and didn’t close it while he did other things. He says he no longer opens the site at work.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


One Comment

  1. Malcolm says:

    Anything personal, texting, facebook ,playing games on company time is STEALING just as sure as if you shoplifted at Wal Mart,

    1. re: Malcolm says:

      I think you are slightly overreacting.

      1. muhammedx says:

        pay a guy by the hour to mow your lawn. Say, 10$ an hour. He takes three days to mow you lawn and charges you $240 (3-8 hour days). You review a tape of him working and see he spent 12 of the 24 hours he billed you for “facebooking”. Bet you a dollar to a donut you would demand he give back half your money if not all for stealing. You paid him to do your lawn NOT to facebook. That’s what us ignorant taxpayers are saying. Seems clear, and not a stretch from the fella equating it to shoplifting at all. In fact it’s spot on.

      2. BizzyBobTaylor says:

        OK, then. How about borrowing without paying back.

      3. Tom says:

        You were hired to do a job, and you are paid for that work. If you’re not doing that work but still taking the pay for iit, that’s theft.

        Start traking the time these employees spend NOT doing work while they’re on the clock then deduct it from their paychecks and adjust their benefits package accordingly.

      4. Geosota says:

        You are under-reacting. Not only are the slackers still on the payroll, a counsellor has been added who bottom-line contributes nothing also.

      5. re: muhammedx says:

        Usually a lawn guy is paid a base price to make the lawn look good. If he takes three days to do it, then that’s his bad. Your analogy is flawed.

      6. Rush says:

        His analogy isn’t flawed there, muhammed –

        It is predicated upon an hourly rate.

        The fact that a “lawn guy is usually paid a base price” is, of course, completely besides the point.

        His point could not be clearer.

        So stop being a tool…

    2. zorki1c says:

      The Internet and texting is killing productivity. The main reason for texting is you can do it and your employer can’t tell what’s happening.. Given the number of folks who would be happy to have a job, texting at work should be grounds for automatic dismissal.

    3. Tomas says:

      A previous employer required everyone to get a Facebook account and use it to develop contacts and relationships with current and potential clients.

  2. StanM says:

    Is that what the taxpayers are paying for? Its about time to cut their budget, fire unnecessary employees and cut taxes.

    1. lynn says:

      Exactly. With unemployment where it’s at right now I’m sure we could find plenty of people willing to WORK.

      1. lest says:

        what is wrong with you two? Are you that ignorant about what is actually going on in your own damn city? Those people more than likely /want/ to work. But you’d be surprised with how well the Council Members and the higher Managers such as Miss Mary, could care less about /letting/ those employees work. lol… There is some major fraud occurring in our city, and no one is listening to the employees.

        How are they not letting them work?? Just ask Miss Mary how many of her employees have had panic attacks these past few months while she’s toys with her horrible budget; she is destroying entire departments and will make some completely useless come August 1st (the day hundreds of more layoffs are set to occur). The moral is horrible right now. If people are reaching out to friends and family during the day? Sorry-it’s not the worst thing they could be doing.

        Rant and rave about what’s actually ripping you off-not the employees that are as powerless to stop it as you are.

  3. jmuriel says:

    Geez – the IT Dept cannot BLOCK Facebook. Just spend more money on counseling. No wonder our govt agencies are running out of OUR money.

    1. JMWinPR says:

      Not only block these sites, but personal e-mail, Amazon, ebay, etc.
      Works for the military

      1. headlessjester says:

        They just use iphones, they can still be written up though.

      2. Dave says:

        Are you kidding? I’m in the military and the DoD has ORDERED last year that Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, etc all be unblocked so we can “reach out to the public”. Chairman JCS has a twitter account!!

      3. Michelle "Hamburgler" Obama Speaks... says:

      4. Phil Holst says:

        tell you what. I am an IT guy, and I use Facebook for actual work getting donated equipment to our non profit plus attract new folks to our site. I also can do a little thing known as ‘Multi Tasking’ – the reason why I got hired in the first place. I also work 6-7 days a week, two to three jobs, and I have no cell signal here, so that is how people are bale to reach me/ So, for all you technically backward folks out there that I have to save from yourselves in the IT realm, – stick it where it won’t shine.

      5. Navy_Matt says:


        I’m in the Navy and we have full access to Amazon,YouTube, and Facebook.

    2. they should block it all and then allow the hand full of WORK RELATED websites only.

      1. HarryO says:

        Our State blocks all social networking sites and any other sites deemed inappropriate, certainly makes it easier for everyone, youtube, facebook, myspace, and a host of other sites. All known porno sites, if a person streams ANYTHING too long the IT Department is on them, even if it’s listening to a radio show via the internet, they are using our infrastructure/bandwidth, and they are warned

    3. Kip Noxzema says:

      You must not work for a large company, do you? The IT dept. can block any site they want to.

  4. ONTIME says:

    Why is a public employee who is at work allowed to be connected to the internet at the expense of the tax payers?

    1. headlessjester says:

      Believe it or not, the internet can actually be used for legit government business too. Most “work” these days involves, connecting to a network at some point or another.

    2. duh says:

      Um, because some of the job tasks may require internet access?

    3. parks & rec says:

      lmao is this a real question?

    4. WoodNYC says:

      Are you really that dumb about technology or just a troll? The internet is not just facebook and gmail. There are millions of business related sites out there. What do you think the “cloud” in cloud computing is?

  5. rbcintexas says:

    This should not be a problem – they have the ability to block any website for anytime or amount of time they desire. That is what private companies do. If the employee does not stay off sites like Facebook, don’t pay for counseling, just fire them. Word will quickly get out and people will stop the abuse just so that they won’t get fired. Rght now, nothing happens so they continue to do it.

    1. headlessjester says:

      Firing someone that works for the government takes a lot of counseling over time before they can be let go. That’s why there’s so many government slackers that you have to beat with a stick to get them to move. They know there’s no real recourse.

  6. Josh Nath says:

    Um, the IT department could just block facebook, problem solved.

    1. Quark says:

      Um, no, problem not solved.

      It is not so easy as just blocking a site. The city is not a private corporation; they do not have full control over their systems.

      A city computer is city property – it belongs to the taxpayer. Most of the city’s employees are city taxpayers and the computers are partly theirs.

      I believe a court case in Virginia several years ago ruled that a city cannot block access to legal sites on publically-owned computers. They can block to certain sexually- or alcohol-related sites and some others, but something like Facebook doesn’t fall under those guidelines.

      So, the city computers are publically-owned and the workers are part of that public. They have the right to use the computers just as they would one any of the computers at, say, the library.

      The way to address this is to discipline the worker who is abusing this privilege, not by knee-jerking a punishment that affects all and sundry.

  7. Harvey says:

    If there’s that many employees with so little to do that they can play on the internet then it’s time to start cutting the workforce.

    1. lest says:

      Ever consider that these workers are doing this because they already know they will more than likely be out of a job come August 1st?? Because hundreds of employees with the city are in a tortuous limbo position right now, where they know 4 people out of their 6 person branch of a department will be let go on the 1st. No one is sure who will be gone, all they know is their chances of continuing are low. “start cutting the workforce”…HA what snide and easy joke for you to make Harvey since you obviously don’t have any idea what it’s like working for the city right now. It’s disgusting. You think that employees are even given the opportunity to report waste and fraud occurring safely and anonymously? hahah hardly.

      Morale is horrible right now amongst the city employees and you have no one to blame but your elected council members, our MIA mayor, and Miss Mary- who can’t balance an ethical budget to save her life.

      So many managers are coasting right now, forgetting that they are civil servants, and in the process they are preventing the employees from working. So while they deal with the stresses of this City of Dallas nightmare, some are finding any escape possible. You say cut them? Fine. But you’re going to have an even further broken city.

  8. JD says:

    Why is facebook not one of many ‘blocked’ sites on city equipment?

  9. Grape Danish says:

    With so many people out of work (the REAL unemployment number is 16.7%), those fortunate ones who still have a job need to make damn sure they are indispensable.

    These government workers who have so little respect for the taxpayers who are employing them need to be shown the unemployment line. If the City of Dallas can still function with so many of them working so little, they are obviously expendable.

  10. TexasGuy says:

    This is such a no-brainer that you almost have to put some of the blame on Mary Suhm for not already having blocked Facebook as well as several other sites.

    1. Jose Castro says:

      shes probably using it too!

  11. Garce says:

    Most younger people don’t think it is stealing – they feel entitled to use their worktime as they wish, not as they are paid to do. But if someone uses their resources in the same manner they are outraged. This is why they must be monitored at all times – they will rob you blind if you don’t watch them every minute.

  12. rexcars says:

    If all public employees worked to there fullest we could get rid of half of them and solve the financial problems of the country

  13. adolf eiccman says:

    They are wrong but in their defense Dallas sucks.

  14. Javitzso says:

    To those who claim that IT can easily block FB you neglect to realize a few things.
    #1: They are probably doing it on their personal phones.
    #2: Facebook is probably used for legitimate work by some people for social media marketing. It gets more expensive and convoluted when you start allowing only certain people access to certain pages.

    Either you will tire of it eventually or your work will suffer enough to get you fired. Since there won’t be any unemployment checks this next month … that’s a really bad path to choose.

    Regarding the guy mowing my lawn for 3 days @ $10 an hour? I would be watching and I would fire that guy within the first hour.

    1. Dave says:

      You didn’t read the article. They obviously monitored work systems. Actually read the article before you comment.

  15. ed357 says:

    Block the site with your firewall and make it company policy to FIRE anyone caught on a company computer or personal smartphone on Social media sites during working hours……

    My daughter can’t even accept personal phone calls during working hours unless it’s an emergency.


  16. duh says:

    And here we go with all of the “government workers are slacking comments.” I come home from work and look at Facebook. I see that many of my supposedly infallible private sector friends have been posting stuff all day. I am a teacher, and Facebook, webmail, internet radio, etc. are blocked.

    1. Diane Emmerich says:

      Your private sector friends are not being paid by Mr and Mrs taxpayer. It has everything to do with accountability.

      1. duh says:

        But they are equally slacking when they do the same thing on their jobs.

  17. ron says:

    Anyone who spends ANY time on Facebook or any other site that is not required for their job should be looking for a job.

  18. Jose Castro says:

    Just disable Social Networking, Come on its City Hall!
    Thats like Police Officers fighting crime updating their Status all the time! LOL

  19. CSR says:

    Why don’t they block sites they don’t want you to use. My former employer did.

  20. smashicus says:

    Why do these juicebags even need internet access at work?

    1. duh says:

      Have you ever heard of the “cloud?” EVERYTHING is stored there now.

  21. Kip Noxzema says:

    First, why isn’t Facebook blocked?
    Second, why are these full-time workers, if they don’t do any work?
    Third, what other sites are they visiting?
    Fourth, do you see how tax dollars are being wasted on public sector employees and unions?

  22. role reversal says:

    So I text a work colleague to solve a problem on MY phone, and I access work e-mail on MY phone on/after hours, and I use MY phone for work related uses. When is my job going to start contributing to MY phone bill for the services used on MY phone??? It’s new world, and some of you need to get out of your Ozzie and Harriet mode of thinking. I’m not saying what these people did were justified, I’m just saying it all comes down to moderation. And as always, there is a handful of people will abuse the privilege.

    1. David ratz says:

      They should be paying for your use. Insomuch that in the case of a legal invesigation the law can follow any computer you access investigatiing.

  23. New Reality says:

    As long as I am doing my job “at or above” expectations then what I do on my phone is my business. As far a personal stuff on a work computer…that’s just stupid, and your just asking for trouble.

  24. Bill says:

    But these are public workers…smarter and harder working than all of us combined! At least that’s what I’ve heard all my life. The chorus has been loudest only recently.

  25. larry says:

    Is the city going to release the name of the workers who are guilty of doing this on company time? If not, why not?

    1. lest says:

      Because you’ll find that probably most of them were given notice that a significant percentage (60-100%) of their division will be gone after August 1st, regardless of performance or seniority, as part of Mary Suhm’s new budgeting plan. They were given this notice in early spring and have been in a torturous limbo of uncertainty all summer long. Add in the fact that many upper managers actively sabotage and undermine employees trying to help citizens, our city employees are living through hell right now. So they are turning to friends and family throughout the day for comfort and support, something to take their mind off the mess Mary Suhm has put on them.

      A better demand you should have, is just how many employees have had panic attacks at the office the past three months?

  26. Rod Anders says:

    Why are these people spending any time on the internet if it’s not work-related?

    1. Real Deal says:

      rod …………. you dont expect the govt employees to be held accountable for their job fraud against the taxpayers

      the only time we get the govt pukes’ names is when they want their unearned pensions

    2. Quark says:

      Of course, your every second at work is “work-related,” isn’t it.

      To answer your question, perhaps it’s because they are not robot drones, but human beings who feel a need to escape from the cubicle every so often.

  27. Breaktime??? says:

    What if they checked Facebook, personal email, text, etc, on their break time??? If your not going to allow that, then people shouldn’t be allowed to take “smoke” breaks. Pass a policy preventing smoke breaks then and all he// will break loose. Its all relative to your wants and needs.

    1. stew says:

      They should have an outdoor facebook area that you pay for and can only use on your breaks then. Smokers have to go outside for their break regardless of weather, so should you. And since they pay out of their pocket for their habit, you should also pay for your personal computer to bring with you to work and the bandwidth you use on your breaks. Problem solved.

  28. parks & rec says:

    I work for the 3rd biggest Recreation and Parks dpt. in my state (attempt to remain anonymous). I work in the customer service department, and while there are days where I will be completely busy helping people rent out parks, plan weddings on our grounds, etc, there are also days where there is literally no work to do. This shouldn’t be a surprise…it’s a government position. When there is absolutely no work left to do, I either read a book or get on facebook. Someone please explain to me what is wrong with this?

    1. American says:

      park/rec – typical govt employee ………… slacking and seeing nothing wrong with it ………….. and then you will expect a big slacker pension from the taxpayer

      I bet if you told one of your bosses ……….. a taxpayer,,,…… we could keep you busy and earning your wages/pension at ALL times

      1. lest says:

        You do realize, American, parks and rec is a tax payer too? So why can he/she not just dictate his/her own downtime in the office? His or her use of facebook when there no assignments needing to be done does /not/ harm anyone. And if it does, please oh please, tell me how?

  29. Jack Kennedy says:

    and the govt employees dont understand why we are tired of paying them rich wages and richer pensions while they goof off or do their job at halfass quality

    but, we are just the taxpayers, who have no pensions cuz of obama, and we are expected to pay for the goofball govt employees while they play facebook and then retire with rich pensions

    1. Quark says:

      Rich wages? As a city worker, I brought in about $56K as a database manager. In the private world, the equivalent work would bring in a good $80-100K.

      Rich pensions, eh?

      Mine will be about $40K. And, because we make SO much, I will not be able to collect social security. So, all the money I’ve paid in to SS over thirty years will be for naught. I won’t see a dime of it.

      So, “Jack Kennedy,” this conservative Republican former government employee invites you to try out the “rich wages” of government work and see how you fare with the “rich pension.”

      In my opinion, YOU are part and parcel of the problems this nation faces.

  30. Avenger says:

    1 – Internet filtering so employee does NOT have it on official computer UNLESS required for the job+
    2 – anyone who has all that time to be on face book maybe should NOT have that job and be fired. After a few jobs are declared not needed that will stop the problem.

    1. sandy says:

      Wrong- everyone has a cousin who is a lawyer and the courts are politically correct! The businesses can’t afford to pay shark lawyers who drag it out on both sides till the employer is ruined. So our workplace has been taken over by the new slip and fall industry- THE POLITICALLY CORRECT-so bottom line play at work and don’t worry. Sad.

  31. Bob says:

    I don’t do facebook much at work, just give it a quick check daily…BUT…lets turn the question. What about smokers? They have to now leave the building, walk 50 feet to the smoking area and burn a few while chatting it up with others, how much time do they waste? I don’t smoke.

    1. stew says:

      Lets allow smoking back in the buildings and we would restore productivity. Completey block face book and cell phones too and see how much work gets done. While were at it lets limit bathroom breaks.

  32. sandy says:

    Teachers and govt employees- always on facebook and you cant fire them because of the tough unions- hey the works not getting done lets hire more of them -the new human resources work ethic- the boss is always the bad guy-the lazier the employee the more noble!! YIKES!! What to do about this?

    1. duh says:

      Teachers on Facebook? Have you used a school’s computer before? Yeah, all that personal stuff (social networks, webmail, videos, radio) is BLOCKED.

  33. David ratz says:

    All you have to do is block the social media, or other content you don’t want your employees to access on govenrment equipment and time.

  34. John Angell says:

    If these people were in the private sector they’d have been fired, but as city workers they attend taxpayer paid counseling. I love my city but I loathe my city government.

    1. duh says:

      Like all my private sector friends who post on Facebook all day?

  35. Mr Cleaver says:

    Facebook is the cocaine of the Trophy Generation. And it costs employers billions of dollars a year in lost productivity.

  36. Quark says:

    As a former Dallas employee, I do admit that there can be a lot of slacking going on; I saw a lot of it.

    But, I also saw a lot of hard workers.

    The visceral, knee-jerk reaction to attack public workers sickens me. In the private world, I saw just as much slacking as in the public. Those attacking the public workers are simply looking for a scapegoat to allow them to ease their existing unidentified anger.

    To Sandy who thinks teachers are on Facebook all the time. Are you high? I spent the last year as a teacher and there is not enough time to SIT, let alone use Facebook. Further, are you under the fantasy that a teacher’s job stays at school? Think again. I got up at 5 am to get to work by 7, taught class until 2:30 pm and then an hour of tutoring. I got home around 4-4:30, depending upon traffic, grabbed a quick bite and then went to work grading and working on the next day’s lesson. Maybe around 8 or 9 I’d be able to have some downtime for half an hour or so, before hitting the sack to get enough sleep for the next day.

    Before you condemn teachers, Sandy, try it out.

  37. crc says:

    How about posting comments to a story you read when you are supposed to be working?

  38. Illogicbuster says:

    Dallas City gov MUST be run by libs. Proof is they can’t solve a simple problem. IT just blocks FB for employees that don’t use as part of job. Supervisors fire people if using cell phones when not on break.

    Situation handled.

  39. robert.walter says:

    No different from sleeping on the job, or using the phone for hours of personal calls.


  40. Quark says:

    I do not understand all the talk about unions. Texas is a Right To Work state and the civilian employees at Dallas have an ineffective union – for the relatively few who are members.

    From about 2000 to 2005, most of the civilian workers in Dallas recieved no raises.

    None. There was no money to give us a raise and the good citizens of Dallas were ranting over a few cents added to their taxes to pay for city services. So, no tax increase, no raises.

    I started at Dallas at $48K/year. When the police RIF’d me 12 years later, in 2009, I was making $56K.

    That’s an effective 1.3% raise each year.

    How many of you think a 1.3% raise is “rich?”

    My prior private world job paid 5% just for showing up. Had the Soviets not collapsed, my $48K at that rate would have been $86K

    So much for a union.

  41. Marko959 says:

    As a Dallas resident and an IT professional, I’m shocked they haven’t blocked Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. I think they need my expertise in I.T. Security 🙂

    1. masq says:

      Exactly! Block all social networking sites. Problem solved. Unless of course they continue their addiction on their cell phone.

  42. masq says:

    15 minutes tops. To check in and it’s on my cell phone. Facebook is blocked at my place of employment as it should be in the offices of all government workers.

  43. Patrickt says:

    My job requires me to use faceebook. So it should be ok.

  44. Wayne says:

    How about the IT techs who work at Dallas city hall install a firewall? It would be easy to block all social media sites from work computer access. Simple solution.

  45. Allen says:

    Useless public employees wasting taxpayers money, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our rights:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama, vote for Ron Paul.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

  46. Bob says:

    Folks, in the real world, any legitimate employer realizes that they employ human beings, not robots, and that human beings will fart around some at work. I work for a very large employer, and our assumption is that we will get about 6 hours of actual work out of every 8 hour shift (including accounting for paid breaks). I’m not judging the people involved in this story innocent because we don’t know all the facts, I’m just saying that if you spend 2-3 minutes an hour lets say responding to Facebook or personal email in order to blow off a little steam, you are not the devil incarnate. If you spend 2-3 hours out of every 8 paid hours on personal stuff when there is work to be done, you should be quickly identified and fired.

  47. jdmjca5 says:

    To easy to fix. Get the IT specialist to block those sites. Problem solved.

  48. el Jefe says:

    Wow, talk about people over-reacting. We live in a multi-tasking world. There ARE jobs that allow you to do other activities as long as you accomplish the work you are expected to do. The really sad part is that everyone that is whining about this article is crying over PEANUTS when compared to the waste and overspending that is carried out by elected politicians. Something that you DO have control over.

  49. Bruce says:

    what ever happened to FIRING people for stealing?

  50. Jason says:

    haha and then CBS throws a huge facebook connect button at the bottom. What is the deal with facebook anyway? People really need to post every damn thought they have just so they can get some validation in life through a reply by someone they probably don’t care about?

  51. Framitz says:

    Fire every one of the abusers, especially public employees!
    fire them now, you have cause if needed.

  52. LeftyPhD says:

    I’m a professor. Our department has a facebook page, where we try to connect with our students and list their accomplishments, along with notable faculty achievements. It’s not stealing. It’s smart.

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