Christmas Characters Don’t Know Naughty Words

18 Nov

Everyone knows behaving professionally at work is important. What we often forget, however, is that how we act outside of work can impact our work lives as well. The Sugar Plum Fairy from St. Charles’s Christmas Traditions festival recently learned this the hard way.

Since her role made her technically a government employee, Laura Coppinger had to provide a urine sample for a drug test. Out of habit, she innocently flushed the toilet when she was through. Unfortunately, toilet-flushing is against the rules for a drug test, and she was told she would have to wait and provide a new sample. This news prompted a curse of frustration from Coppinger as she returned to the waiting room of the private testing facility, for the extra time would cause her to miss an interview.

Moments later, she was told she should leave. When she inquired why, she was informed that her swearing, though not while in character, had nevertheless violated the Christmas Traditions code of conduct section entitled “Christmas Characters Don’t Know Naughty Words.” Although she tried to apologize, the city refused to reconsider its position, and after six years of playing the Sugar Plum Fairy, Coppinger will have to celebrate the holidays some other way.

While St. Charles’s perfunctory dismissal of Coppinger may seem a bit of an overreaction, the story serves as a word of caution for us all. Companies must be cognizant of the image they put before the world, and the words and actions of their employees definitely factor in. With employers becoming more and more aware of Facebook, YouTube, and other social media, pictures of last weekend’s shenanigans could easily come back to haunt one in the workplace. A careless tweet meant for friends could be seen by your boss as a public relations liability.

Moral of the story: Always be aware of how your words and actions reflect back on you and anyone you represent. Too bad the Sugar Plum Fairy learned this lesson the hard way.


by Danielle Bradshaw


3 Responses to “Christmas Characters Don’t Know Naughty Words”

  1. Gregory Porter November 18, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    What a great blog post. I think it is also important to realize that just because we set our Facebook to “private” that does not mean that it is truly “private.” Many companies are able to use mutual friends and other methods in order to determine if you are a person in good moral “character.” We must always be careful to control what is put online about us and what people may see. Unfortunately, people often have pictures of them posted which do not accurately reflect their/ true character or misrepresent what someone was doing. It is a sad truth that we really must use extreme caution when using Facebook and what pictures/posts we allow to be posted of us.


  2. Daniel Duggal November 21, 2011 at 3:31 am #


    Something to keep in mind with regards to your comment is the importance of actually having an online presence.

    We spoke about this in our Management 250 class, but to repeat the hypothetical situation: there is one job candidate who has an online presence that is both positive and negative in nature and then there is one candidate that has no online presence. Now I think it definitely depends on the nature and extent of a negative offense, but if someone has nothing when I look online that is a negative in my opinion.

    Ultimately, it comes down to each persons’ value system. That said, in the discourse of online presence we rarely talk about how it is important to have a balanced, positive online presence – not just to not have a negative presence.

    -Daniel D

  3. Michael Cohen December 1, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    In regard to Daniel’s point, I think the best solution might be a neutral online presence. Facebook allows you to set your profile so that others can search for you and see that you have a profile. But, at the same time, they cannot see anything beyond your main profile picture. As long as your profile picture is appropriate, you can be safe from the direct view of employers while still maintaining an online presence.

    At the same time, students often have well in excess of 1000 Facebook friends in this day and age. Not all of these people will be loyal to you if push comes to shove. If you plan on having a public presence post-graduation, I’d advise censoring yourself now.

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