We live and conduct business during an ever-evolving technological age in which a fleeting thought or deeply held belief can negatively affect your reputation, cause you to lose your job—or both.
In 2018, sharing a single opinion on social media can prompt social or economic tidal waves so dire that the phenomenon itself was the subject of bestselling author Jon Ronson's 2016 book “So You've Been Publicly Shamed.”
On June 6, CrossFit’s Russell Berger was fired over a series of since-deleted tweets that Deadspin called "homophobic,” and CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman told BuzzFeed News were “stupid,” “unfortunate” and the act of a “zealot.”
Berger tweeted support for an affiliate box owner who had cancelled a workout at his Indianapolis CrossFit location, CrossFit Infiltrate, that had been organized by his staff in support of Pride Month. The cancellation caused an uproar among many members and employees, ultimately leading to the box’s closure.
Berger long served as CrossFit’s defacto spokesperson, chief knowledge officer and staunchest supporter, as detailed in a November 2016 interview with Club Industry.
Berger's firing raises a legitimate question for fitness business owner-operators: Should you worry about what your staff is posting on social media? Furthermore, are you ethically justified in taking action against your staff if you disagree with their viewpoints and those viewpoints become public?
Berger told Club Industry he worked directly for Glassman since 2012. According to a recent Washington Post article, he even recently traveling with Glassman to Washington, DC, to lobby members of Congress against Big Soda. He also writes a blog called The Russells with CrossFit's Director of Government Relations and Research Russell Greene.
Both men expressed shock over their long-time colleague's actions. Greene took to Twitter to say that Berger is his friend but made a mistake and should have taken his responsibility within the CrossFit community more seriously.
CrossFit originally placed Berger on administrative leave before firing him on June 6.
Politically charged opinions may have recently become total taboo in the health club space. Earlier this year, Life Time made national news when the Minnesota-based company announced it would no longer show cable news channels on TVs at its 128 locations. Other clubs around the country have done the same, to the scrutiny of many dues-paying members.
What are your thoughts about social media-related firings in the health club industry? Share your comments with us—and any club policies you may have in place—in the comment section below, as well as on Facebook or Twitter.