Tech Worker Fired After Tweeting About Crude Joke, Setting Off Controversy

Tech Worker Fired After Tweeting About Crude Joke, Setting Off Controversy

A techie was fired after tweeting about a crude joke she overheard at a computer programming conference, getting one of the alleged jokesters fired and setting off a debate about gender equality within the male-dominated IT world.

Adria Richards recounted the incident, which took place on Sunday at a conference in Santa Clara. She said two men behind her started joking about “big dongles,” which is the name for a device that plugs into a computer but was referre to in a sexual way, she said.

Upset over hearing the joke, Richards took a picture of the two men and posted it on Twitter along with the crude joke.

Her tweet got the attention of the organizers of the conference, who met with Richards and the two alleged jokesters.

“We pulled all the individuals aside. We got all sides of the story. They said she was right, and they were very apologetic,” Jesse Noller, chair of the PyCon 2013 conference, told The Associated Press.

But the incident didn’t end there. One of the two men, an employee of PlayHaven, was fired.

“PlayHaven had an employee who was identified as making inappropriate comments at PyCon, and as a company that is dedicated to gender equality and values honorable behavior, we conducted a thorough investigation. The result of this investigation led to the unfortunate outcome of having to let this employee go,” PlayHaven CEO Andy Yang said in a blog posting.

That wasn’t the only fallout. Richards was also fired for tweeting the identities of the two men involved.

Jim Franklin, CEO of her employer SendGrid, said the techie was right to report the incident but should not have shamed those involved.

“Her decision to tweet the comments and photographs of the people who made the comments crossed the line,” Franklin wrote in a blog post on the site. “Publicly shaming the offenders — and bystanders — was not the appropriate way to handle the situation.”

Adria Richard Fired After Tweet