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A Detroit Area Ford Dealership Fires Employee for Inflammatory Social Media Comment During UAW Strike
In a recent incident, a Ford dealership in the Detroit area owned by Lithia Motors Inc. has made the decision to terminate an employee who posted a provocative comment about the UAW on social media. This action occurred at a time when thousands of Ford workers were on strike.
The apology posted on Suburban Ford of Ferndale’s Facebook page acknowledged the “hateful” comments made by a former parts department employee. Although the post has since been taken down, the dealership expressed regret for the offensive remarks.
It remains uncertain when the employee made these comments or which specific post they were responding to. However, screenshots shared over the weekend reveal that the employee questioned the union’s demand for 32 working hours compensated as 40 hours, expressed concern about how the strike might affect their employment, and used profanity against the UAW.
Violation of Social Media Policy Leads to Termination
According to a spokesperson from Lithia, the company terminated the employee on Friday due to a violation of their social media policy. The former employee’s profile has been removed from the dealership’s website, and their Facebook profile appears to have been taken down as well.
In a Facebook post, Suburban Ford of Ferndale clarified that while they cannot control individual opinions expressed on social media, they do not support the message conveyed by the former employee. The dealership affirmed their support for all UAW workers and their right to strike.
UAW Strike and Public Response
Last Friday, the UAW initiated a historic strike against the three major Detroit automakers. Currently, around 13,000 workers from General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and Stellantis are participating in the strike. For Ford workers, the strike takes place at the Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, located in the Detroit area.
The UAW President, Shawn Fain, announced in a video on Monday that the automakers have until noon this Friday to make significant progress in negotiations before he escalates the strike actions.
Impact on the Dealership’s Reputation
Suburban Ford of Ferndale is a part of Lithia’s Suburban Collection in southeast Michigan. Following the incident, a few individuals left negative reviews on the dealership’s Facebook page to express their dissatisfaction with the former employee’s comments. Additionally, previous Facebook posts by the dealership were filled with frustrated commenters.
Thom Fladung, the managing partner for the crisis communications company Hennes Communications, emphasized that inappropriate use of social media by employees can result in self-inflicted crises. Fladung stated that employees have the right to express their opinions on social media, but they should also be aware of the potential impact on their employers and the consequences their actions may have.
About Lithia Motors Inc.
Based in Medford, Oregon, Lithia Motors Inc. is the number one dealership group on Automotive News’ list of the top 150 dealership groups in the United States. In 2022, the company retailed 271,596 new vehicles, including those sold by dealerships outside the U.S.