Lawyer puts down her secretary on Facebook

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: My cousin is a young and ambitious attorney, but if you looked at her social networking pages you might think she was still in college. Her Facebook feed is filled with disparaging and mean comments about her secretary. She makes fun of the questions her secretary asks, the way she looks and dresses, and her work ethic. (She called it "lazy" when her secretary asked which task from a list she'd been given was the highest priority.) She usually appends each update with a comment like, "No wonder she's just a secretary." My mother and sister both have office-support jobs. I know that they find these comments especially painful.

It's inappropriate to talk about your work that way on social networking sites and it's wrong to hold the belief that people become secretaries because they are incompetent or inferior. Previous attempts to bring this up with her have ended in statements like, "You're not a lawyer, so you don't understand." What can we say to her that will get her to realize not only how hurtful she's being, but also that a secretarial job is not a consolation prize for the less intelligent?--Flummoxed

DEAR FLUMMOXED: When people publish objectionable public posts on a social networking site, the best way to respond is by connecting your reaction to the post on the same site. For instance, your cousin writes something disparaging. Under the post, you respond, "Wow. I can't believe how disrespectful you are toward this person." Your mom and sister can voice their opinions too. Social networking sites offer ample opportunities for people like your cousin to reveal themselves as obnoxious idiots, but they are also vehicles for social correction.

I assume this behavior will eventually earn her a reprimand and/or dismissal. Her comments may be actionable, in which case I hope she doesn't represent herself. Then she would truly have a fool for a client.