Policy change leads to employee grumbling on Via Christi Health’s Facebook page before comments were removed

WICHITA — A policy change related to employee cafeteria discounts led to a minor Facebook dustup for Via Christi Health this week.

Employees no longer will receive discounts at any of Via Christi’s cafeterias.

“It’s a cost-savings measure,” says Judy Espinoza, chief human resource officer.

Also, she says there were a range of discounts depending on locations, and some sites didn’t have any.

“It was very inconsistent.”

After the change was announced, some employees took to Via Christi’s main Facebook page to complain.

“It was very obvious the employees did not know they were on the public page,” Espinoza says. “You could tell from the language.”

Also, she says some comments tagged employees who weren’t part of the conversation although they appeared to be.

“That kind of crosses the line,” Espinoza says.

“I’m not a Facebook savvy person,” she says, but if she were caught in a similar situation, “I’d just be mortified.”

She says Via Christi made the decision to remove the comments after one employee who was tagged expressed concern.

“It was out of respect for employees,” Espinoza says. “We were very, very explicit that this was not punitive.”

She says Via Christi respects free speech.

“It’s a brave new world, and you’re going to hear things you don’t want to hear, and that’s OK.”

Via Christi does, though, have social media guidelines prohibiting disparaging remarks and inappropriate language, and Espinoza says some of the comments related to the discounts had both.

In the past, she says, “These conversations always took place around the water cooler.”

The conversations now are much more public, Espinoza says, whether employees want them to be or not.

“A lot of times in social media, you truly don’t know who you’re sharing it with.”