A 37-year-old high school guidance counselor in New York has been fired because she posed for some PG-13 sexy photos almost 20 years ago. Tiffany Webb never received a negative performance review, and she handled 540 students at a school in downtown Manhattan. She has been a teacher and counselor at various city schools since 1999. Last year, just days before she was set to receive tenure in an $84,200 position, she was fired.
Webb disclosed her former life as a lingerie model when she was first hired. But though she posed for photos many years ago, the shots have taken on a life of their own online. They continue to appear on sites like “Showgirlz Exclusive” (official homepage of well-adjusted dudes worldwide), in many cases Photoshopped or otherwise altered.
“The inappropriate photos were accessible to impressionable adolescents,” the committee that upheld her firing ruled. “That behavior has a potentially adverse influence on her ability to counsel students and be regarded as a role model.”
Webb has changed her name and taken a teaching job in New Jersey. She’s also suing the New York Department of Education for wrongful termination, sex discrimination, and violation of her First Amendment rights.
When New York City school teacher Melissa Petro was fired last year for writing about her past career as a prostitute, I thought there was at least a decent argument that the school district had acted fairly. But this is ridiculous. Lingerie photos are embarrassing and sleazy, but they’re not porn or prostitution. If you fire someone for doing something a bit embarrassing — but completely legal — 17 years ago, you might as well take out a want ad that says, “Actual humans need not apply.”