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Vetting Procedures / Photo's of Airsoft

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Hi, I am looking for some advice (please feel free to move if the wrong place). I will not include any names here for obvious reasons but I am being denied clearance currently at work for 'unprofessional' behavior as there are airsofting photos of me on facebook which can be publicly seen.

 

All photo's are either in my garden of load outs, or at professional games and were during my active airsofting phase (while I held UKARA). Also 1 shot of me with a real firearm (in the US) target shooting. The argument appears to simply be that having photo's of yourself with a 'weapon' is unprofessional / unacceptable.

 

Is there any legal basis I can defend myself with? Has anyone else had similar challenges with work and this hobby?

 

While I can simply remove all the photo's I feel this is unfair, this was a part of my life, this is a legal hobby and I don't want to live in a country where I have to self censor because of public opinion. Ironically I am sure recent events are the driver (maybe I look too scary), but free speech is what the recent events are really all about.

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There's no legal basis really. Companies are free to make whatever policies they like as long as they don't unfairly discriminate according to law. Unfortunately "airsofters" are not really a legally defended minority!

 

You also don't say what your job is which may well be relevant to why they feel you should be denied clearance.

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Difficult to say whether it could be regarded as unprofessional if we don't know what the profession is, and you do also mention some kind of 'clearance' issue too. For example, if you were a bereavement counsellor or an undertaker, I could see how publicly available pictures of you dressed in combat gear with a rifle might be regarded as unprofessional if they could easily be located by some kind of work connection, since you could end up having to deal with someone who had a friend or relative who had been killed in a war or something like that, so it would not exactly be very sensitive of somebody to be dressed up like Rambo under those circumstances.

 

On the other hand, I think most would regard Facebook as your own personal business, and if somebody I'd dealt with at work looked me up on Facebook and saw pics of me dressed in combat gear and got upset about it, I'd say that's their tough luck really, since my Facebook page is bugger all to do with my work.

 

Trouble is, much of employment law leaves employers to make up their own rules about what is acceptable behaviour, although if they start adding stuff after the fat that was not in your employment contract, then they might be on shaky ground with their complaint.

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Thanks, I cant go into my profession as I don't want anyone to link this back to anyone involved, although ironically its not related to the guys I work for who have been great, its a tenuous link to say the least with a potential supplier. Pain not being able to go into detail, but its looking like someone who is just uninitiated in the ways of airsoft and just doesn't like 'guns'. They may have good personal reasons, but I dont think that should have a professional bearing.

 

I have written a careful and gentle introduction on what it is, how its legal and how we play including 'loadouts' that I hope will resolve the concerns.

 

I think I can say I don't work with the general public or public facing (not that they should be hunting my personal photo's down either), so this check should be more about someones ability to coerce me or illegal activity than anything else. Its not like I am ashamed of any of my pics, nor could any of them imply any threat to anyone or have any hold over me.

 

I have chosen to take down all images for my own sanity, but I am concerned on the precedent here.

 

So I suppose this is as much a warning to my fellow players who work in the business world, be very careful what you post with a 'Public' view tag. This includes backgrounds, profile pics (both of which are always public) and potentially posts from other airsofters.

 

This is liable only to get worse as we go on, I wish I had the ability to be a fighter for freedom of speech but I have taken the cowards way out. Some may say its a sensible one, but its still something I do with a heavy heart.

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No different to a company checking out a person's Facebook page before deciding to employ them or not in my view, I think it's fair enough. It's a pain yes but a lot of people in the country don't like anything gun-shaped, so always something worth keeping on the quiet side, or at least changing the privacy settings to keep hidden.

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Good luck and i hope this doesn't affect your clearance or work?

I feel for you having to succumb to what you see as unfair intrusion and censorship and as has already been posted, it is difficult to give any advice without know what their grounds for labeling your photos "unprofessional" are?

You may well have a case for them prejudicing or discriminating against you, but if as has already been said, such images could cause reputational damage to your organisation, they may feel validated in their claim.

You mention "clearance"? Are you talking about some form of reference checks? or some form of security vetting?

I have to deal with security clearance and vetting as part of my current job and I can understand why some organisations would feel that certain photos of their employees posted on social media can show said organisation in a bad light. Even MPs have come a cropper over this!

For most organisations, its not that they find what you do unacceptable, its that if something is linked to their organisation that has the potential to cause negative press, they get twitchy.

and to the uninformed, Airsoft can seem to trigger a range of responses from "blokes playing soldiers" to "gun nuts training for god knows what?!"

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Certainly sucks. Everything you say or do online will be stored away in server rooms till the end of time it seems. The Internet was such a nice anonymous place once upon a time!

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Just locked out your Facebook problem solved. I don't have any work colleagues on my Facebook or anyone who relates to the business I work for.

Everyone I work with knows what I do and some of my clients do as well and it's a talking point. My personal opinion and what I say to people who see a pic or pics of me in my load out and don't like it............ Don't F**KING look then Duh.

It's not a sackable offence wearing a load out nor is it one to have a pic of you at a gun range in the States. What you do in your personal time is your time not the companies time.

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Whilst it's true and I wholeheartedly agree with the principle Qlimax, unfortunately there are an increasing number of companies that don't see it this way, particularly if you work involves some form of security clearance. The company or organisation may well have a policy on the use of social media and may wish to exercise some form of control over what you post.

you're right, the simple answer is to lock your pages and posts to all but friends, if the company doesn't see them, then it shouldn't be an issue.

The company won't be trying to control what you do, they're simply trying to protect their image or reputation.

It's not just airsoft either, but anything an organisation may feel brings bad publicity, bar crawls in Greece, drunken parties etc.

It may not be right or proper, it may be an invasion of privacy, but if we put it on the internet, then its so others can see, it's no longer private.

Companies, organisations and governments are struggling to come to terms with this, just as much as individuals are, Welcome to the 21st Century!

I guess the lesson to learn is, think before you post, especially if you work for someone or plan to work for someone who's twitchy about such things?

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We live in a country where the prevailing thought is that guns are just bad and people have no need for them in their lives. Thus pictures with RIFs are deeply disturbing to many people. Its usually best to keep the hobby under wraps and only disclose to the people you think will respond relatively positively to the news. Avoid having pictures on your facebook that could link you to the sport. Its not about legality its about people prejudices and odds are you are going to find people offended by it. We don't live in a society where our first thought is to ask "oh whats airsoft", the first thought is "he's a gun touting lunatic, deport him". Its not your fault, its theirs, but we live in their world not ours as it is for so many minorities we have to do things to fit in so everyone else is comfortable even if they are living a lie.

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I work with teenagers, many of them vulnerable, my boss know what I do and its not seen as unprofessional. I work with my brother who talks about airsoft at work, and I try to keep it a little quiet as I do not want some of the young people knowing I have RIFs and am able to obtain them, but he says a lot which I find a little unprofessional.

 

However it turns out one of our young persons plays regularly at the same sites as us :blink: Not sure what boundries this crosses, but Its the same when I see my young people in bars locally. I ignore and leave. However I wont be leaving a skirmish, would just rather not highlight it at work and make it clear we did not plan to be there together as its perfectly legal for them to be there and a bit different to being in a bar with them.

 

 

And yes, whatever is posted online become public property pretty much and many industries will look to your online behaviour and perceptions as an accurate view of the person, WRONGLY.. Partly why I have hardly any online presence, no FB or twitter etc... My best mate nearly got the sack for a off the cuff remark about a suppliers Rep being an idiot and the company put 2 and 2 together and found him and he got in big trouble...

 

Whilst your hobbies are yours to have, it might be better to review how public your information is if your job is that strict..!!!

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Well the good news is I now have my clearance, but its been a painful experience all round.

 

Rather ironic that this sort of view forces so many of us to 'hide' our hobby to protect our jobs as shown by the posts above. Since I would have thought a security check that finds I have a 'hidden' life would be concerning than one that shows I am open honest person who happens to play a game with RIF's.

 

Thanks for all the views and the supportive PM's, they made the difference and let me keep my sanity.

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Congrats my friend, it is a difficult issue for many of us.

u are quite right, most the the higher levels of security clearance will require what is known as "full disclosure", the point being that as long as it is legal, there are no issue, as to reputational damage, you may have to abide by an organisations policy on social media posts. Meaning, you don't have to stop, just don't post it!

 

I would guess that this is a difficult and sensitive minefield for many of us and we have to balance our professional careers, with our hobby and our on line profile.

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