Boss dismissing out someone using a post-itThe title should actually say that instant gratification isn’t worth your job or your reputation. I keep reading stories about employees making decisions that seem to produce instant gratification, yet can ultimately hurt them in the future.

The latest, unfortunately,  comes from my ‘home state’ of Ohio—specifically Cincinnati (not my hometown, just to note).

According to news reports, a woman is suing the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and three of its employees after one of the hospital’s workers posted her medical records on Facebook.

Stories say the woman had been treated for a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and “ a screen shot of the woman’s medical record showing her name and her diagnosis of syphilis was posted to the Facebook group “Team No Hoes” in September 2013.”

Reports say the screen shot was also emailed to members of that Facebook group.

Apparently, the woman’s ex-boyfriend works at the hospital and requested that two other workers (one a nurse) post the woman’s medical record on the social media site.

According to a press release, Lee Ann Liska, president and CEO of UC Medical Center, claims that one of the employees has since been terminated for her actions in the matter.

UC Health became aware of this incident shortly after the screenshot of this patient’s billing record appeared on Facebook, when she brought it to our attention. We took swift action and our investigation revealed that the record had been accessed by a Financial Services employee who did not have a business reason to do so. This employee had been fully trained and acknowledged her responsibilities under law and UC Health policy, but apparently accessed the billing record through a personal motivation. The individual’s employment was terminated, and we reported the incident to federal authorities. *bolded emphasis not in original document*

Let’s assess this situation, shall we?

A boyfriend, for whatever reason, wanted to get back at or “hurt” his ex-girlfriend. So, he set out to embarrass her by exposing her personal medical information to the online world. And as a result, the worker who granted his request has lost her job.

And might I throw in that her reputation in the medical field is certainly damaged as well?

This makes me think about the New York Standard Hotel employee who leaked the footage of musicians Solange and Beyonce Knowles and rapper Jay Z in an elevator incident. The employee was fired and, the hotel reported that it had turned all available information over to criminal authorities.

In both cases—the former UC Health employee and hotel worker—the “culprits” not only lost their jobs but will most likely face lawsuits. And all this for what? A moment to publicly embarrass someone and probably a hunk of cash from TMZ that, at the moment, seemed much more appealing than working for a hotel.

Yet, when the laughs and Facebook comments fade away and all the money is spent…when the instant gratification quickly dissipates, then what? These people are left unemployed, carrying around tarnished reputations and trying to figure out ways to explain that they were fired for leaking company information—actions that can be considered illegal, not to mention.

It’s just not worth it.

Workers must do a much better job of assessing opportunity costs (not to mention morals, although in these contexts morality can be subjective). An action may look appealing now and provide a sense of instant gratification, but how does this choice compare with its future results? In these cases, tarnished reputations and potential long-term unemployment (or an even greater struggle during the job search) simply outweigh a laugh or chunk of money that will probably end up being blown on court costs.

We live in this fast-paced world and want our needs satisfied instantly but oftentimes the gratification is only for a moment. And momentary pleasure just isn’t worth your career or reputation—two of life’s aspects that are supposed to not only last but develop over time.

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