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Tweet costs Pa. development agency worker her job

- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 8, 2011

BETHLEHEM, PA. (AP) - An economic development agency has let one of its employees go over a Twitter post that suggested her colleagues knock off work early to play golf.

Social media specialist Vanessa Williams lost her job with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. after she used the agency's official Twitter account on Friday to tweet: "We start summer hours today. That means most of the staff leave at noon, many to hit the links. Do you observe summer hours? What do you do?"

Williams was given severance papers over the weekend, partly because of the Twitter message, President and CEO Phil Mitman told The Morning Call of Allentown.

"I think this is an interesting lesson for all of us about the use of social media and about how chatty and how much information goes out there immediately and what the consequences are," said Mitman, calling the tweet "out of line."

He said the agency does allow workers to leave early on Fridays, but only if they've already worked 40 hours. No one left early on Friday, he noted.

Williams declined to comment when reached by to The Morning Call. She did not immediately respond to messages left by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. is partly funded with tax dollars, including about $800,000 a year from a regional hotel tax and annual allocations from Lehigh and Northampton counties. Its mission is to bring new companies to the Lehigh Valley, a region that includes the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, and help existing businesses expand.

After Williams' tweet, another Twitter user asked if the Valley would be more "economically competitive" if the agency's staff stayed at their desks until 5 p.m. on Fridays.

The agency then followed with several clarifying tweets, including one that said, "critical staff stay here all day. Always have someone here from (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) M-F." Another said, "Nobody teeing off today. Too much work to do _ short week with Monday."

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Information from: The Morning Call, http://www.mcall.com

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