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Yoga Teacher Fired for Telling Facebook Employee 'No Phones'

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

At least one Facebook employee couldn't put down her cell phone in June, even when the yoga teacher made a point of asking students to stop texting during class.

Alice Van Ness was teaching a yoga class at Facebook's Menlo Park campus when she asked students to put away their cell phones. During the class, a female student took out her phone and started texting while doing half-moon pose.

Van Ness gave her a stern look for breaking the no-cell-phones rule but said nothing reports New York Daily News.

She didn't make a statement then, but Van Ness has certainly made one since Wednesday.

The 35-year-old yoga teacher who has been teaching since 2006 was fired, allegedly because she didn't sit idly by while the Facebook employee texted in class.

Van Ness was employed not by Facebook, but by a third-party contractor called Plus One Health Management. Her termination letter included a complaint from the employee. While Plus One would not comment on the story, the letter indicates that the cell phone ban was at least part of the firing.

Most employment contracts in California are "at will" meaning employees can be fired for no reason at all.

That doesn't mean employment discrimination laws don't apply. Even if employers don't need a reason to fire someone, they can't get rid of an employee because of their race, religion, ethnicity, family status, or other protected factors.

For Van Ness, there does seem to be a reason for her firing but it's not related to a protected status so there isn't much she can do about Plus One terminating her job.

Luckily, others are seeing the wisdom in her firm no-cell-phones policy during yoga class. Traffic on Twitter and even Facebook seems to largely support Van Ness's choice to not tolerate cell phone use in her classes, according to The San Jose Mercury.

That Facebook employee may no longer have to deal with disapproving looks while she texts during yoga, but Van Ness will have the last laugh. From all this publicity she's gotten some new jobs as a yoga teacher at places that respect her cell phone ban.

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