Facebook Yoga Teacher Fired For Asking Employee To Turn Off Phone

A yoga instructor hired by Facebook to run classes for its employees was fired in March for banning students from checking their mobile devices while in a class.

Alice Van Ness, 35, had a long-standing ‘no phone in class’ policy, but one student in particular seemed to ignore it, and when the yoga teacher gave the student a disapproving look, they left the class to carry on using their device. The student in question went on to complain to Van Ness’ managers, and she was subsequently fired two weeks later.

Van Ness’ direct employer – Plus One Health Management – had allegedly told her not to say “no” to any of the Facebook employees, with her termination letter explaining stating:

“[Plus One Health Management] are in the business of providing great customer service… Unless a client requires us to specifically say no to something, we prefer to say yes whenever possible.”

As you may well imagine, Van Ness was somewhat perturbed by the whole experience: “We’re not talking about the U.S. government here. We’re not talking about ‘Russia is about to bomb us’. We’re talking about Facebook. Something can’t wait half an hour?”

An article from the website for the San Francisco Chronicle also says that being fired from Facebook has cost her a position teaching yoga at Cisco Systems.

Do you think that this incident was enough to warrant Facebook firing Alice Van Ness? In my own opinion, given that yoga is something intended to calm and focus both mind and body, phones should be turned off or left at the door. If a company wants to bring in an outside expert to teach a yoga class, perhaps they should trust the judgement of the trained professional, rather than the employee who clearly didn’t care to be there.