Should 14 El Monte, Calif. Lifeguards have been fired for making this video?

Here it is... You be the judge!

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It is difficult to say, just with the video.... I don't know all the details to give a opinon.

IMO, this video has good and bad in it.  Yes, free viral advertising is good.  But in this case it can hurt.  The youtube description states "All footage was recorded off the clock during breaks and free time."  but does everyone know that.  

From the embedded version of this video, there is no description.  If I didn't know any better, I would probably think this was done with patrons in the water.  This is where the bad publicity begins.  

The description says that he City also fired the Manager even though he wasn't in the video.  In this day and age, almost everything must be approved before posting to the internet.  I went through 20 emails before I was allowed to post Job openings on sites other than my jobs.  

For the Manager to allow the lifeguards to perform and tape unsafe acts (im refereing to the lifeguard on the diving boards with lane lines in the water) is irresponsible.  Inappropriate parts of the video, however brief, can create problems for city managers.  Citizens will complain about how city funds are being used inappropriately. 

So for the big question, Should the lifeguard have been fired?  I'm going to say they at the most should have received reprimands.  The manager should receive a harsher punishment because he allowed it.  The city should demand for the video the be removed from youtube.  The city should also create a policy that relates to this type of situation.

Well, now I know that they did sign an agreement.  So I would say that my opinion would have to change.  I do feel the city made the right decision.  

Incidents like this is why it is important for entities to create policies and educate their staff about the policies and consequences for non-compliance. I had a past experience where we created a policy stating that staff could not take pictures, videos, or post anything regarding any staff member or City facility on any social media without prior approval. Staff were educated about this policy at the season in-service and told that any unauthorized pictures or videos would result in termination.

We referred to that policy when we had an incident in which eight aquatic staff (including a pool manager) taped a video of themselves performing CPR on a bird (resuscitation mask and oxygen hooked up) and posted it on the internet. All were terminated and we referred to the policy, not to mention misuse of City equipment.

I am with Ricardo. We don't know the complete situation or whether they had a policy in place. Even if they did not, this video is definitely not a reflection of something I would want out there of my staff, many inappropriate scenes. Great that they wanted to get together and do something, bad judgement in how it was done and for not getting prior approval. If there was no policy the staff at the least deserved a reprimand for conduct unbecoming staff, and the manager is probably the main one I would terminate for allowing it to happen on his watch. Managers are held to a higher standard and are expected to be able to make effective judgement calls.

Obviously the video had some not-so-subtle sexuality that was slightly distasteful until the end... which was an obvious sexual innuendo in the hot tub.  If I were the city manager, I'd have made the same call, fire the lot of them.  

With their poor judgement, the pool and patrons will be much better off.  As a parent, I'd have interpreted the video as a highly inappropriate, distasteful, and a good reason to keep my children FAR from these horny teens.

We do lack details on the situation, but if you go to the Youtube page that this video comes from, there are a lot of links to different news articles about this.  The NBC Los Angeles article says that "all of the employees had signed an acknowledgement upon their hiring that stated they would not use city property for 'private use or benefit.'"

If the goal was to make a promotional video for the pool, then there would have been proper channels to follow and approval to gain from city administrators.  The video was pretty sexualized, and if someone above them had the ability to review this, I don't know if it would have been approved.  

I've been trying to think about how I would react if I found out my staff had utilized the facility after hours, filmed and posted a video like this online.  I'm having difficulty coming up with an argument to defend the guards.  This feels like another in the long list of people who did something they probably shouldn't have, and then because the information made it online, they were caught and paid for it.

I am of two minds.

This group of lifeguards show everything we as managers try to achieve each year. They worked together as a team in a creative way. I would be positive that this group of lifeguards would be able to work efficiently together in an emergency situation and probably go above and beyond when it comes to customer service. This type of talent and or creativity, when channeled in the right direction, could probably elevate this city's online persona and connect with its community to build an even strong relatiosnhip with it users.

On the other hand, I understand that once the video was posted without going through the right channels the opportunity to make something great for the city was lost. The suggestive moves were obviously made with a different audience in mind. I do think, however, that disciplinary action and removal of the video would have been more appropriate action.

We have also faced a youtube post dilemma and I think our lifeguards have learned from it and we maintain veteran and knowledgable staff because we worked through their lapse of judgement with them.

I agree with Traci and some of the others of you that this is a largely harmless attempt to do something as a group that speaks to teamwork while aligning to a current trend. Ironically, if the city of El Monte had just had a talk with their staff and asked for the video to be taken down, this issue probably would have just faded to nothing.

To better understand this issue, I did research on PSY and the GINGHAM STYLE video. I also watched Gingham Style (a few times actually). I love the video; it is humorous and energetic. It has no real offensive material -- it is about a district in Seoul that is equivalent to Beverly Hills. The video uses dance moves to depict the Gingham population as both classy and cheesy. I even appreciate the sentiment.

Here is an article about Ellen and Britney Spears learns the dance from PSY on daytime TV:

He are some other lifeguard videos: and Call Me Maybe is a major theme; here's another by junior lifeguards: And there are others! Many others.

The reason why you see these performed by lifeguards and junior lifeguards is because they are a team. One positive thing I see from the whole thing is that they are working together in a creative way. A team with problems do not interact well let alone produce music video parodies. You could make an argument that this is team building at best and misguided at worse.

Did they bend some rules? - perhaps. If so, make this a teachable moment. In my day, we made videos as well with our team and had water shows with clown diving. We did a Super 8 mm video called Clinty, which was a parody of Rocky starring our morning maintenance lifeguard, whose name was Clint. If there was a YouTube at the time, we would have posted it.

We also made a video called a Day in the Life of Our Pool that featured a child we loved who had cerebral palsy as a super hero (along with goofy lifeguards) who saved the pool from a villian called the Evil Squeezer.

I guess my main point is that some of these things are a natural off-shoot of putting a great team together. And this should be guided and encouraged, not punished.

By the way, I just heard on the news that the El Monte 14 may be getting their jobs back.

I also want to agree with Lisa. This would be a more serious offence if they had been told not to use company premises or shoot videos of company employees or post videos. I want to make it clear that I do not condone policy violation in the least. If such a policy exists and they were informed of it in advance, that is a serious breach that individuals who are given authority to safeguard the public should not commit.

Ron, after taking a look at the links you put on here, I believe staff responsible for these videos could be in similar trouble to that of the El Monte staff.

Did those shooting the Bad Lifeguard video get the permission of all the people in the background of their opening shot?  How about the dangers they cause in their video?  There are two guys who look like they nearly hit their heads on the side of the pool at 2:20.  Would this facility normally allow 11 people to stand on the inside of that slide at 4:48?  

The Capitola Junior Lifeguards video is a lot more tame than the others, but it still raises some questions.  The most obvious one for me is, did they get parental permission from all of those minors?  There are a lot of kids in that video, and some of their parents may not want thousands of people seeing them online.  Some parent could want the video pulled down or at least, re-edited.  

Some comments on the El Monte video said it could have been used as a promotional tool to promote the facility, but when did it ever highlight the pool itself?  The same question goes for the Bad Lifeguard video.  What message is it delivering?  What is it promoting?  Does it highlight the facility or the staff in a positive way?  

I'd bet that a lot of professionals on this site have either terminated a current employee or opted to not hire a potential one due to their social media use.  I feel like the El Monte case falls into this category.

I don't think this needs to be dragged out. I feel both ways. However, I do believe that videos such as these are team-building in nature and fun. As I mentioned before, if they crossed the line (especially if there is written policy to the effect), they need to understand where they went wrong. Given the offense, termination seems to be somewhat harsh.

I do not know anything about the links I put up other than that they are there and there is nothing in the news about others being fired. The junior lifeguard video seems to be organized like it was a planned activity. I hope that the organizers sought parental approval - those kids aren't doing anything that they should be ashamed of. Even the Miami Dolphin cheerleaders and the US Military did versions of Call Me Maybe (using uniforms and company logos!).

The worse thing the El Monte 14 did was use uniforms and the premises. Would they have been in the same trouble if they did this at the Mall or a City Park on their day off?

If they're wearing pedestrian clothes in a mall that doesn't employ them, are they representatives of the mall?  No.

If they're in city uniform on city property for a city that employs them, are they representatives of the city?  Yes.


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