Remote Worker Says Employer Took Pic Through Her Own Webcam, Fired Her For Sharing On TikTok

Ashley Hunte
TikToker MichaeJay sharing a screenshot of her working showing a picture of her cooking.
TikTok | @michaejay22

For many, working from home provides a lot of flexibility for their personal lives. For others, it's nothing but an absolute nightmare. A lot of that has to do with whether or not your workplace monitors your productivity.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, many workplaces switched to remote work. With that growing number came similar growing numbers of workplaces that also installed surveillance software onto workers' computers.

One TikToker exposed how her workplace monitored her on the job.

A camera on top of a computer monitor.
Unsplash | Emiliano Cicero

The TikTok user, who goes by MichaeJay (@michaejay22), posted a viral TikTok last week, showing how the company she'd been working for sent her a picture (taken using her webcam) wherein she was cooking, prompting them to lock her out of her work software.

The screen reads, "NOT AT DESK Action Applied. Please get approval from Supervisor to retry."

"Y'all, these people done locked my computer... They done locked my computer because I was in the kitchen cooking," she says in the TikTok. "Bro, this is why they don't want us working from home because look at this."

The TikTok has gained over 480,000 views since it was posted a week ago.

A computer desk set up, complete with a camera on the monitor.
Unsplash | Ryland Dean

It sparked outrage over the sheer lack of privacy MichaeJay had while working from home.

"Girl you should always cover your camera," one user commented below the video.

Of course, it wasn't quite that simple.

A webcam on top of a computer monitor that's also displaying a word processing software.
Unsplash | Waldemar Brandt

In a response to the comment, MichaeJay posted a second TikTok clarifying that she can't actually turn the camera off or cover it.

"Okay y'all, so unfortunately I am not allowed to cover my camera. If it was up to me, I wouldn't even have the camera plugged in."

She then goes on to explain that the webcam is how her company monitors her every movement.

"The webcam is to take pictures of you throughout the day. If you're not at your desk, it locks your computer, if there's somebody in the background, it locks your computer. If you have a mobile device, it locks your computer."

She also explains that she'd forgotten to lock her screen before getting up from her computer.

Yara Shahidi making a face of exhaustion and annoyance.
Giphy | The Paley Center for Media

"It literally took me 45 minutes to get back in, because this is happening all throughout the day. Not just with me but for other employees as well."

Unfortunately, this kind of monitoring does happen, and companies are within their rights to do so.

A few days later, MichaeJay updated her followers on her job situation.

Her workplace claimed that her social media posts were grounds for termination from her job.

"I do want to go ahead and inform everyone that I was fired, initially fired from my job because of what I posted on TikTok."

She then says that she'd asked HR for a copy of the employee handbook.

A computer showing an active Zoom meeting.
Unsplash | charlesdeluvio

"Shortly after I was 'fired' I got a call back asking me to join a Zoom... When I join the Zoom, there's 3 different people in there... they say, 'hey, you're not fired. You're suspended until further notice. After we do a thorough investigation of what's going on in TikTok, we'll give you a call back to let you know if you have your job or not.'"

But not long after that, MichaeJay updated her followers once again with the news that she doesn't have a job.

"Today is the first day that I no longer have a job, and I'm stepping out on faith an trusting God," she says,

Many followers were quick to express how frustrating and exhausting these kinds of jobs are.

A woman saying, "This is getting ridiculous."
Giphy | CBC

A commenter on the original video wrote, "I can’t work customer service. I did call center because I needed a job ASAP, but I didn’t last 3 months. It’s inhumane."

Another pointed out, "This level of micromanagement will keep them with a high turn over rate."

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!