A San Francisco Bay Area yoga instructor didn’t like when a student tapped away on her cell phone during a class at Facebook’s headquarters so she asked her to put the phone way.
Little did she know that simple request would cost her a job.
The instructor, Alice Van Ness, has been teaching yoga since 2006 and says her cell phone policy is al about respect.
“Why are you here, if you don’t want to pay attention?”, said Van Ness.
Van Ness said she was teaching at the Facebook Fitness Center in Menlo Park last month, when she told the beginners class to turn off cell phones, after seeing a female Facebook employee with hers out.
But in the midst of Van Ness teaching the “half moon pose,” that same student, sitting directly in front of her, picked up her phone to text.
Van Ness said she shot her a look of disapproval, causing the woman to step out.
Two weeks later, Van Ness was fired.
She believes the woman was humiliated.
A termination letter from the fitness center’s management company, Plus One Health Management, provided to the Associated Press said that Van Ness had been previously told she can’t enforce a cell phone ban.
“We are in the business of providing great customer service,” the letter said. “Unless a client requires us to specifically say ‘no’ to something, we prefer to say ‘yes’ whenever possible.”
The Palo Alto Daily News reported that Van Ness’ termination letter also said she “made a spectacle of her (the offended student)” with her request.
“This is no different than being at a movie theater or at a meeting and someone’s texting away,” said Van Ness, who uses Facebook. “Are you even paying attention?”
She said that she had been teaching at the Facebook campus since March, but with her firing, she lost about one-third of her work as a contract yoga instructor. She also lost her job with Cisco, which uses the same fitness center management company.
Facebook declined to comment because the incident involved an outside vendor, according to reports.
Some social media users reacted with shock that people would divert their attention to check their phone during — of all places — a yoga class.
“Disconnecting is part of yoga and pilates! Kudos to this instructor & shame on Facebook for missing the point!” wrote a user on Twitter.
“The customer isn’t always right ... it’s rude to the teacher and fellow students to be on your phone during a class!” tweeted another user.
Van Ness, meanwhile, said she’s found serenity — and more work — since her firing.
“From the feedback I’ve gotten, people have been very supportive ... I have moved on,” she said.