Episode 507 : Not a Fan: My Employee Has An OnlyFans

So, you discover your employee has an OnlyFans account. What next? Not only that, but they have a QR code sticker on their water bottle that leads to their page…


Voice Over: You’re about to listen to an episode of What the Hell Just Happened. Join Paul Edwards and his guests as they discuss interesting HR topics and solve some of our listeners’ submitted questions. 


Paul: And occasionally I’ll go off HR topic and talk about whatever I want to talk about. Think barbecue. Space exploration. Technology. Money. Managing. Business. Things that interest all of us.


Voice Over: We get a lot of emails with questions. Stay tuned for details on how you can submit yours to the show. And now let’s get started. 


Paul: Welcome everybody to What The Hell Just Happened in HR. We have a great…This is just a great show. I’m kind of excited to talk about this. First of all, I have this barcode on the back of my car, and one of the employees scanned it, and they’ve discovered that I have OnlyFans page.


Grace: You have a QR code on the back of your?


Paul: Yeah.


Grace: Well, you don’t have a truck anymore. You have your little Subaru. 


Paul: I got my little Subaru. Don’t tell everybody I downsized.


Grace: Sorry, sorry, sorry.


Paul: I still have my truck.


Grace: You still got your truck. Get your popcorn, everybody. We’re off to an exciting start. 


Paul: Okay. 


Grace: Okay. So we found out that Paul has [laughing] an OnlyFans page.


Paul: Really no one ever comes to it. I’m not making any money. I don’t know what the problem is.


Grace: What?! [laughing]


Paul: No one seems excited. Do guys put up OnlyFan pages? 


Grace: Oh yeah. 


Paul: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a stupid question. 


Grace: All kinds. All types. Everybody. Yeah. 


Paul: Okay, so. All right, everybody take a breath. Don’t worry. There’s not an OnlyFans page out there for me. You’re not going to stumble across it.


Grace: Yet. [laughing]


Paul: Yet. But this is something that is coming up a lot. So Grace is joining me. Grace is the manager of the Solution Center, which is our bank of HR experts who answer questions for the CEDR members. We help them with compliance. At the same time we help with human solutions to problems. This is quite a human problem that’s beginning to crop up.So what we can do is we can look into the more than 12 to 13,000 questions that we will get over a year long period and we can begin to see trends. Generally on the podcast, we’re not talking about anybody’s specific problem, we’re looking at trends and then we begin to see the trends pop up in our community, like HR Basecamp on Facebook. You begin to see the questions, “Hey y’all, I just figured out or we just figured out,” and insert problem. This is something that’s beginning to show up quite a bit, which is that the businesses that we work with are discovering that an employee, one or more employees, have OnlyFans pages.


Grace: I’m embarrassed to admit and confess that years ago when we got our first OnlyFans question, I actually had to Google what OnlyFans was because it wasn’t such a common thing.


Paul: It wasn’t in society.


Grace: It hadn’t taken off yet. But we’ve been getting questions that long about OnlyFans in the Solution Center.


Paul: Ever since it kind of came around. Yeah, I had to do the same thing. I had a friend and she said I should put up an OnlyFans page in like a text to me or something and I had no idea what she was doing.


Grace: Yeah, you had to Google it.


Paul: I had to Google it. I was like, “Oh! Interesting.” 


Grace: Surprising Google. So we see it happen in a couple of different ways. The QR codes are a little bit new. That people have a QR code either on their water bottle, you know, everybody’s got their stickers on their water bottle, on a notebook, on their car as a bumper sticker, and their coworkers get curious or their boss gets curious and, “Oh, let me scan that QR code and see where it goes.” Whoops! It goes to your OnlyFans page. We’ve also seen it where these pages are discovered just because a lot of times people live in small communities, close knit communities –


Paul: Word gets out.


Grace: Yeah, through the grapevine. “Did you know that she or her husband or she and her husband?” and so on and so on about the OnlyFans. So employers often, especially if you use, for example, a small close knit dental office which is our common member, or even sometimes like a pediatric office where we’re working with kids, we need to be upstanding professionals in our community. They take issue with that.


Paul: Right.


Grace: They do not want – 


Paul: They are not thrilled that they have an employee who’s on OnlyFans and they see it as a mix. You can’t completely divorce yourself from what you do away from work with what happens at work. Now, we have to be very careful here. There’s a lot of states that have laws in place that say that you can’t regulate an employee’s behavior and what they do is as long as what they’re doing is legal away from work, you can’t really have a policy which forces them or tries to stop them from doing those things. It could be everything from how you vote to what you’re a member of. Like if you want to be a member of the ACLU and you want to go to those meetings and maybe the practice is not down with that, the practice is not supposed to prevent you from being able to do that or take any kind of action. So we have to be a little bit careful about what transcends between the two things. 


Grace: Right. Lawful off duty conduct is the baseline. That’s how you can go wrong with an OnlyFans. But then if we start there, employers out there are going to say, “Well, now what about my business?” So the general standard is if it is impacting a business need – And this is such a fun topic because you get the visual and the story – So this wasn’t one of our members, but we had a case where someone was terminated, but they had posed for some of these photos that they were posting in the business.


Paul: Oh wow!


Grace: Like pretend I was here in this studio taking those pictures.


Paul: Right. So slid in over the weekend and took some pictures. 


Grace: Yeah and that impacts your business hands down. You can terminate that person right then and there because they dragged your premises, your business, your name into it. We do have some handbook policies that come into play.


Paul: And they work really well. Hey, Grace –


Grace: [laughing] Can we get his evil smile there because you are like you’ve thought of everything.


Paul: We have thought of everything. I love it when a member calls in and says, I need a policy for this.” And we’re like, “You already have it.” And they’re like, “No, I don’t. It doesn’t say that.” We’re like, “No, this covers that.” 


Grace: It’s there. [laughing]


Paul: It’s there. It’s broad, It covers. Don’t we have a policy about moonlighting?


Grace: We do.


Paul: And what does that policy say Grace?


Grace: It requires…So it’s not to be confused with a non-compete. You can work more than one place. You just have to tell us about it, and we get to decide if you’re allowed to work both jobs. So if you want to work for us and a competitor, we might say, “No.” But if you want to work for us and waitress tables on the weekends or wait tables or bartend, we might say yes. We might say, “Okay, it doesn’t really matter to me if you want to go earn extra money. So we approve, deny outside employment. Here, most situations that I’ve touched regarding OnlyFans, it has not been disclosed and I’m sure that we all can put together why this is not the same as, “I’m bartending on the weekends.” 


Paul: So I’m going to differentiate a little bit here. If this person doesn’t have QR codes and I saw this on Reddit, they took a picture of the back of this lady’s SUV. She’s picking her kids up at school. She has a pretty salacious handle for her OnlyFans page, and it’s got a couple of things on there. All the decals – 


Grace: Like Playboy bunny ears? 


Paul: Yeah, some stuff like that, and then it’s got the QR code and the comment was, “Yeah, this is great for the kid when they get out of the car and go in.” So okay, that’s not the case. That’s not the one that I’m thinking about. Let’s just – 


Grace: It’s just a plain square?


Paul: No, there’s nothing.


Grace: Nothing. Okay.


Paul: So that’s why I want to differentiate. You discover that this person is on OnlyFans, but you just find it. First of all, what are you doing out there looking at OnlyFans? Remember the call ins where, “We found out that one of our employees was a stripper?” 


Grace: Oh, right.


Paul: And we’d be like, “How do you know?” And it’d be like, “Well, a bunch of our employees were in there and they saw her,” and they were like, “So you’re going to fire everybody?” 


Grace: Yeah. 


Paul: Yeah. So you don’t just kind of stumble across it. This person has actually attempted to kind of keep it quiet. They don’t want to mix that with their job. Then if it’s not impacting you, then I have a little bit about, “What do you care?” I have a little bit of that going on. Now, I think you could give me other examples that if I discovered I might actually care. It might hit my moral, that little moral code that is instilled in me, and I might actually be offended by it. So I just want for anybody who’s listening, if you’re offended that someone’s on OnlyFans, I’m not judging you for that at all. At all. If it offends you and it’s not something that you want in your life? You just don’t want to be a part of it in any way, shape or form/ I do understand that point of view. 


Grace: It’s a great and it’s a small bridge to if you’re going to deny it on your moonlighting policy? Think about the fitness influencers. So let’s pretend you have a female OnlyFans page and you have a male bodybuilder fitness influencer, they’re both potentially taking their shirts off on the Internet. 


Paul: They’re both potentially making money from that, from what they’re doing. Yeah.


Grace: And if you’re approving one and denying the other, I think that’s where you can get into some problems with equal application of your policy are really justifying why you made that decision. So you’d have to be careful if you’re relying on that, but it is there. If you have everybody disclose every time anything that they’re doing outside of work for money, lemonade stand to bartending. [laughing]


Paul: [laughing] “We discovered you were working your daughter’s lemonade stand this week and didn’t tell us. You’re fired.” So there’s limitations to what it is that you can kind of apply that broad policy to. I still want to continue to recognize that, I think in most small businesses, in small towns and even medium sized towns, you just really care about the reputation of your business and the reputation of the people that work for you matters. We get this call: “So-and-so, one of our employees, just got picked up for shoplifting and she was actually still wearing her uniform. She was still wearing her scrubs with our name on it. What can we do here?” And we immediately reply, “You can let that employee go. You can suspend them. You can do it.” We have a lot of latitude when it comes to those sorts of things. 


Grace: We’ve had examples of off duty employees who get into a bar fight, but it happens to be with a patient or their family. So that is that link back to your business needs. We have another policy that potentially comes into play here too, which is the non solicitation of patients.


Paul: Oh! I like it!


Grace: And there is an argument to be made with OnlyFans that if there is any patient overlap at all or customer overlap for those who don’t see patients, that that would be grounds for dismissal. Again, you’d have to do the analysis of is this any different from somebody who sells Mary Kay makeup on the side or who has the gym that they’re trying to be a personal trainer on the side? Arguably it is, if there’s more of a relationship there, but in some cases it may not be just depending on the circumstances. So it’s very situation to situation with those. 


Paul: So this is where I land on this. CEDR’s a different business. What The Hell Just Happened is a different business. I don’t have customers walking in my door. I don’t have customers coming in and trusting me and giving me health information. I don’t have any of that stuff going on. So for me, I can say for the most part, I kind of don’t care what you do on your own time to a great degree. So for me, this does not impact me that much. If I’m a medical practice or any kind of a business where I have an employee who has her SUV parked out in the parking lot, who has all these decals on it, and she’s got her QR code sitting on her water bottle, as you described. She’s got these things that are laying around that someone can lead back to, starting with that billboard on the back of that SUV sitting out in my parking lot? I’m not going to be okay with that. I’m just not. 


Grace: A lot of our members aren’t, and we’ve supported through various terminations for OnlyFans situations. In a couple of other instances, we’ve worked through it with the person just depending on – 


Paul: I’m not telling you, “You can’t do this as an employee. I’m saying you can’t do that and work here.” That’s a very, very important distinction. I’m not trying to make you change. I’m just saying I’ve got some standards here that I have to meet, and some of the standards are set by my customers, by my patients, and I don’t have a choice. I have to adhere to that. We had a guy, I remember this, this was 12 years ago. I think it was my first call on this subject, which they discovered that a new, fairly new employee was a semi-famous stripper and this guy’s the deacon in his church. They’re very much involved in their community. They’re very much a family practice and family oriented and they were just mortified by it. I got to tell you, he wasn’t that judgmental of her. He was just upset about what it was doing to the practice because that’s the way he found out. Someone came to him and said, “I don’t know if you know or not, but this is what this person’s doing.” Then they look into it further and then find out that she’s kind of semi-famous and she travels around and and the guidance I gave him is, “That’s not a protected status and if we want to let this person go, we can doc.” Ultimately they decided to make that decision and he did it in a very nice and humane way they possibly could. 


Grace: This is such a What The Hell Just Happened topic because if you had said to Paul 12 years ago with the semi-famous stripper that this was going to be happening widespread –


Paul: On the internet. 


Grace: On the internet –


Paul: Your employees.


Grace: In multiple, different practices and sometimes they’re making more from this side thing than they’re making with you? It’s just not an issue we ever would have anticipated back then, but we’re applying that same logic. Carrying it through. 


Paul: Yeah. We’re applying HR employment law knowledge to that human side, trying to solve this issue and this really is one of those case by case kind of things. I think you used this in our article the other day? I recall we work with a multi a big practice down in Atlanta and they had incense burning and tie dyes, Grateful Dead memorabilia on the walls. The practice spoke to that and it was okay for the employees to have tattoos and all that involved. That was just a completely different atmosphere than, say, the doctor in Boston who has to charge $65,000 per patient, do restorative surgery on people and do all those things. Context matters.


Grace: Context. Oh, my goodness, Paul. I love that you have brought that up. There are businesses who are having difficulty hiring right now and retaining great talent right now and who have cultures that are maybe if you have a practice in Las Vegas and you’re like, ‘Well, we’d have trouble finding somebody without an OnlyFans page.” We’ve had people tell us that about tattoos. That’s really evolved over time where it was very common to have no tattoos, never a tattoo and then as I’ve written policies over the past nine years or so, that has loosened up a lot. It’s mainly just say, “How about they don’t include anything offensive on them and we’re good with it.” It will be very interesting to see what happens with this going forward and there’s some middle ground we’ve talked about, you know, is this fair? And what can you can’t do? And then can you terminate? It could be, “Hey, how about just no sticker on the car or the water bottle and make the page harder to find?” There could be some other managerial paths to get through these situations and that’s what our advisors do, is we think about those creative solutions that meet your business needs. It doesn’t have to mean that you are short a person or that you can’t ever hire off the street in Las Vegas or wherever that is. So we will tailor that solution to the person’s workplace culture, to their needs, to what’s happening that day in their office, all rooted in best practice.


Paul: All right. So OnlyFans is happening, guys. This is one of those big trends that we’re seeing come in. Everyone’s trying to do a side gig, trying to make some extra money and support themselves. Okay, so What The Hell Just Happened in HR is that OnlyFans made it into the mainstream and we’re starting to get calls on it. We’ve been getting calls on it. We’re starting to get a lot more calls on it. 


Grace: We have been. Use caution when scanning a QR code. Is that our? [laughing] 


Paul: Yeah. Is that our thing? [laughing] You know, those things lead straight to a web page, right? You know, we just discovered that during COVID, so. Yeah. Okay. All right. Thanks, Grace. That was interesting. 


Grace: Thanks for letting me chat about it.


Voice Over: Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode of What the Hell Just Happened. If you have an HR issue, question, or just want to add a comment about something Paul said, record it on your phone and send it to podcast@wthjusthappened.com. We might even ask if we can play it on the show. Don’t forget to Like and Subscribe and join us again next week.


Oct 9, 2023

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance based on applicable local, state and/or federal U.S. employment law that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

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