UPDATE: The individual who was terminated from his position at Hydro One as a result of this incident was rehired in November 2015 following an arbitration process. (Source: Toronto Star)
CityTV reporter Shauna Hunt (@shaunacitynews) was frustrated by a group of men who interrupted her TV broadcast after a Toronto FC soccer game with an infamous vulgar expression and decided to confront the group on camera. The men remained defiant, continued to use sexually charged language, and did not apologize for their behaviour.
As a result, at least one of the men has been terminated from their job for their actions at the sporting event.
After one of the men was identified as working for Hydro One through social media (although he was not wearing any company apparel nor did he mention Hydro One during the interview), the utility announced that he was terminated for not complying with their Code of Business Conduct. In addition, once the man's name was made public it was also advertised that his salary was over $106K since he is listed on Ontario's Sunshine List (which shares salary information for anyone who works for any Ontario government agency earning at least $100K per year).
Reaction on social media was swift and intense, with most expressing disgust at the men's behaviour and supporting calls to press criminal charges for the sexual harassment. Even Premier Kathleen Wynne tweeted her support for Ms. Hunt and why the men's behaviour further justifies the government's recent #ItsNeverOkay campaign.
Controversial HR questions:
The fact that one of the men was fired from his job for actions outside of the workplace raises a number of difficult HR questions.:
You may also want to see our 2014 blog "Employees Behaving Badly Outside of Work" (including NFL player Ray Rice) or our 2013 blog on the TV Big Brother Contestants who were terminated from their real-life jobs for behaviour on the TV show.
What is an employer to do?
If an employer becomes aware of an employee's behaviour outside of the workplace that is criminal (i.e. arrested for a DUI, possession of child pornography, domestic violence) or deemed "immoral" by the employer (i.e. affiliation with a controversial organization, issuing vulgarities at a news reporter at a soccer game), they may wish to remove that person from the organization, even if the employee's actions took place exclusively outside of the workplace.
The question becomes whether or not they can terminate “for cause” and not have to pay out the appropriate termination pay and/or severance.
Some things for an employer to consider:
Want to learn more about terminating employees?
Clear Path has an informative, one-hour webinar that helps address some of the issues involved in terminating an employee and suggestions on how to make the process as positive as possible for your organization and the individual being terminted.
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