Occupy Unemployment Line

Earlier this week CBC posted an article titled, “Occupy supporter said he was fired”.   Occupy – being a global protest that aims to raise awareness on social and economic inequality.  If you’re wondering about the legality of the dismissal, read on…you might be surprised with the answer.
In this case, the employee was a barista at Sodexo, and was allegedly told via email:

You have been a wonderful contribution to the Sodexo team unfortunately due to your involvement in Occupy Calgary we do have to let you go.

Though he was present at the protest, the employee was curious as to how his employer found out.  Would it have mattered if Sodexo was misinformed?
It’s important to distinguish between what is legal and what is moral in circumstances like these.  Although Canadian employment law often affords employees the benefit of the doubt, employers still maintain the right to conduct business as they see fit, provided that they do so without discriminating.  When it comes to freedom of expression, employers can make “immoral” dismissals provided:

  • They give appropriate notice;
  • Provide pay in lieu of notice;
  • Or provide valid rationale to substantiate a dismissal for cause, which would forfeit the prior entitlements.

Picture and video phones, instant messaging, social media – it’s easier than ever for your employer to get a lead on your activity off the clock.  Does this accountability make us more responsible individuals, or bind our expressions to our employer’s discretion?