Is it really that way, or maybe your employer thinks differently? An article written in the Globe and Mail by Danile Lublin, Toronto Employment Lawyer, covers situations in which employees can be disciplined for what they do when away from work, and when employers believe that off-duty behavior poses a problem to their own interests.
- Criminal behavior unrelated to the workplace but which creates negative publicity and brings company’s reputation into disrepute, can amount to cause for dismissal.
- Employees who use BlackBerrys, iPhones or tablets distributed by their companies to engage in any form of inappropriate conduct away from work may have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of those devices. Therefore, employers could, in some cases, conduct random searches of the devices and impose discipline based on what they find.
- Personal blog postings or Tweets made on employees’ own time could possibly amount to cause for dismissal if its connection to the workplace was obvious and any member of the public could view it.
- Pictures or postings on Facebook and YouTube are fair game for employers where indiscriminate content impacts, or potentially impacts, the company’s reputation, trade secrets or its competitive advantage.
- When another employee’s safety is threatened as a result of what occurs away from work, employers may even have an obligation to intervene under health and safety laws.
- In some cases, even an employee’s poor choice of friends could justify dismissal if found that the potential for harm was great enough.
What advice can employees glean from these examples?
- Conduct that occurs away from the workplace is not immune from discipline simply because it occurs away from work, but how that conduct impacts or potentially impacts an employer’s legitimate business or social interests.
- Where there is a policy in the workplace that permits employers to discipline or discharge employee for what occurs away from work, employers will be more likely to justify their decision to do so.
- Where off-duty conduct has no relationship to what happens at work, employers have no right to get involved.