Termination Due to Off-Duty Conduct
The vulgar, off-duty conduct of Hydro One employee, Shawn Simoes, has brought concern for many employees. After all, it’s not often that an employee is terminated by their employer for their actions outside of work. Even less likely, that they are identified and such behaviour is made public. Unfortunately, that was the case for Mr. Simoes. Many who viewed the video with the City News reporter have raised a number of questions. Primarily, does his conduct warrant a termination for cause? And to what extent can an employer discipline the employee for their off-duty conduct?
Factors Considered by the Courts
In Ontario, a termination for cause holds a high threshold to prove. Factors considered by the courts include whether or not the conduct:
1. Harms the company’s reputation or product;
2. Renders the employee incapable of performing his or her duties satisfactorily;
3. Makes other employees reluctant to work with him or her;
4. Is a serious breach of the Canadian Criminal Code; or
5. Makes it difficult for the company to properly manage its services or direct its
Bearing these factors in mind, employees should be watchful of what they say, orally and in writing. Be mindful that everyone is watching, and with social media outlets, everything you write and/or post is made available to just about everyone.
Remain Consistent with Your Office Policy
Employers beware of what you classify as just cause. The merits of a case are judged on a case-by-case basis. Remember to remain consistent with your office policy on disciplining employees for off-duty conduct, as maintaining this strategy will drastically improve your chances of your case being a success. That being said, it is best to leave your employment matters to the experts