By Marcia Love
In a time when the Internet makes it next to impossible for people to forget your indiscretions, it’s probably not the wisest idea to actively attempt to perform them on live television.
By now most people have probably heard about the brilliant young man and his buddies who decided to make disgusting remarks to a female newscaster during her broadcast at a Toronto FC game. It was a move that ultimately cost the Toronto engineer his job.
The case brings up the question of how far employers should be allowed to go when it comes to terminating employees for more personal reasons. Some have argued Hydro One had no right to fire the young man for his brilliant display of belligerence.
But I can’t say I blame them for not wanting to be associated with someone who would publicly display such disrespect for women.
This man was a face to the company. He may not have been a well-known employee of Ontario’s largest electricity provider, but there are certainly many people who would know who he worked for. It reflects poorly on a company to have employees like that, and I applaud Hydro One for not tolerating the engineer’s actions.
Whether you like it or not, our employment is a major part of our identity. ‘What do you do?’ is one of the first questions asked when meeting someone new. And on or off the job, you are a representative of your employer – especially in small towns.
When I’m buying groceries, enjoying dinner downtown with friends or even simply picking up my mail, I know people identify me by my place of employment. I’m often introduced as “the newspaper girl.” And if I’ve met you at your place of employment, unless I know you on a more personal level chances are I’m going to identify you by your career as well.
You are a reflection of your employer. That’s just the way it is, and so it’s frequently in the back of my mind that I should behave accordingly – mostly because I’m proud to work for the Maple Creek News, but also because, hey, having a job is kind of a good thing, and I don’t want to do anything to mess that up. Luckily, I’m not one to get wild and crazy anyway.
I’m not saying we have to dress and act professional 100 per cent of the time, but not behaving like an inconsiderate moron goes a long way – and it’s just common courtesy when out in public.
Complaining about your job on social media probably isn’t the wisest idea either. A Seattle barista lost his job after making snarky comments about his boss on his blog – during work hours.
And if you’re going to post that picture on Facebook of the “wicked awesome time” you had at your friend’s party last night, you should probably make sure only your friends can see it. Potential employers aren’t as big a fan of that unless they were there, too.
However, employers should only be able to take action within reason. A case in Georgia several years ago showed there are times when employers overstep their boundaries and overreact. A high school teacher was fired after posting photos of her vacation to Ireland and the Guinness Brewery. The school board decided the images of her with a drink in each hand were inappropriate and let her go. The teacher filed a lawsuit.
Although photos with alcohol may not be the best thing to be posting online, a tame pic such as sampling at a brewery shouldn’t be grounds for dismissal.
But good on Hydro One for making an example out of an unfortunate incident. It would be interesting to see how long it takes the ex-employee to find new employment.
The moral: if you don’t have enough decency or pride to behave appropriately in public for the sake of your own reputation, at least have the intelligence to do so for the sake of your career. Because doing what you love and making money are both nice.