Clay Adams | May 14th, 2015
What you do in your own time is your own business.
Or is it?
How many times have you heard that as long as what you do outside of work is not in conflict with your employer, then you should be free to do what you want, where you want? Well, sorry to disappoint all you free loving, dope-smoking, politically-active weekenders, but the bar has been moved – and you may not like where it is going.
The line between personal and professional became substantially blurred this past week when an Ontario Hydro One employee lost his job after heckling a City TV reporter with an expletive on live television .
Shawn Simoes was one of several Toronto FC fans (which immediately suggests poor judgement anyway) who video bombed her live hit with references to the FHRITP. Now for those of you unaware of what this is – and, to be honest, it wasn’t high on my radar until the story broke – FHRITP stands for (expletive suggested warning here!) “F*** Her Right In The P****”.
Vulgar, disgusting and childish is the only way to describe such a comment, and coming from me – someone who is described as crass and politically incorrect at the best of times – that is something.
Simoes, possibly caught up in the adrenalin of being around friends and/or a few Sleemans to boost his courage, made two fatal mistakes. Not only did he think such a comment on live TV would make him some kind of hero, he forgot that he was on live TV. Yes, thousands or more would be watching. What’s more, the reporter and her network took deliberate steps to shame him and others who support the FHRITP movement. Bravo Shauna and bravo to those around the world who stood by her.
It didn’t take long for Hydro One to realize Simoes was an employee. Social media went to great lengths to identify him and demand action. It was vigilantism, social media style. Now why others in Shauna Hunt’s story seem to have escaped the spotlight is a mystery (Simoes met the lust for blood I suppose) but Hydro One’s CEO was quick and unequivocal – Simoes’ behaviour was not in keeping with the company’s code of conduct.
CEO Carmine Marcello, no doubt recognizing a great PR opportunity, even explained in detail publicly why the firing occurred and that it was not in keeping with the company’s core values.
So what does this mean for the rest of us? Well, be even more careful about what you say and do outside the work environment. That is not a threat. VCH has a Standards of Conduct policy and a Respectful Workplace & Human Rights Policy . These clearly state what is acceptable behaviour in the workplace. But to what extent should your actions outside work impact your ability to keep your job?
The Standards of Conduct policy states “Activities outside of work must not impact on a staff member’s ability to perform his/her job during working hours.” Would being an ass on live TV do that? It could be argued – as Hydro One did – that behaviours impact a company’s image and yet Simoes did not say who he worked for and identified his employer in any way. If anyone had cause to be upset, it would be Toronto FC who he and other disrespectful idiots clearly showed allegiance to. Having said that, being a TFC fan is a punishment in itself…but I digress.
Live TV bombing is irritating at the best of times. It has happened to me and you can do little except ignore it. As a guy, nobody ever yelled FHRITP at me although I’ve had my share of expletives thrown at me as a media spokesperson. That Shauna Hunt pushed back on these goons is admirable. Sadly, when the alleged creator of this bizarre and offensive slur openly defends it and even accuses the reporter of fabricating the situation, you have to wonder what the heck is wrong with the world.
What do you think?
So what do you think? Is boorish, rude and disrespectful behaviour outside of work grounds for reprimand or even dismissal?