What did you say?

Tags: ,

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.

Blurred lines

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.

Karma

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.

VCH policies

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?

About the Author

Clay Adams
email iconClay.Adams@vch.ca  

Clay Adams is vice president of Communications and Public Affairs and has extensive experience in strategic communications and planning, media relations, issues management and stakeholder communications in Australia and Canada. Clay writes on communication related topics with a wry humorous style and has an interest in discussion about how we want to be understood by others. View all the posts by Clay.

A Beginners Guide to Disqus

Disqus is a great platform for adding comments to blogs and articles. For the most part it's straightforward and easy to use, but at first the amount of options can be daunting and intimidating. Luckily for us, once past the initial process, commenting is really made easy.

This guide is to help users understand the user interface of Disqus in order to use it in the most effective way for their needs.

Note: You can write the comment at any time during the process, before, after, or during.

  • 1. Your first click:


  • 2. Choose your account, or dont:


  • 2. a) Facebook example:


  • 2. b) Guest example:



  • 3. Submit your post:



  • 4. You're done, that's it!

    All comments are moderated, so if your comment doesn't appear right away it's because it is awaiting moderation from administrators.

2 comments on “What did you say?

  • Maria says:

    Way to wade into the controversy Clay. Like so many issues there is a balance that needs to be struck, particularly in light of the many highly contentious policy and legislative agendas of our current leaders and their parties.

    At the core the matter is where the bar should rightly be put for censorship and censure for the content of our communication/opinions (I don’t believe that there is an allegation in this instance of a crime being committed such as threatening or assault which would be a different issue altogether).

    This individual’s comments were clearly boorish, obnoxious, inappropriate.. in my opinion, and have no positive political value (although I am sure that there are those who disagree with me and I make no claim to be the universal arbiter of boorish/obnoxious.. I am at best a part time practitioner thereof).

    We SHOULD be in the middle of a heated public discourse complete with protest and lobbying and all manner of other methods (within the bounds of the law) on exactly this issue of censorship and censure. The federal government is discussing legislation to silence those who are calling for a boycott of Israel (which include such dangerous entities as the United Church of Canada and the Quakers http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ottawa-cites-hate-crime-laws-when-asked-about-its-zero-tolerance-for-israel-boycotters-1.3067497), clearly the government feels that this is so far beyond the pale that it must be silenced. I would rather have to deal with the occasional drunken lout than go down the road to silence.

    I think the ability to make unpopular statements becomes essential when dealing with governments. VCH has a policy that I can’t identify myself as representing VCH if I make statements that show VCH in a poor light (fair enough) however, I must have the ability to make those comments as a private citizen… even if I work for a public body. Otherwise you silence the whole of the public service… and if we take it further anyone working for anyone who says/does anything the employing entity doesn’t like is effectively muzzled….. while I am sure there are those for whom that is an ideal state of affairs, I believe that it is a state that free citizens the world over must fight against.

    Just my opinion, which I believe I have a right to speak, without fear of losing my job.

    • Jem says:

      I agree completely with Maria.. We have a right to express ourselves and have freedom of speech. It is a very different story if we are on site working and wearing our VCH identification or at a community event sponsored by the VCH.
      How one conducts ones self is all based on good manners, respect and a having gained some life skills from our time on this planet.
      ” If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated.

Email addresses will not be made public.

You may comment anonymously, but a valid VCH email address is required to verify that you are an employee.

Only comments attributed to a valid VCH.ca or providencehealth.bc.ca email address will be published.

Quality Safety & Patient Care.

This is the place for discussion, debate and collaboration on issues and ideas that advance engagement with VCH’s strategic True North goals and objectives. It is not just for executives, but the tone of this stream is tailored to those serving in a leadership role or those who have interest in the “why” behind organizational priorities.

Recognizing Excellence & Success

This is the place for discussion, debate and collaboration on issues and ideas that advance engagement with VCH’s strategic True North goals and objectives. It is not just for executives, but the tone of this stream is tailored to those serving in a leadership role or those who have interest in the “why” behind organizational priorities.

Photos & Fun

This is the place for discussion, debate and collaboration on issues and ideas that advance engagement with VCH’s strategic True North goals and objectives. It is not just for executives, but the tone of this stream is tailored to those serving in a leadership role or those who have interest in the “why” behind organizational priorities.