Should your company have a say in your private life?

Hydro One vs Shawn Simoes
Hydro One vs Shawn Simoes

Today it was reported in major newspaper dailies such as The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail that Hydro One is going to  fire one of its employees over a comment he made while off the job.

The incident happened on Sunday at a Toronto FC game where a female CityNews reporter was interrupted during her live reporting.  Some guys were interrupting and shouting “F**k her right in the p*ssy”, a phrase which seems to be fad at some sporting events.

When Shauna Hunt, the CityNews reporter, confronted Shawn Simoes, the Hydro One employee in question, about the derogatory comment, he said that “It is f**king hilarious” despite having not said it himself.

Hydro One spokesperson, Daffyd Roderick, had this to say about the incident, “Hydro One is taking steps to terminate the employee for violating our Code of Conduct”.

So essentially if you are caught saying something stupid, which Shawn Simoes had clearly done, on your own private time, should the company you are working for have the right to fire you?

We have to remember that by firing this employee, they are essentially taking away his livelihood to provide for himself and potentially for those who relied on him for support.

He will most certainly have a hard time getting a new job as his reputation has been tarnished now for an error in judgement that could have resulted from maybe having drank too much during the game.

Perhaps he was making the stupid comment during the raucous heat of the moment. This is not to defend Mr. Simoes because clearly the comment he espoused was wrong, but we have to draw the line where our obligations to our company end otherwise we cannot have a private life at all.

We would perpetually be enslaved to the policies of the company that we are working for. If the company we work for demands such a high standard of behavior from us all of the time, then  every time the company we work for does something wrong then it should be liable to all of its employees as well.

This means when the company does something wrong, whether it be tax evasion, market manipulation, environmental degradation or any operational conduct which may be deem contrary to the spirit of a good corporate citizen then the company should compensate all of its employees with monetary recourse.

This is only fair to its employees if they are expected to not have a private life where obedience to the policies of the company is regulated 24/7. If the above solution is not palatable for the company then the employees of a company should be treated the same way as when the company makes a mistake.

Currently what happens whenever a company makes an error in judgement and gets caught red-handed, they pay a small fine and admit to no wrong doing.

Life goes on and almost everyone is somewhat happy. Now let’s apply the same standard to an employee  as well.

Whenever they make an error in judgement they be given the opportunity to pay a small fine and admit no wrong doing and life goes on.

However, if that employee is caught doing the same thing three times in a row, then we can safely say that it was not an error in judgement and termination should be the corrective action to deal with the matter.

Because if we, as employees, do not take a stand now then our rights will continue to be erode based on unreasonable demands and expectations of utter compliance of our company’s policies during our right to our private lives.