Employees Behaving Badly

By Sarah Mcgraw

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Unless you are living comfortably under a rock, you were probably captivated by the recent controversy surrounding the infamous CityNews segment filmed at the Toronto FC game on May 10th.  The phrase, which no longer requires an introduction, set off CityNews anchor Shawn Hunt, and what followed was an embarrassing justification of moral and social values from several nearby fans. 

Next came the social media explosion.  The YouTube video has been shared nearly 5 million times and multiple news networks were still talking about the incident days later.  But it didn’t stop there.  The same day the clip showed up in nearly everyone’s social media feed, HydroOne announced they were terminating the employment of one of the men involved as a result of his questionable behaviour.

No one was terribly surprised by the news, but there were strong opinions on both sides of the argument about whether or not the former HydroOne employee should have been held accountable for his actions outside of the workplace.  The justification lies somewhere in the small print of his employment contract, but more importantly, the incident opened up a new conversation, which until now, was somewhat of a non-issue.

Across the country, a similar train wreck was taking place on a much larger scale.  Twenty-six-year-old sociology student, Deborah Drever, landed the job of a lifetime.  A surprise landslide NDP win in Alberta’s provincial election placed her in the role as Calgary-Bow’s MLA earning upwards of $100,000 per year.  Immediately opposing voters began dredging up her very accessible social media footprint and questioning her credibility.  Several days later, she posted an overtly homophobic image on Instagram and was promptly suspended by the NDP.

Do we have an obligation to our employers to conduct ourselves a certain way in our spare time?  Does it matter more if we work in the public sector?  What about our online presence?  Have employers overstepped their influence in our private lives?  It’s an interesting conversation to say the least.  Every employer has their own policies in place, but a little common sense goes a long way regardless of your profession.

The truth is, being a “professional” is no longer limited to 9-5.  Social media has changed the way perceive ourselves and others.  In most cases, you are certainly within your rights to express yourself as you choose in public or through your Facebook and Instagram accounts.  But what is more important to you– the freedom to share content or opinions, or the perception you are giving co-workers or potential employers? If you need to think twice if something is appropriate to say or do in public or online, it might not be.

Sarah Mcgraw is a writer and freelancer bloggers. She loves to write topics related to career to help employers & business professionals lead themselves and others towards greater career success.


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