The story of one Ontario man has been reported widely on
mainstream and social media in recent weeks. The man was involved
in gendered vulgarities hurled at a female news reporter outside
the stadium after attending a professional soccer match. His
employer, an Ontario utility company, terminated him the day after
the story broke.
Shortly after the termination, the National Post conducted an
interview with the company's CEO. It provides interesting
insight into the company's decision-making process in assessing
how to deal with the employee. And while this story hasn't
reached its conclusion yet (it is unclear if the former employee is
unionized, or if he has grieved the termination), it is interesting
that the utility company framed the termination as being based on a
breach of "core values" outlined in an employee code of
conduct which included provisions for off-duty behaviour. The
company's CEO explicitly stated, "This is not a
women's issue. This is an issue that transcends gender as far
as I'm concerned. It was bad behaviour. In fact, it was
reprehensible behaviour. We don't want it in the
In Saskatchewan and Ontario (among other provinces), workplace
harassment is prohibited under occupational health and safety
legislation. It will be interesting to see how stories like this
play out in the future. Could this type of behaviour form a new
type of cause for termination? Will workers in public roles (for
example, news reporters) be able to claim protection from this type
of behaviour under their provincial OH&S regime? If so, how
will these types of protection work in practice?
Viral news stories can be fleeting. But stories like this one
could have long-term implications on the field of labour and
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