Just because members of the public call for the firing of an
employee for yelling sexual taunts at a TV reporter at a sports
match, does not mean that the firing is legally justified, a recent
A hydro employee fired in May for hurling obscenities at a TV
reporter has been rehired, according to a Canadian Press story.
The employee, an assistant network management engineer with
Hydro One, was fired in connection with the incident at a Toronto
FC game. A media firestorm ensured, with many Internet
commentators and others calling for his firing. Hydro One did
dismiss him, citing violations of its employee code of conduct.
It is not clear whether an arbitrator ordered Hydro One to
reinstate the employee, or whether Hydro One did so as part of a
The case raises the thorny issue of when employees can be
disciplined or fired for off-duty conduct. At the very least,
the employee's rehiring shows that what may seem obvious to
members of the public – that vulgar, offensive and/or
harassing off-duty conduct justifies firing – may not always
be legally correct.
The Canadian Press story, reported on The Globe and Mail
Website, can be found here.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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