It may not seem fair that your after-work activities could affect your employment, but it’s an implied term of every employment contract that the employee will faithfully perform his or her duties, including refraining from behaviour that negatively impacts, or is likely to negatively impact, the employer’s legitimate business interests.
That means racist or sexist comments made on social media, or video’s of yourself engaging in less than desirable activities, could result in discipline from your employer or even termination. Generally, your actions or comments can negatively impact your employer where:
• The nature of the conduct prevents the employee from continuing to perform his or her duties (e.g., loss of credibility in a position of trust)
• Co-workers are reluctant to continue to work with the employee as a result of learning about his or her conduct
• There is a risk of injury to co-workers or members of the public
• The conduct has harmed or will harm the employer’s reputation or brand
Nowadays, employers often perform social media checks on their employees and it is more common for members of the public to contact your employer if they find your conduct particularly offensive.
Some may remember in 2015 there was an offensive trend of heckling female reporters on air by yelling “F--- her right in the p----.” The trend was known by the acronym FHRITP. Outside a Toronto FC soccer game in 2015, a group was asked by a reporter why they did it and why they thought it was funny. One in the group, Shawn Simoes, stepped forward to defend the conduct. Ultimately, it became known that Simoes worked for Hydro One and the incident became synonymous with Hydro One, which obviously had a negative impact on its reputation. Simoes’ was quickly fired although it's not known whether he was terminated for cause or not. The lesson here is that even though you may be “off the clock”, you still have a duty not to engage in public behaviour that could harm the reputation of your employer.