Termination is a Risky Business.
There was a great deal of social media coverage surrounding the firing of a Hydro One employee who contributed to the sexist heckling of a news reporter, in the spring of 2015. Many commentaries at the time included speculation as to whether or not the termination of this employee would stand.
Since the employee was represented by a union, the termination was grieved and it went to an arbitration hearing. In this case, the arbitrator made the decision to re-instate the former employee back into employment with Hydro One.
It is interesting to note the slightly different perspectives that each media venue provides; for example, watch the following coverage provided by Global News.
The coverage includes the perspective of a union spokesperson providing their insight as to what the arbitrator took into consideration when making the determination for reinstatement. It seems that the former employee’s genuine remorse and public apologies for his conduct were factors that had some influence on the resolution to this situation. Having said that, we are not given information as to what the employer presented at this hearing, nor are we given information as to all of the facts that the arbitrator had to consider.
In a case such as this, the arbitrator’s decision is final.
What remains to be seen is how this decision will influence other cases in the future regarding the termination of an employee due to their own ‘off-duty’ conduct.
- Do you think employers in the future will terminate employees for similar off-duty conduct if there is a risk of reinstatement?
- Is the risk worth it in order to ‘send a message’ about acceptable social conduct?
- Do you agree with the arbitrator’s decision in this situation? Why? Why not?
- From a Human Resources perspective, what types of policies need to be defined clearly in the workplace about employee conduct?
- Identify two or three different media perspectives through internet links for this case. What are the differences in the messages from each media outlet?