Off-duty behaviour, at-work reprisals

When do an employee’s actions away from work become a legitimate employer concern?
By Uyen Vu
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/28/2004

When federal public servant Edith Gendron was fired by Heritage Canada for not stepping down as president of a separatist club, she brought to the fore one of the most intractable issues in employee relations.

The issue: to what extent can employers sanction workers for their activities outside of work?

Whether it is political involvement, criminal acts or personal expressions online, workers’ activities off-hours have caused employers no small amount of grief and hand-wringing. Cases vary from employers that punish workers for such things as cursing at a colleague at a local store to governments taking actions against employees who campaign publicly against its policies. (For a look at these cases, click on the "related articles" link at the bottom of this page.)