Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, of Hayden, Idaho, discovered that off-duty indiscretion can lead to unemployment. While flying on a personal trip, Mr. Hundley slapped the toddler of another passenger and apparently also uttered obscenities and epithets because the child was crying. Mr. Hundley was an executive with an aerospace and defense company.
Many employers include in their employee handbooks a paragraph on off-duty conduct. An off-duty conduct policy warns employees that bad behavior outside of work may lead to loss of employment. Clearly, an off-duty DUI offense for someone who drives for a living has a direct impact on employment. Retaining the employee may increase the company’s insurance rates and expose it to liability if the employee was to injure someone while driving for work. However, even actions unrelated to a person’s job may have dire consequences if they reflect poorly on the employer. In an at-will employment environment where the employer can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all, bad behavior away from work is a perfectly good reason to fire somebody.
When you are out in public away from the office or workplace, it is good to keep in mind that you still represent your employer. Before engaging in questionable activity, ask yourself, “Is it worth my job?”