By now you have probably heard about the individuals who thought it would be “hilarious” and “amazing” to direct an extremely obscene comment at a CityNews reporter covering a TFC game. Their behaviour was undeniably shameful and disgraceful – and the reporter (good on her) called them on it.

But what is truly fascinating about this incident is that the fallout didn’t stop there. The video immediately went viral, and a number of private citizens quickly mined Facebook and LinkedIn to find the offenders’ names and employers. This information was then shared on Twitter – tagging the employers’ corporate accounts – with demands that the companies take action. The response was swift. According to a Globe and Mail article, “with pressure mounting, both companies released statements before the end of the business day” and one of the offenders was immediately terminated from his employment. 1

There is a lesson here for all of us – even if you never intentionally set out to publicly make a fool of yourself. If we had any lingering notion that our private life is somehow separate from our professional life, I think we can let that go now. Most organizations, big and small, have Codes of Conduct that their employees are expected to abide by during employment hours. However, with smart phones and social media, these conduct expectations have moved from 9 – 5 to 24/7. It doesn’t matter where you work – no organization can afford to have their reputation damaged by an employee behaving badly for all to see, regardless of where and when it happens.

Most of us know that employers use social media to check-out a potential employee before making hiring decisions. However, not everyone realizes that when problems arise, police, lawyers and regulatory bodies also use and reference all of the information we so freely put out there. In fact, criminal charges were also pending for these offenders. You can be sure that if any of them were regulated professionals, public outcry would call for the suspension or revocation of their licenses (certificates of registration) as well.

 

1 Ha, T., & Bascaramurty, D. (2015, May 13). Social media bring workplace-harassment rules into play for men who lewdly heckled reporter. Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto-tv-reporter-fights-back-against-obscene-on-the-job-hecklers/article24390881/

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