Is an employee liable for misconduct off the job?
When Maintenance Foreman Pete Schifflin got word that Grade II Welder Joe Fallon had been convicted of shoplifting at a local department store, he wasn’t surprised. Fallon was a slippery character in Schifflin’s opinion and not to be trusted.
Employed by a public utility, a high visibility enterprise, the foreman wasn’t sure what if anything to do in response. Wrestling with the problem, he decided to seek his boss’ advice.
Question : In Schifflin’s position, what if anything, would you do?
Halpern’s response: “Convicted, you say, not just arrested?” Plant Engineer Jack Halpern asked when Schifflin brought him the news.
“Right. He’s already been judged guilty and confessed to the crime.”
Halpern said thoughtfully, “I think we have no choice but to fire him. For one thing, this is a relatively small town. The story’s bound to circulate. It would be extremely poor public and customer relations for the word to spread that a person convicted of theft is in our employ. Also, having a known thief on the payroll would put other employees at risk. What’s more, as you point out, the fact that we deal with the public makes maintaining a good image doubly important. Finally, making an example of Fallon will hammer the message home to the rest of our people how management feels about dishonesty.”