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High school office assistant by day, porn video star by night – should there be ramifications?

Image: theglobeandmail.com

Image: theglobeandmail.com

A Quebec school board has suspended a high school office assistant with pay after discovering she also happened to be a porn video star on the side. How did the school board find out about her extra-curricular activity? A student found out her secret and posted it on Facebook, and almost instantly, she was a high school celebrity.

She is waiting to hear what will happen next, and afraid of losing her job.

What should happen to her?

Should she be terminated because of her off-duty activities? Is it appropriate for the assistant and member of the school commission to be penalized by the school board for something she did in her private life? Could she be disciplined simply because the school board is of the view that it is morally wrong do engage in this kind of business?

The last time I checked, there were 396 comments about the article reporting on this situation. Some view the employee’s out of school activities as her own business and concerning her private life, but others see that a dirty video distributed on the Internet is not private at all and could influence the employee’s ability and credibility when performing her job.

Past cases have confirmed that employee’s off-duty conduct can harm a company’s reputation and justify discipline up to and including termination with cause. The law does recognize that an employee has a privacy interest in his or her off-duty conduct, but this must be weighed against the employer’s reputational interest.

For example, we have seen that courts have recently upheld terminations where the employee engaged in off-duty blogging or posting on Facebook that was harmful to the employer’s reputation. That is, employees who use technology to publicly criticize their employer and co-workers could be on the hook for receiving some discipline.

Does participating in pornographic videos that are distributed on the Internet fall in the same category? Does it decrease the office assistant’s credibility such that she can no longer be taken seriously in a school board environment?

What do you think?

Christina Catenacci
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor

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Christina Catenacci

Christina Catenacci, BA, LLB, LLM, was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002 and has since been a member of the Ontario Bar Association. Christina worked as an editor with First Reference between February 2005 and August 2015, working on publications including The Human Resources Advisor (Ontario, Western and Atlantic editions), HRinfodesk discussing topics in Labour and Employment Law. Christina has decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Western Ontario beginning in the fall of 2015. Read more
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One thought on “High school office assistant by day, porn video star by night – should there be ramifications?
  • Steve says:

    I have heard of “moral terpitude” in common law – whereby the act or issue is so egregious that employment of the person cannot continue. Items such as child molestation, murder etc fit the bill – does this?