In some unfortunate cases, Canadians need to work two jobs in order to make ends meet. Well, it seems that sometimes taking a second job may not be a good idea. The British Columbia Provincial Court recently found that an employer could terminate an employee for just cause because that employee had a second job and refused to quit when she was asked.
Why? Even though the employee had other second jobs before she was promoted to bank supervisor (unrelated jobs like selling party candles), her job as supervisor involved indirect sales responsibilities, where she was expected to suggest certain services and refer the customer to the appropriate person in the branch.
Her second job as real estate agent put her in potential conflict of interest situations and in potential competition with the bank, given that selling real estate was directly related to what the bank did, that is, lending money to clients so they could buy real estate. In her capacity as real estate agent, the employee had the opportunity to solicit bank customers, use confidential information for her benefit and use the bank premises for her real estate work.
It must be said that the employee’s real estate agency business was brought to the attention of the employer because she was giving out real estate business cards right in the bank.
The court found that, given the nature of its business, the employer’s company guidelines and rules regarding conflicts of interests and competition were reasonable. The employer was able to demonstrate that the rules were in place, communicated to the employee, and consistently enforced. The employer’s request to stop the real estate business was also clearly communicated and reasonable.
What’s more, the employee’s refusal to halt her outside activities constituted disobedience with respect to work rules and the employer’s reasonable and lawful order to comply with company guidelines about outside employment. Refusing to accept her employer’s reasonable construction of its own rules was inconsistent with the fulfilment of the express terms of her own contract of employment.
As a result, the court dismissed the employee’s action against the employer.
So this is good news for employers. Even though it is understandable for employees to need or want second jobs, when those jobs conflict with the employer’s reasonable company rules, such as conflict of interest rules, the employer has the right to request that the employee quit that job. Of course, it is necessary to have evidence of the company rules, to clearly communicate the rules, and to document the employee’s disobedience.
What do you think? Was it harsh for the court to dismiss the employee’s complaint?
Would the answer change if you knew that the employee told the bank before she was promoted that she was taking real estate courses so she could take part in her family’s real estate development business? What about if you knew that the employee only worked on real estate during the weekends?
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor