Employees' off-duty conduct is their own business – until it affects your business.  But where should the line be drawn?  When should an employer attempt to regulate employees' off-duty conduct?  Can an employer regulate off-duty conduct without running afoul of employment laws?  

Employees' outside relationships, political activism, use of social media, drug and alcohol use, and other off-duty behaviors can present vexing questions for legal and human resources professionals.  For example:

  • Does an employer have cause to be concerned if  co-workers are engaged in a romantic or sexual relationship outside of work?  If so, can an employer take action against the employees?
  • If an employee espouses radical political views, can the employer fire the employee?  What if the employee simply supports a candidate or political cause that the employer opposes?
  • Can employers take action against employees who use social media such as Facebook or Twitter to complain about their boss or protest their employer’s policies?
  • Can employers refuse to employ workers who use tobacco?  What about an employee who is suspected of being an alcoholic? 
  • Can an employer terminate an employee who has been arrested for a crime?  What if the employee was convicted? 
  • Can an employer take action against an employee for expressing controversial religious opinions outside the workplace?