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?