Experts weigh-in on the CBC’s firing of Jian Ghomeshi over his personal life
You may have heard about the recent firing of Jian Ghomeshi, the former host of CBC Radio’s popular Q show.
He is suing CBC for 50 million dollars for ‘breach of confidence and bad faith’ for what he calls interference into his ‘private life.’ More specifically, he believes he was fired for what is described as ‘rough play’ in the bedroom. The sexual details are enough to pique anyone’s interest (crack of the whip sound!), but Ghomeshi is not taking this lying down (I can’t help myself… sorry!) He took to Facebook on Sunday to post a message about the injustice he feels was brought upon him.
According to Ghomeshi, everything he has ever done in the bedroom with someone else was purely consensual. He claims this is all a smear campaign of sexual misconduct by a ‘jilted ex-girlfriend and freelance writer’ and that from the beginning the CBC was well aware of these issues early on. For the CBC’s part, they have not commented, other than to say that recent revelations came to their attention forcing them to make this difficult decision.
This story raises lots of questions about the ability of an employer to fire someone for what they do outside of working hours. Can an employer tell you what you can and cannot do when you’re not in the office? Ghomeshi believes no and has been quoted saying ‘That is my personal life. And no one, and certainly no employer, should have dominion over what people do consensually in their private life.’
So who is right? Well in the case of Ghomeshi all the facts have yet to be revealed, but based other incidents of similar nature, we can see where this case is heading. It is no secret that employers are more than ever worried about protecting their brand. Remember the Ray Rice incident that dominated U.S. networks for days? The NFL is still reeling.
The simple fact is that privacy is a thing of the past. What you do outside of work reflects on your professional life. Allegations don’t have to be as serious as sexual misconduct before an employer has second thoughts about your gainful employment. We all know that social media has messed up many a career and gotten a number of people into hot water with their employer. This recent story just surfaced about a man whose Facebook post got him fired.
According to Howard Levitt, a senior partner of Levitt & Grosman LLP employment and labour lawyers, he believes that Ghomeshi has no case. He states ‘This is really an object lesson in the fact that employees have no real privacy rights and should operate on the basis that all of their actions, wherever they occur, could be discovered by employers and, worse, become embarrassing fodder for the Twittersphere and op-ed pages’.
Employees have already been let go for actions outside of working hours such as bad-mouthing the boss, not keeping work secrets confidential, or representing the company poorly (one druken stupor at an after-hours staff party can lead to all of them at once!) These misgivings unfortunately form a blatant reality for employees – there is no such thing as private time versus work time. Whether we like it or not, what you do in your personal life does have consequences for your employer. Do you agree?