It happens every day and that day she didn't want to let it slide.
May 14, 2015 6:11 AM   Subscribe

 
Background. (nsfw:language)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:17 AM on May 14, 2015


I'd punish the shit out of whoever did that. That's threatening and abusive. It's absolutely sexual harassment and I don't know how it wouldn't be.

I did see the original live football transfer deadline day of a man getting a dildo shoved at his ear while trying to report on absolutely no news while trying to maintain decorum and it is one of the cherished moments of my life. Everything else in world history was merely prelude to that. Everything since, is postscript. I did not interpret that as sexual harassment so much as an attempt to provoke laughter because nothing happens at these transfer deadline days, it's so boring they stand reporters at all the football stadiums, beside the punters, who are encouraged to be arseholes so people keep watching.

The fuck her in the pussy seems like another level of disgusting.
posted by Swandive at 6:19 AM on May 14, 2015


Terminating someone's employment isn't punishment, of course, unless a third party forces the employer's hand (although firing someone for, say, organizing or union activities could certainly be retaliatory, but that's not quite the same thing).

I mean, if I had employees and I saw one of them drunkenly commit lewd, aggressive verbal assault against a stranger while being filmed doing so, I would pretty much lose all confidence in their judgment and character. Can you imagine how much of a financial liability someone like that could be to a company, leaving completely aside the moral vileness?
posted by clockzero at 6:21 AM on May 14, 2015 [45 favorites]


I think they do it because they're pissed and acting up because there's a camera there. Playacting for the camera as some horrible character that they wouldn't be at home sober, except that they are that character really because they think it's ok to do it.
posted by Swandive at 6:22 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


An interesting off-shoot of the creepy social media era is - what you do off-work has the potential for you to be identified and for your employer to be identified, and for the social sphere to hold your employer to account for employing someone who does or says X thing.

Like many things, I am happy that this asshole got what was coming to him in this instance because I think what he did was deplorable, but I do see the potential for a trend like this to blow back haphazardly.
posted by buoys in the hood at 6:24 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Swandive: "I think they do it because they're pissed and acting up because there's a camera there. Playacting for the camera as some horrible character that they wouldn't be at home sober, except that they are that character really because they think it's ok to do it."

I'm not going to say I haven't acted up with a camera around, but it generally involved fully clothed people performing odd (and generally family-friendly) acts quietly in the background.
posted by Samizdata at 6:26 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought the catch phrase that was supposed to capture the zeitgeist of our dystopian future was "I'd buy that for a dollar". This is so much worse than I expected.
posted by klarck at 6:27 AM on May 14, 2015 [27 favorites]


buoys in the hood: "An interesting off-shoot of the creepy social media era is - what you do off-work has the potential for you to be identified and for your employer to be identified, and for the social sphere to hold your employer to account for employing someone who does or says X thing.

Like many things, I am happy that this asshole got what was coming to him in this instance because I think what he did was deplorable, but I do see the potential for a trend like this to blow back haphazardly.
"

I can see that, but, by and large, if you can resist being a giant asshat in public/online, you shouldn't have too many problems as I see it.
posted by Samizdata at 6:27 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Toronto Star weighs in with two legal experts on the legality of the firing: Does Hydro One have the right to fire TFC fan Shawn Simoes?
Q: Can an employee be fired for an out-of-work action?

AL: “Certainly, an employer can fire an employee whether they’re unionized or non-unionized for off-duty conduct if it reaches a certain threshold.”

HL: “The law is very similar for union members and non-union members in this area. If you do something which damages your employers brand, do something as outrageous as he did and it gets into the media so it is potentially embarrassing to your employer, it’s cause for discharge.”

Q: Does the profession of the dismissed employee matter in a legal context?

DD: “Yes. If he has to work closely with others (especially women), supervise others, or work with customers who may be offended by his conduct, then that can work against him. If he is in a management position, he may be held to a higher standard, since he is responsible for implementing employer policy, including avoiding sexual harassment.”

David Doorey (DD), associate professor at York University, employment law expert Howard Levitt (HL), and labour lawyer Andrew Langille (AL) weigh in.
posted by Fizz at 6:27 AM on May 14, 2015 [37 favorites]


Can you imagine how much of a financial liability someone like that could be to a company, leaving completely aside the moral vileness?

In a perfect world, lots. But -- and I don't mean to defend the guy or anything -- it ain't a perfect world; it's Ontario, and the company is Hydro One, the state-run electricity monopoly, so, you know, not so much in the financial liability department.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:28 AM on May 14, 2015


@Samizdata Oh absolutely, this is them (I believe) thinking they're being humorous in the same way, except their judgement is severely fucked. But I'd have a hard time thinking someone could act like that all the time.

But I'm terribly optimistic.
posted by Swandive at 6:29 AM on May 14, 2015


It would be nice to see some of the men nearby provide these jokers with a smackdown, verbal or otherwise, so that they don't feel so safe pulling shit like this.
posted by caddis at 6:29 AM on May 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Related:

Jon Ronson (The Pyschopath Test) most recent book: So You've Been Publicly Shamed:
For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us – people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job. A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people's faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.
posted by Fizz at 6:31 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


The first guy killed me with how indignant he sounded: "Are you actually filming this?" How dare Shauna Hunt capture his sexism on film!
posted by imnotasquirrel at 6:32 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'd punish the shit out of whoever did that. That's threatening and abusive. It's absolutely sexual harassment and I don't know how it wouldn't be.

Yup.

I did see the original live football transfer deadline day of a man getting a dildo shoved at his ear while trying to report on absolutely no news while trying to maintain decorum and it is one of the cherished moments of my life.

Uhhhh...
posted by sfkiddo at 6:34 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I did see the original live football transfer deadline day of a man getting a dildo shoved at his ear while trying to report on absolutely no news while trying to maintain decorum and it is one of the cherished moments of my life. Everything else in world history was merely prelude to that. Everything since, is postscript. I did not interpret that as sexual harassment so much as an attempt to provoke laughter because nothing happens at these transfer deadline days, it's so boring they stand reporters at all the football stadiums, beside the punters, who are encouraged to be arseholes so people keep watching.

Oh my god. That's so cute. You don't see your attitude as part of the problem.

I mean gosh, can't they just take a joke.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:37 AM on May 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


I'm not in Canada but I would fully expect to get fired if I did something like that. If they had turned immediately and walked away from the camera they might have skated, but doubling down and repeating the gross comments was not a smart decision.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:37 AM on May 14, 2015


Just on the shame as a form of social control, is that really a bad thing? I mean, in all circumstances obviously not. But the shame factor might be what stops me from running around stark naked (it isn't, it's just cold where I live). Or from harassing women, because I'd be ashamed of myself if I did that.

There was a court case in Ireland where a local sports star got done for attacking a young woman, and half his town came to support him (he was found guilty). Surely shame is the right course there? Send them to Coventry.

I do see the argument for people not necessarily being shitty people and instead just making an incredibly bad/unfunny decision at the worst possible time but there should be consequence to decisions, good or bad.

sfkiddo-
I know, I'm messed up, but I didn't interpret that as being sexual, more embarrassment related. I'm probably wrong though. The more I read on MF the more I realise I'm somewhat behind the curve on things.
posted by Swandive at 6:37 AM on May 14, 2015


The first guy killed me with how indignant he sounded: "Are you actually filming this?" How dare Shauna Hunt capture his sexism on film!

That's certainly how I first saw it but then a female friend said, "No, it's not that. It's that he's oblivious that it's sexist because he doesn't understand that it's sexist. He's too stupid. He's surprised that she's filming it because, in his world, it's perfectly normal behavior. There's no reason to film the mundane."
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:37 AM on May 14, 2015 [26 favorites]


We are using shame as a form of social control.

True. For all the times where the public shaming provides a needed good that might not otherwise be obtained, there are many others where the mob doesn't always get its fact right or whatever and people's reputations are destroyed unfairly.
posted by caddis at 6:38 AM on May 14, 2015


The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people's faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.

Which is exactly how all forms of privilege have been enforced for years. Just a short time ago in our history, the REPORTER would've been the one getting fired and shamed for calling this man out.

What am I saying, that could still happen.
posted by mayonnaises at 6:39 AM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]




I don't like the idea of people being fired. It doesn't fit the offense. They should be charged with harassment, and punished accordingly.

We may happen to agree that this behaviour is inappropriate and offensive, but what happens when an employer starts claiming that publically discussing company abuses or draconian policies is "damaging to the brand"? Or supporting the wrong political party is "against their behavioural code."

What you do when not at work is your own business. If you do a stupid and perhaps criminal thing, you should be tried in a public court (legal and/or public opinion). But your employer shouldn't be able to say what you can and cannot do out of working hours.
posted by jb at 6:47 AM on May 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


I like Ronson and his book is quite good, but I now have the feeling it will be trotted out every single time some dickhead does something awful in a public sphere, is caught on camera, and experiences blowback.

I mean, there are people who are shamed and mistreated without cause, or far beyond their actual crime. At this moment, this has not happened in this instance. And Ronson's book inadvertently dovetails with one of the more insidious philosophies of the Web -- that not only can abusive, sexist, demeaning behavior happen, but it should be able to happen without criticism or response, because free speech.
posted by maxsparber at 6:49 AM on May 14, 2015 [45 favorites]


Can you imagine how much of a financial liability someone like that could be to a company, leaving completely aside the moral vileness?

In a perfect world, lots. But -- and I don't mean to defend the guy or anything -- it ain't a perfect world; it's Ontario, and the company is Hydro One, the state-run electricity monopoly, so, you know, not so much in the financial liability department.


I apologize -- as an American, I'm ignorant of the context. If this guy sexually harassed a female employee, or something comparable, wouldn't it still be a huge headache and possibly huge expense for the employer, especially if the person suing felt that (e.g.) the organization had ignored clear signs that he was trouble?
posted by clockzero at 6:50 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am totally okay with this guy getting fired. Why? Because I care not a whit that he wasn't on the job; what I do care about that over half the time, this continues to happen everywhere with no consequences. And when there are no consequences, this means behaviour like this is normalized. If you don't want him fired, okay fine whatever, but at the very least he needs to face some sort of disciplinary action. Because by letting it slide or saying "boys will be boys," you're also saying, "Jeez, get over it, ladies, we all do stupid shit." Only that stupid shit happens to us all the damned time.
posted by Kitteh at 6:52 AM on May 14, 2015 [37 favorites]


I like Ronson and his book is quite good, but I now have the feeling it will be trotted out every single time some dickhead does something awful in a public sphere, is caught on camera, and experiences blowback.

Public shaming has been used as a form of social control for millenia and Ronson touches on this in the book, its pros and cons, and why internet shaming is different (e.g. because it was used in the past to enforce social norms in small, stable communities, it had bounds, and was designed to reintegrate - admittedly forcibly - outliers back into the community, vs. destroying them.) There's nothing to be gained by crushing these jackasses completely, but there is in making them understand loudly and painfully that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated*

* Except that it obviously generally is, and they're responding to the fact that they've probably been told that it's fine and totally acceptable since they were kids by plenty of people.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:56 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


whether or not this sort of activity should be and/or can be punished when said person is not actually on the job

The follow-up remark that "you're lucky there's not a f***ing vibrator here" is verging on uttering threats, a criminal offence punishable by not more than five years in prison.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:57 AM on May 14, 2015 [23 favorites]


What you do when not at work is your own business. If you do a stupid and perhaps criminal thing, you should be tried in a public court (legal and/or public opinion). But your employer shouldn't be able to say what you can and cannot do out of working hours.

Well, where's the cutoff for that, though? I mean you can just as easily turn that exact question back around at me, but if a person attends a completely legal and sanctioned hate group rally, should their employer be prevented from taking measures to the detriment of co-workers who match the intended victims of the hate group? Or, if not co-workers, what if this person is a manager?
posted by griphus at 6:59 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


By the way, I linked to Ronson's book not because I necessarily want to defend this asshole, but because it felt relevant to this topic. It's something that has been happening more and more with our social media. You reap what you sow. This guy double-downed and now he has to deal with the consequences of his actions.
posted by Fizz at 6:59 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Or, if not co-workers, what if this person is a manager?

Seriously. I would feel extremely unsafe in the workplace if someone senior to me and with hiring/firing power at my organization was caught on camera like this.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:01 AM on May 14, 2015 [39 favorites]


I heard about this yesterday when someone asked what I thought of it over lunch. I had a really hard time understanding what the precise issue was, not having a full context. I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would do this.

The follow-up remark that "you're lucky there's not a f***ing vibrator here" is verging on uttering threats, a criminal offence punishable by not more than five years in prison.

Um, I think the original phrase is more than enough to be construed as uttering threats. It's condoning/encouraging rape. Damn right this guy gets fired.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:02 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thanks, Swandive. I appreciate you said this (emphasis mine):

I know, I'm messed up, but I didn't interpret that as being sexual, more embarrassment related. I'm probably wrong though. The more I read on MF the more I realise I'm somewhat behind the curve on things.

But the problem is, I bet if you asked these dudes, they would say the same thing (It's a joke, bro!). And while I like being straightforward and calling people out on gross behavior, it's frustrating to me that there's an impulse to go the other way (because they do it all the time), and basically act just like the people we're criticizing. Two wrongs don't make a right.
posted by sfkiddo at 7:04 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had an argument about this just last night. One of the guys in the group claimed that he wasn't directing it at her, that it wasn't a threat, that it wasn't sexual harassment, that no reasonable person would or should have felt threatened or offended, and that the guy who lost his job should sue for wrongful dismissal. WHAT THE FUCK DUDE
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:06 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


This reminds me so much of the Dalhousie dentistry student situation. The stuff those guys were writing on Facebook was the same stuff many people were saying forever without consequence. The only thing that changed is that technology now showcases those moments to the whole world- and preserves them.

It's a bit jarring to suddenly see severe consequences for behaviour that was previously unpunished. I suspect that is the reason for a lot of the blow-back. But (following up on Kitteh's point) I think and hope that this really could mean a de-normalizing of some kinds of behaviours.
posted by beau jackson at 7:06 AM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


What you do when not at work is your own business. If you do a stupid and perhaps criminal thing, you should be tried in a public court (legal and/or public opinion). But your employer shouldn't be able to say what you can and cannot do out of working hours.

I have similar feelings about this in a general sense. I don't like the idea that it's up to an employer to determine what is and isn't an acceptable activity for employees to engage in outside of work.

It does make sense to me, though, that employers can determine that certain actions, taken outside of work, demonstrate a person is not suitable to hold a particular position. For example, a person caught hacking into other people's e-mail accounts would be deemed unsuitable to work in an IT department. Or a person convicted of robbing a bank would not be allowed to run a finance department.

So I guess where the dividing line is for me is, is the employer making a moral judgement about something that has nothing to do with the responsibilities of the job, or are they seeing something that presents an obvious problem for the type of work the person does?
posted by FishBike at 7:06 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am totally okay with this guy getting fired. Why? Because I care not a whit that he wasn't on the job; what I do care about that over half the time, this continues to happen everywhere with no consequences. And when there are no consequences, this means behaviour like this is normalized.

This is a false dichotomy as others have pointed out. "Not being fired" does not mean "gets off scot-free". I think we all agree here that this is the sort of behavior which shouldn't be promoted or tolerated, and that there should be consequences for this guy's actions. But it's the job of government, not one's employer, to define and apply those consequences when the actions happen off the clock.
posted by xbonesgt at 7:07 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sfkiddo-

Well, I don't know everything so like. Yeah. Cheers for responding. There was no sexual threat or even much of an implication that I saw to the middle aged man reporting the sports. the dildo was an embarrassing object brought down to the stadium to get a rude object on television. Smutty humour, I guess.

Someone shouting fuck her in the pussy, or hinting about what they'd do with a vibrator, at a female reporter has a different edge to me. Like maybe it shouldn't, maybe it's more related than I think, I'll think about that.
posted by Swandive at 7:09 AM on May 14, 2015


But it's the job of government, not one's employer, to define and apply those consequences when the actions happen off the clock.

What would the government be able to do?
posted by griphus at 7:09 AM on May 14, 2015


>> Can you imagine how much of a financial liability someone like that could be to a company, leaving completely aside the moral vileness?

> In a perfect world, lots. But -- and I don't mean to defend the guy or anything -- it ain't a perfect world; it's Ontario, and the company is Hydro One, the state-run electricity monopoly, so, you know, not so much in the financial liability department.


Actually there's a whole other level here. First, I think the fact that Hydro One is a public corporation was part of the motivation for the firing. Can't have an asshole on the public payroll, that's too much of a political liability. That he is on the sunshine list increases the profile. But second, the Wynne government is introducing a partial-privatization asset recycling Ponzi scheme whereby they will be selling off up to 60% of Hydro One's shares to private corporations. So, it's a good move from a governance point of view, too.

I'm not sure it sets a great precedent in terms of behaviour outside the job resulting in termination, but I'm enjoying it anyway
posted by looli at 7:11 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I also think it's relevant that this wasn't some dumb thing done in private or even posted to Facebook. They were mouthing off to a NEWS REPORTER WHILE BEING FILMED.
posted by looli at 7:18 AM on May 14, 2015 [21 favorites]


I totally support the firing. Frankly, I wish more companies would engage in this sort of thing. For me, this falls into the same realm as punishing professional athletes for sexual assault, spousal, or child abuse. We have a society here with certain standards designed to protect people from harm. It's up to ALL of us to be enforcing those standards ALL the time. Firing misogynist morons like this is an excellent, responsible move by a corporation (that is, a legal member of a society) to say "this behavior isn't acceptable." It also says "you're not special, we'll just replace you with someone who is less of an ass." Which is another thing that these sorts of bros need to have beaten into their heads.

It's a very different story if, say, that guy had said "you're right, that was dumb. I don't know why I did it." Really ANY show of contrition would have saved his skin. For this guy, though, I hope that video follows him for the rest of his life.
posted by ghostiger at 7:19 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Failing to fire him wouldn't be a neutral act on the part of his employers. It would be a deliberate decision to create a hostile workplace by forcing their female employees continue to work with a man who had a documented public history of aggressively sexually harassing a woman as she attempted to do her job. Good on Shauna Hunt for her response.
posted by northernish at 7:19 AM on May 14, 2015 [89 favorites]


Not to mention that the provincial government has started to promote an anti-harassment, anti-bullying, anti-sexual violence campaign fairly heavily. They could have plopped the words and actions of these boors into one of the TV ads and they would have fit perfectly (with the exception of being too graphic.)
posted by sardonyx at 7:19 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


But it's the job of government, not one's employer, to define and apply those consequences when the actions happen off the clock.

Not really. As this article points out, it's cause or no cause that's the issue. If your job involves judgement (and what job doesn't) it can be an indication that you're not fit for the workplace.

To put it in more black and white terms: if at 5:01 an employee punched another employee in the face in the parking lot in front of a manager, are you saying that because this person is 'off the clock' they shouldn't be terminated? A salaried employee such as this fellow is pretty much always on the clock.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:20 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The follow-up remark that "you're lucky there's not a f***ing vibrator here" is verging on uttering threats, a criminal offence punishable by not more than five years in prison.

TBH, I only read the background link and didn't watch the videos because that's way too negative way too early in the morning. But if a GUY said that to me as a double down, I would have a hard time not using the oh-so-obvious responses to mock him.
posted by sfkiddo at 7:21 AM on May 14, 2015


We may happen to agree that this behaviour is inappropriate and offensive, but what happens when an employer starts claiming that publically discussing company abuses or draconian policies is "damaging to the brand"? Or supporting the wrong political party is "against their behavioural code."

Clearly there are some legal but despicable behaviors an employer could fire an employee for, marching in a KKK rally, for instance. Absolute freedom of speech is only about restricting the government's power to keep you from speaking at all, not protecting you from any and all consequences of what you say. So the only question is where to draw the line.

I'm OK with fighting to keep this kind of disgusting sexual harassment on one side of the line and whistleblowing and supporting a political party on the other side.
posted by straight at 7:24 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I also think it's relevant that this wasn't some dumb thing done in private or even posted to Facebook. They were mouthing off to a NEWS REPORTER WHILE BEING FILMED.

Yup. That shows incredibly bad judgment. How dumb can you be?
posted by sfkiddo at 7:24 AM on May 14, 2015


How drunk can you be?
posted by beau jackson at 7:26 AM on May 14, 2015


But it's the job of government, not one's employer, to define and apply those consequences when the actions happen off the clock.

No, it isn't. If you are making 100K/yr and you are on national television saying the shit he said, they have every right to fire you. The government has no role here, but a very public company does.
posted by Kitteh at 7:27 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


The company is the government.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:29 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


I always forget that about Hydro One. I have Utilities Kingston so I don't deal with them very often. (Prolly owned by Hydro One, I guess.)
posted by Kitteh at 7:30 AM on May 14, 2015


What you do when not at work is your own business. If you do a stupid and perhaps criminal thing, you should be tried in a public court (legal and/or public opinion). But your employer shouldn't be able to say what you can and cannot do out of working hours.

Employees at my company sign an contract when they are hired which says they can be fired for engaging in "unethical conduct outside the workplace." New York is an at-will state, so it is entirely legal.
posted by zarq at 7:31 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


How drunk can you be?

Misogynist Under the Influence, then?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:33 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


We may happen to agree that this behaviour is inappropriate and offensive, but what happens when an employer starts claiming that publically discussing company abuses or draconian policies is "damaging to the brand"? Or supporting the wrong political party is "against their behavioural code."

These things already happen (Uber famously boots drivers who criticize it on social media, for example, and every election someone gets fired because of their political affiliation), and the people fired because of them have no legal recourse. So we've already slipped down that slippery slope.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:40 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


How drunk can you be?

Like that is any excuse...
posted by caddis at 7:42 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hydro One is unionized, but it's not clear if this guy is in the union. Even so, it looks like this may be a costly decision for Hydro One:
Unlike former CBC radio personality Jian Ghomeshi, who was fired for alleged sexual misconduct and is facing criminal charges, Mr. Simoes likely cannot be said to have been a public face of Hydro One, some employment lawyers said...

Some lawyers say if the firing is challenged, Hydro One could have a fight on its hands.

"I think the employer would have an uphill battle ... in a case like this," said Louis Sokolov, a Toronto employment lawyer at Sotos LLP. "Assuming he was not wearing branded clothing of his employer at the time."

David Doorey, an associate professor of labour law at York University, said courts could refuse to rule an employer had just cause if the behaviour was an aberration or a drunken mistake in an otherwise unblemished work history...

Courts and labour arbitrators have previously refused to label making obscene comments in the workplace, or even slapping a co-worker, as just cause for dismissal, said Landon Young, managing partner of employment and labour law firm Stringer LLP.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:43 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


If there isn't already a law against this behavior then we need to make one and punish offenders under that law.
But employers should have no influence over your life outside of working hours. They don't own you, they employ you. I'm reminded of a recent push for having transit drivers submit to drug testing (not testing for being under the influence on the job, but testing for evidence of drug use at any time) with their jobs on the line. Is it right for a bus driver to be fired for smoking a joint after getting home from work? If not, where do we draw the line between that and a case like this?
I shed no tears for this asshole or his job, but I worry about our society willingly handing their lives over to their employers.
posted by rocket88 at 7:45 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I shed no tears for this asshole or his job, but I worry about our society willingly handing their lives over to their employers.

It's not their lives that are being handed over, it's control over their employment, which seems to me a natural role for employers.
posted by beau jackson at 7:49 AM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


No, it isn't. If you are making 100K/yr and you are on national television saying the shit he said, they have every right to fire you.

What does the amount of money he makes have to do with anything?
posted by cardboard at 7:51 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


How drunk can you be?

Like that is any excuse...


I certainly didn't mean to imply that being drunk is an excuse. It's just part of the explanation for why they would willingly say these things on camera.
posted by beau jackson at 7:51 AM on May 14, 2015


Courts and labour arbitrators have previously refused to label making obscene comments in the workplace, or even slapping a co-worker, as just cause for dismissal...

W.T.F.?
posted by BlueHorse at 7:57 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


What does the amount of money he makes have to do with anything?

Generally because guys who make comments like that and make that kind of decent wage usually feel as though they are untouchable. But I will confess that is my own take on that.
posted by Kitteh at 7:59 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is it right for a bus driver to be fired for smoking a joint after getting home from work?

I have been subject to drug testing for several IT jobs in the past 25 years, as have people in many jobs both skilled and unskilled. This isn't even anywhere close to being illegal, and is in many situations completely standard. (I don't agree with it, but there's yet to be a successful enough test of it at the Supreme Court level to do away with it. This is, of course, in the US.)

There has been some controversy about testing for alcohol use (not for being intoxicated, for using at all, or for smoking tobacco), which gets much murkier because it's legal to use alcohol and tobacco. I don't believe marijuana is fully legal in Canada, and it is federally illegal in the US even though some states have laws in violation of the federal laws.

That we cannot test the highness level of a bus driver is an issue, whereas a good drunk the night before will leave you with provably more than a 0.0%BAC in the morning, so it is kind of reasonable to ask drivers to not use illegal drugs that may not leave your system before your shift starts, yes. Much as they are, I hope, expected to be 0.0%BAC, and to control their off-work use of alcohol to make that the case.

We can't yet measure Misogynist Dudebro levels either, so much like being high all you can really do is deal with it when they make it patently clear they're under the influence.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:01 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I often think people should be easier to fire than they are. Like with police and teachers, who can impact the environment of all those they interact with, someone should be able to say you're not a good fit for this important job and should move on. But we all know that will be abused and good people who threaten or just annoy those in power will be removed while mediocre, lazy or harmful toadies continue forward. We also know that employers in the past overreached into workers' lives - as with female teachers. So we have protections that often make it too much a chore to dismiss failed employees.

It does seem difficult to remove workers in long-held, full-time, middle-class and above positions. Cops clearly up to no good go on paid suspensions from duty while their cases get kicked around the courts for years. The head of the Housing Corporation in Toronto was discovered to be mishandling funds but needed a giant payout to go away. Before Ghomeshi realized he might be looking at jail he thought he could sue the CBC for millions for removing him. He was an on-air personality - don't know why they shouldn't be able to say at anytime, you've gone stale, not a good fit anymore, find another job. The former mayor of the city where this incident happened said before cameras that he had enough pussy to eat at home and he was re-elected, although at a lesser position. (So difficult to know what the community standard is here.) As a temp worker I've worked places where I'm disposable hour to hour while all around are full-time light-duty malingerers who aren't worth the hassle to remove. No wonder companies choose to keep people on contract and temporary terms.

Since it is often so difficult to remove workers this outcome can appear brash, as if Ontario Hydro's action is a PR response to fear of the viral reaction. Being able to ride the righteous mob reaction allows management's case to be much easier made than if it was just them against the union on some smaller workplace matter of someone failing to do their job. I don't know, an idiot being an idiot repeating some offensive stunt other drunken idiots have been spreading, is that so harmful that he deserves to lose his job? But then if a highly paid professional person was captured on camera participating in hooliganism where cars were torched, windows were shattered and people were injured, I'd have little problem saying he wasn't living up to the expectations of his position in society and doesn't deserve it. Maybe this can be seen as equivalent to that, depending on the degree one thinks he was directly threatening or harassing someone.
posted by TimTypeZed at 8:02 AM on May 14, 2015


Wow. I just watched a compilation of the FHRITP clips and it is beyond creepy. So offensively sexually creepy for the reporters that are women. Ugh. I sometimes weep for our society.
posted by tunewell at 8:07 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always worked at "at will" employment states, and rarely had a contracted that modified that, so unless I was to be fired for something protected by local or federal law (race, religion, etc.), I could be fired just because my boss was in a bad mood.

The discussion about how you should be able to do anything in your free time and have it not affect you at work is foreign to my experience, and, I suspect, to the experience of the majority of humanity. Perhaps in a better world our work life and private life would be siloed, but we're not in that world, and, honestly, I mostly see this argument come up right now when a man is fired for doing something sexist or someone does something racist. I mean, if you're not out there protesting when a Burger King employee gets fired because her bus was late, I question whether or not this is actually about protecting people from unfair firing practices, and instead about protecting privilege.
posted by maxsparber at 8:08 AM on May 14, 2015 [29 favorites]


I don't like the idea of people being fired. It doesn't fit the offense. They should be charged with harassment, and punished accordingly.

We may happen to agree that this behaviour is inappropriate and offensive, but what happens when an employer starts claiming that publically discussing company abuses or draconian policies is "damaging to the brand"? Or supporting the wrong political party is "against their behavioural code."


This is slippery slope fallacy. And if I'm not mistaken, both firing for criticizing company employment actions and firing based on political participation would be illegal. The first would be retaliation and illegal under employment law, the second would violate elections law (trying to coerce a vote or support). Further, because the employer here is the government, the hypothetical person would be further protected by section 2 of the Charter. Also, wouldn't they just get fired after their harassement conviction? Surely you can decide that committing a serious criminal offence is grounds for firing? And if it is, then why is a conviction required? Employment law does not have the same standard of proof as criminal law, after all.

Also "we thought you were trustworthy, but it turns out you have a complete and utter lack of judgement" would also be grounds for dismissal -- that's not about the person's actions, it's about the person's qualification for the job. We need someone with good judgment. That's not you.

I had an argument about this just last night. One of the guys in the group claimed that he wasn't directing it at her, that it wasn't a threat, that it wasn't sexual harassment, that no reasonable person would or should have felt threatened or offended, and that the guy who lost his job should sue for wrongful dismissal.

I think this person misses the point. It's not that a female reporter in that situation would be offended in any personal sense or feel personally threatened. I think she could safely assume that a rape was not imminent. And that's what the first guy in the interview seems to be saying with his repeated "it's not about you" arguments.

What that guy and the other guy, and your friend seem to miss is that it's just an offensive statement in general, not offensive to the person being spoken too. I mean it's not like he said "I like it when women and I have sex." or "Let's have sex." or "You two should have sex." or "You should have sex with someone, Ms. Hunt." or "I think lots of people should have sex lots." All of those things would have been wierd and inappropriate things to shout, but very different from what was actually said. What was actually said was a command (it was in the imperative)* that some unnamed person have sex with some woman, the identity of whom is not clear.** The command is one in which the man is the only active part and the woman is acted upon. And since the woman was not active in the commanded interaction and not the person who commanded it, there's no indication that any consent is given or expected. That's what makes it rapey, even though it's not a direct "I'm going to rape you" threat. Anyone who thinks "it's not about her" or "he wasn't threatening to rape her" is some sort of defence is being deliberately obtuse.

Incidentally, not that in that phrasing the implied "he" is the subject of the sentence and the "her" is the object of the sentence. This is what objectification means. People speak of it now as if it means thinking of a person as a "thing" but in the feminist theory that originated the term it referred to "object" in the grammatical sense -- that which is acted upon rather than that which acts. The opposite of object i this context isn't "person" it's "subject" or "agent." This sentence is objectification in it's purest most defintional form.

* Yes, "Let's have sex " is in the imperative, too, but "let's" is a phrase that invites the other person's participation, rather than simply acting upon the person.

** The montage showing that this is also done to male reporters suggests that the "her" in question is not necessarily the reporter.

One more thing, the guy who actually said it walked away and wasn't identified. The two guys who were interviewed were just dumbasses who thought it was funny and made assholes of themselves on camera, not the people who actually said it.

[Due to reasons, I walked away from this comment for about an hour before completing it, so if everything I've said has since become moot, well, forget I said anything, I guess. I don't have time to refresh and read all the new comments right now]
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:08 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Existing hiring and other HR practices are already heavily normative, in favour of certain groups (scratch list: ableist, ethnocentrist, racist, sexist, sizeist, etc etc etc). I don't have a problem with this new norm being picked up at all.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:14 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


buoys in the hood: "An interesting off-shoot of the creepy social media era is - what you do off-work has the potential for you to be identified and for your employer to be identified, and for the social sphere to hold your employer to account for employing someone who does or says X thing.

Like many things, I am happy that this asshole got what was coming to him in this instance because I think what he did was deplorable, but I do see the potential for a trend like this to blow back haphazardly."

I can see that, but, by and large, if you can resist being a giant asshat in public/online, you shouldn't have too many problems as I see it.


Well - to tie it to an emerging issue in Canada - let's say the government determines that they have a zero tolerance policy on people who organize boycotts against Israel. If you were filmed by a TV crew at a protest against this kind of thing on your time, would it be alright for your employer to fire you over it because they got some heat?

Like I said - I am encouraged that the response to this guy's actions in general have been swift and damning - but I am a bit worried that the threat of loss of employment for things you do off your job that your company may/may not support doesn't just swing with the ethical positions I support. It could, in theory, swing in a way that increases the risk of protesting government actions, particularly in the city (Ottawa) I am in where everyone's company wants to be favoured by the government of the day.
posted by buoys in the hood at 8:27 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well - to tie it to an emerging issue in Canada - let's say the government determines that they have a zero tolerance policy on people who organize boycotts against Israel.

I'm going to hold off having an opinion until any of this actually happens.
posted by maxsparber at 8:31 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well - to tie it to an emerging issue in Canada - let's say the government determines that they have a zero tolerance policy on people who organize boycotts against Israel. If you were filmed by a TV crew at a protest against this kind of thing on your time, would it be alright for your employer to fire you over it because they got some heat?

It depends. Is Israel a woman and is boycotting an informal slang term for the casual disregard for her innate worth as a human being and treating her as nothing more than a sexual object?
posted by Talez at 8:33 AM on May 14, 2015 [19 favorites]


Just have to comment on the 'public shaming' thing. I've noticed that the chances of being unjustly and publicly shamed drop dramatically when you don't shout vile, juvenile filth into a TV camera.
posted by LonnieK at 8:37 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


If there isn't already a law against this behavior then we need to make one and punish offenders under that law.

We can't even get a majority of people to recognize that street harassment is a problem on a conceptual level. What the hell makes you think that a) there would already be a law against it, and b) you'd be able to actually get one made?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:38 AM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


Surely you can decide that committing a serious criminal offence is grounds for firing? And if it is, then why is a conviction required?

Wow, that's a frightening position.
posted by Rumple at 8:39 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm on my phone or I would dig it up, but apparently the guy who claims to have started this "FHRITP" thing was interviewed/posted to YouTube yesterday. He claims that its all about saying words you can't say on TV, which is why it is "funny", and that it isn't about demeaning/harassing women.

My immediate questions - 1. If it isn't intended as demeaning, harassing, sexist junk, why is the word choice so gendered? You could use words that aren't about women that also can't be said on TV. 2. Could somebody send this guy a copy/link of George Carlin doing his 7 words bit, and ask him to come up with something that hasn't been done before and done better? Im not a huge George Carlin fan, but seriously, if you are trying for transgressive humour, set your bar a lot higher.

I am just so sick and tired of watching people act like assholes and then trying to claim some kind of credibility because it's supposed to be some kind of "statement".

I guess it is a statement, in a way: a statement about what kind of fucked up jerk the person is.
posted by nubs at 8:40 AM on May 14, 2015 [19 favorites]


I mean, this is the entire problem with the meta discussion (no pun intended) of the whole issue. Like brazenly harassing a women on live fucking TV isn't such a big deal and that we shouldn't treat it as such. That there's morally equivalency between this action and a valid political opinion.

Why don't we just trot out "boys will be boys" while we're at it? If she didn't want to have "fuck her right in the pussy" yelled at her she shouldn't have been a reporter, AMIRITE GUYS?
posted by Talez at 8:41 AM on May 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


He claims that its all about saying words you can't say on TV, which is why it is "funny", and that it isn't about demeaning/harassing women.

Ah, yes, "I was conducting a social experiment". The classic copout of the online dipshit. The variants are myriad, but they all still have that certain je ne sais quoi of flounder-y backpedalling.

I suggest serving it with an audacious little Chardonnay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 AM on May 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


The follow-up remark that "you're lucky there's not a f***ing vibrator here" is verging on uttering threats, a criminal offence punishable by not more than five years in prison.

TPS (Toronto Police Service) has indicated they're investigating. Criminal charges could be laid.

The amount of money he makes is an issue because he's on the Sunshine List of government employees who make more than $100K/year.

And, as a government employee, he's legally required to adhere to standards about discrimination/equality as laid out in both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (part of the constitution) and the Ontario Human Rights Code. This behaviour has demonstrated that his fitness for his job is seriously at question.

So while I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of people getting fired for their off-hours activities if they damage the brand, I'm absolutely comfortable with people being fired for off-hours activities that demonstrate they are unfit for the job.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:48 AM on May 14, 2015 [27 favorites]


Me:Surely you can decide that committing a serious criminal offence is grounds for firing? And if it is, then why is a conviction required?

Rumple: Wow, that's a frightening position.

So if I walk into my office today and punch someone and then go into their office and burn their things, my employer should not be able to fire me unless I am convicted of assault and arson?

Is it really different if I'm off the clock? What if I do it in the parking lot across the street after hours -- say stab a coworker and trash their car? On the payroll until such time as I am possibly convicted? I know someone who did that. Should he have gone back to work for the two years it took to get to trial and conviction? What if he had done it, but hadn't been convicted?

What if I'm sued civilly and found civilly responsible -- so a court has found that on the balance of probability, I stabbed and vandalized -- but I'm not criminally convicted?

Look, criminal convictions require proof "beyond a reasonable doubt." A civil finding requires proof "on the balance probabilities." Surely firing someone requires as little or less as a civil finding, so even a person not convicted might nonetheless be "proved enough" to have done wrong to be fired.

You cannot seriously be arguing that committing a criminal act can only be punished by an employer if and when the person is convicted of a crime.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:49 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


You cannot seriously be arguing that committing a criminal act can only be punished by an employer if and when the person is convicted of a crime.

In almost every thread on campus rape, somebody insists that you should not be suspended unless you are proven to be guilty by a court of law. On one hand, it is nice that some people have so much faith in the American courts to speedily determine justice; on the other hand, I must assume they have never actually experienced the American court system.
posted by maxsparber at 8:56 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think the focus is a bit off if we necessarily see this kind of firing as "punishment". If I'm not mistaken, an employer can let someone go for any reason (unless the reason violates the human rights code) given that the person is given compensation. It might not be a case of "punishing" his actions as much as an employer just not wanting to employ that person anymore.
posted by beau jackson at 9:03 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


And, as a government employee, he's legally required to adhere to standards about discrimination/equality as laid out in both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (part of the constitution) and the Ontario Human Rights Code. This behaviour has demonstrated that his fitness for his job is seriously at question.

When he's not on the clock? No more than non-government employees are. Working for the government does not generally mean you represent the Crown when you're not actually on the job.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:03 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


My point being, he has demonstrated off the clock that he is unwilling to adhere to laws which he must uphold as part of his work duties. Which calls into question his ability to actually do his job effectively.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:07 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gotta love how the most important part of this act of sexual harassment is whether someone's job should be protected...

Is this just the boys club at work or is there something else going on here?
posted by caddis at 9:11 AM on May 14, 2015 [27 favorites]


An interesting off-shoot of the creepy social media era is - what you do off-work has the potential for you to be identified and for your employer to be identified, and for the social sphere to hold your employer to account for employing someone who does or says X thing.

I think you are conflating social media and traditional media. If commit a misdemeanor and one of your chucklehead buddies posts a picture of you on Facebook where you are, I dunno, climbing a fence and trespassing on private property, I think reasonable people could argue it is not the same as standing in front of a reporter during a live TV piece -- whom you have specifically targeted because she is a TV reporter doing a live TV piece -- and engaging in some threatening verbal sexual insults.

The attention to this and the catharsis here is largely because he is almost a hack screenwriter's version of a minor antagonist in a slobs-vs-snobs comedy. And his doubling down when he is called on his prickery is the feather in his cap -- describing his parroted catchphrase as "substantial" and mansplaining to the incredibly controlled and professional reporter Shauna Hunt why it is all harmless fun called to mind this comment from the blue from yesterday.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:14 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Which calls into question his ability to actually do his job effectively.

Right, and that means management should probably keep an eye out for any indication that he's behaving improperly on the job. Your boss doesn't own you 24/7.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:18 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the reason why people are focusing more on whether his job should have been protected is the oh god what if it could happen to me terror this strikes in the hearts of men. (Not talking about men in this thread, just men in general.) Really the easiest way to not be fired for being a sexist asshat is to not be a sexist asshat.
posted by Kitteh at 9:18 AM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


Gotta love how the most important part of this act of sexual harassment is whether someone's job should be protected...

Is this just the boys club at work or is there something else going on here?


I think it's partly boys club. I think it's partly we're just taking it as read that what he did was horrific and wrong, so what happens next? And I think part of it is that Canadian thing about 'peace, order, and good government' and looking at whether consequences are proportional. (FTR: I am on board with him being fired, I hope TPS finds that there is enough evidence to take to the Crown, and this shit needs to stop yesterday.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:18 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I find it sad, if not surprising, that the reaction to this seems more focused on the impact on his job than the impact on hers (and so many other women's).
posted by heisenberg at 9:19 AM on May 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


Right, and that means management should probably keep an eye out for any indication that he's behaving improperly on the job. Your boss doesn't own you 24/7.

If you were a woman, how comfortable would you be working for a man who thinks it's fine to go on national television and utter implied threats of sexual assault? That directly impacts his ability to work.

There's at least one woman in this thread who has said she would not feel safe in such a situation.

find it sad, if not surprising, that the reaction to this seems more focused on the impact on his job than the impact on hers (and so many other women's).

She's a national fucking hero at this point. Her job is secure. And she should never have had to suffer this in the first place, no question about that whatsoever.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:21 AM on May 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Surely you can decide that committing a serious criminal offence is grounds for firing? And if it is, then why is a conviction required?

Wow, that's a frightening position.


We saw this with Aaron Hernandez - he was let go from the Patriots as soon as he was charged with murder. Obviously the situation is somewhat different - he was a marquee player in pro sports. But there's certainly precedent for people being let go as PR liabilities (see also: Adria Richards in the "donglegate" situation)
posted by theorique at 9:21 AM on May 14, 2015


Gotta love how the most important part of this act of sexual harassment is whether someone's job should be protected

Welcome to every thread about sexual harassment ever. We haven't yet reached the point of "harassment is free speech!" and the inevitable complaints about how this is structural oppression against men, but it's only been a couple hours.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:22 AM on May 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


Is it right for a bus driver to be fired for smoking a joint after getting home from work?

Speaking as a guy who rides buses every day, I'd like my drivers not to be high when they're driving. Is there a realistic way to determine they're only blazing up at night and the effects are out of their system?
posted by zarq at 9:25 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Right, and that means management should probably keep an eye out for any indication that he's behaving improperly on the job. Your boss doesn't own you 24/7.

I'm sorry but if you've decided to drunkenly imply rape threats on live TV I think it's safe to assume you're done professionally with women at an organization at that point.
posted by Talez at 9:26 AM on May 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


I'm not shocked that we're focussing so much on the guy's job- I mean, him losing his job for harassing a reporter on TV is the thing that is quite new here. For sure there is "boys club" blowback. No doubt. But I also think there is room for discussing the reach of employers and their legal and moral rights/duty to fire someone.

It's the subject of the panel discussion linked to above from this morning "The Current". In my morning haze, I remember it being quite good. I'd recommend listening.
posted by beau jackson at 9:26 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


But I also think there is room for discussing the reach of employers and their legal and moral rights/duty to fire someone.

I know! Women at his place of employment shouldn't worry about him. I mean he probably doesn't have a vibrator at work so they're probably lucky in that regard.
posted by Talez at 9:31 AM on May 14, 2015 [19 favorites]


yeah i mean really, what is actually so terrifying about being a woman potentially working late alone in an office with a man for whom drunken rape threats are so comical and commonplace that he will make them on live tv?
posted by poffin boffin at 9:34 AM on May 14, 2015 [40 favorites]


My reaction to this: I have to deal with this shit on my way to and from work every day. Female reporters - and others whose job involves some form of "being female in public" - have to deal with it while actually trying to do their jobs. That is awful.

The more common reaction, apparently: He lost his job! What does this mean for things that might hypothetically happen to other people in the future?

Yes, we (the general "we," not just this thread) can talk about both. But we're not, as far as I can tell - we're focusing almost exclusively on something that might cause problems for other people's (mostly men's) employment down the line, rather than also talking about the actual effects on other women's employment right now. That's the part I find sad and frustrating.
posted by heisenberg at 9:35 AM on May 14, 2015 [23 favorites]


Good for her. But now I am worried about her and what the blowback could be, the price she could pay. Who cares about him.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:39 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


I know! Women at his place of employment shouldn't worry about him. I mean he probably doesn't have a vibrator at work so they're probably lucky in that regard

You might have thought I was implying that he shouldn't get fired. I was just saying that the discussion on labour rights and whatnot is important and legitimate. It's also just fascinating to see how technology has let everyone see what before was private behaviour and the subsequent effect it has on the rest of the person's life. As I said, the Current panel discussion does a great job and touching all points.

Let me be clear- I think it's good that he was fired. And as I said above, I hope that incidents like this and the Dal Dentistry thing to contribute to this behaviour being less normalized.
posted by beau jackson at 9:39 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


But now I am worried about her and what the blowback could be, the price she could pay.

Given the rape and death threats leveled against other women who publicly objected to sexual harassment, I worry about that too.
posted by heisenberg at 9:41 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why is it that every fucking time there is some pushback against harassment, or some guy gets singled out and shamed for his (always filmed, always documented) behavior, we go over the slippery slope argument? WHY. Metafilter cannot goddamn resist going down the "omg but IMAGINE if this was a slightly different scenario? WHAT THEN, WOMEN?!??!!" road.

Come on!
posted by erratic meatsack at 9:42 AM on May 14, 2015 [26 favorites]


Here's what the Ontario Ministry of Labour has to say, in the guide for Termination of Employment:

http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/pubs/guide/termination.php

"The ESA does not require an employer to give an employee a reason why his or her employment is being terminated."

...with a few exceptions. One of which is that an employer can't penalize you for exercising rights provided by the Employment Standards Act. So an employee couldn't be fired for, say, refusing to work more than the legislated limit of hours per day.

But if an employer wants to fire you because you don't get along with another employee? No problem. Or for saying something stupid in public? Definitely no problem. All they have to do is pay up one week severance for each year of employment. 5 or 6 weeks of pay to get this jackhole out of my employ would be well worthwhile.
posted by HighLife at 9:42 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you really want this to be marginalized then the guys who are standing there when such stunts are pulled need to step up and object as it is occurring. Deny the perp the feedback and adulation from the guys he seems to be seeking.
posted by caddis at 9:42 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


So even though they were in a public place, and Hunt was accompanied by at least one other crew member, she probably wasn't just offended and angered, but to some degree, genuinely shocked and frightened. Although she wasn't touched directly by the guy yelled the original insult, she probably had been grabbed or shoved in previous incidents. If you take a look at those video compilations, how often if a woman's arm or shoulder grabbed, and how often does the shout take place right next to the woman's ear? I was furious just watching Hunt's video and the smug aftermath, and I wasn't even there.

A CTV journalist posted this series of screen caps where she wasn't just yelled at, but grabbed and kissed. Forgive me if I went looking for the baseball bat I don't own right after seeing that.

Watching Grimes' Oblivion video is really extra-evocative right now.
“Oblivion” embodies that kind of archetype, going into this masculine world that is associated with sexual assault, but presented as something really welcoming and nice. The song’s sort of about being — I was assaulted and I had a really hard time engaging in any types of relationship with men, because I was just so terrified of men for a while.
The men surrounding Grimes are sometimes large and loud and exuberant and clumsy, sometimes remotely graceful and athletic, sometimes goofy and gallant, and sometimes just mysterious objects of desire. She immerses herself in their world so that she can continue to walk without fear.

I wonder what the outtakes look like. I wonder if any of those sweet young guys have pulled this shit with reporters.
posted by maudlin at 9:43 AM on May 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Another woman chiming in to say I would be, at a minimum, deeply uncomfortable working with this guy specifically and even more uncomfortable reporting sexual harassment to an organization that knew about this guy's public threats of sexual assault and didn't do anything to protect women in the company.

On a practical level, I would think that it's possible that the legal team insisted on this because he's now a huge liability; if a woman were to sue for sexual harassment, she'd just need to point to the continued employment of this man as, by itself, creating a hostile work environment and she wouldn't be making shit up because IF YOU ARE A WOMAN WHO HAS TO WORK WITH THIS MAN YOU ARE IN A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT.

I'm not a lawyer and I don't know anything about Canadian sexual harassment law but the concern for this guy's job without considering the jobs and lives of the women who would either need to quit or keep working with someone who has literally threatened sexual violence against a female stranger is not super great.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:47 AM on May 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


find it sad, if not surprising, that the reaction to this seems more focused on the impact on his job than the impact on hers (and so many other women's).

She's a national fucking hero at this point.


fffm is right. In the days since this happened, there has been nothing but praise for Hunt everywhere: for standing up for herself and other women in the same situation, for calling him on it, for remaining collected and professional through the whole thing. In contrast, so far as I can tell, the single facebook page in support of the dickhead has four likes and dozens of messages telling him, essentially, that he is a dickhead.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:51 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


A number of women have come forward to argue that the guy's behavior off-work is affecting his job because his female colleagues would be uncomfortable working with him.

If that still isn't a convincing argument as to "how did this guy's off-work behavior affect his job", then I'll step up and say that as a woman, I wouldn't be wanting to give the company my business, if I knew that that was how their employees felt about persons of my particular gender. And I doubt I'd be the only woman coming to that conclusion.

I mean, if "the company will lose business in a boycott" is a greater barometer of "did this behavior damage the business" than "the employee is a sexist dipshit", then fair enough.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:52 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Right, and that means management should probably keep an eye out for any indication that he's behaving improperly on the job. Your boss doesn't own you 24/7.

Assuming Canadian at-will employment laws work the same as American laws (and, given HighLife's links, it looks like they do), the employer is under no obligation whatsoever to do what you suggest. Your boss may not own you 24/7, but he or she owns decision-making authority over your employment 24/7. And if you demonstrate publicly that you cannot be trusted in the workplace (which is what happened here), the employer is 100% justified in canning your ass.

I think, personally, that this is a completely different situation from stories in which a teacher is fired because she (always she) posts drunken photos on Facebook (or, god forbid, a PTA mom saw her drinking margaritas at the Applebees). That's about an impermissible exercise of morality over an employee -- by contrast, this is about upholding valid workplace concerns about sexual harassment. It is nonsensical to suggest that someone can sexually harassment women on his days off to his heart's content, as long as he doesn't do it on the job.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:02 AM on May 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


I've been thinking about this all morning.

Sometimes what appears to many to be more drastic measures to deal with shitty behavior need to be taken to make it clear that such behavior will have consequences. Sometimes harder lines need to be taken.

I understand that the concerns about non-work life affecting employment. As a very general principle I'm all for separation. I don't want to be completely beholden to my job.

I also know just how common this sort of behavior is. I've had to work for and with people who in their off hours behave in similar manner to these guys. I saw such things first hand. I can tell you that it is a really bad and uncomfortable position to be in. The worst was one guy who was drunk and dragged his then girlfriend out of the bar while spewing awful sexist crap. He did end up getting charged for assault but we had to work with him for almost a month before he ended up leaving.

This sort of behavior and the acceptance of it has just got to stop. Period. I'm okay with adding to the social behavior toolbox in this case because the problem is so widespread.

I've decided that I'm a-ok with slipping down the slope a little bit if it means that the social message might finally get across to some people that they can't go around acting this way because of consequences. At this time in history and with the seriousness of the types of harassment of women that is occurring I'm okay with the future possibility of having to climb back up a slope. If it means that at least some of this shit is stopped before it happens because the dude thinks "Hey I should not do this. I might lose my job' then so be it.
posted by Jalliah at 10:05 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


The follow-up remark that "you're lucky there's not a f***ing vibrator here" is verging on uttering threats, a criminal offence punishable by not more than five years in prison.

Exactly - if he uttered threats, he should be charged criminally.

My point was that the employer should not be allowed the power to monitor your behaviour out of work. That is completely ripe for abuse. The police and the courts are what we, as a society, have agreed exist to monitor and punish bad behaviour, and (as flawed as the checks can be) we monitor the legal system accordingly.
posted by jb at 10:08 AM on May 14, 2015


The original "prank" and its many copycats are evidently rooted in and fed by misogyny (whether John Cain originally intended it to be ironic or not, and based on his response to this story, it actually doesn't like he did, or even thought that much about it at all, he just sounds like an idiot). And the totality of the act amounts to harassment in its effects, no question. I wonder whether intent might play into a defense, though, given that as far as the bros are concerned, “It ha[d] nothing to do with you, it ha[d] everything to do with everyone else.”
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:09 AM on May 14, 2015


Speaking as a guy who rides buses every day, I'd like my drivers not to be high when they're driving. Is there a realistic way to determine they're only blazing up at night and the effects are out of their system?

I'd be much more concerned that the bus driver got enough sleep the night before -- I can't dig up the references now, but what I've seen is that driving high isn't really much more dangerous than driving sober, while driving sleepy is as bad as driving drunk.

The obvious answer is that bus drivers should be required to wear FitBits that report their sleep habits every day. 'Cause, you know, peace of mind!
posted by bjrubble at 10:09 AM on May 14, 2015


Gotta love how the most important part of this act of sexual harassment is whether someone's job should be protected

That's because pretty much everybody here is in agreement that the act of sexual harassment was horrible, inexcusable, and generally a shitty thing to do. There's no discussion to be had other than all nodding in agreement.

The general issue of how much control an employer should have over an employes's off-hours behavior is one where we're more divided so more open for debate. It's not the most important issue, but the most discussable one.
posted by rocket88 at 10:12 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


We haven't yet reached the point of "harassment is free speech!"

...well, it kinda is.

Of course, it's also free speech that he is completely and deservedly getting the figurative shit kicked out of him for his enormously offensive and stupid "joke". It's also free association that he's so radioactive now that even his employer doesn't want to be linked with him.

Just because you have free speech doesn't mean you should be spouting whatever comes into your mind at any moment in time. Just because I can run around proclaiming that maybe Pol Pot had the right idea doesn't make me right or immune to the very correct pushback of how horrible saying that is.

(Presuming people even know who he is anymore...)
posted by qcubed at 10:12 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


...well, it kinda is.

Maybe in Canada. In the US it's settled case law that both "fighting words" and threats are unprotected speech.
posted by Talez at 10:16 AM on May 14, 2015


the employer is under no obligation whatsoever to do what you suggest

As has been pointed out above, Hydro One is a unionized workplace, so they very well might be.

Even without union representation, whether they can fire him without paying him out depends on whether he "is guilty of wilful misconduct, disobedience or wilful neglect of duty that is not trivial and has not been condoned by the employer." The fact that he wasn't on the job at the time would not help Hydro One's case, and it may just be easier for them to pay him to go away.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:16 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The police and the courts are what we, as a society, have agreed exist to monitor and punish bad behaviour...

The police and courts have consistently failed to take seriously, never mind take action on, threats by men against women. So, while the courts and police continue to not do anything about this, why should his co-workers have to suffer his presence?
posted by griphus at 10:17 AM on May 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


(Presuming people even know who he is anymore...)

Maybe the day will come when we do not speak of a thread being Godwined but rather qcubed.

But today is not that day.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:17 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


...well, it kinda is.

A non-governmental employer firing someone for making rape threats on live tv is not a violation of their constitutional right to free speech.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:22 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


oh wait, is hydro one actually a govt org? ugh idk then.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:23 AM on May 14, 2015


oh wait, is hydro one actually a govt org?

Reply hazy; try again.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:24 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ben Trismegistus: It is nonsensical to suggest that someone can sexually harassment women on his days off to his heart's content, as long as he doesn't do it on the job.

Yes yes yes. I don't understand why we need to worry about what-if's and possible versions of this where some small factors are changed. We're dealing with someone who was spewing gendered harassment. I think we can all agree that this is a bad thing. I would also like to think that we can all agree it is a bad thing to continue to subject female coworkers of this guy to his presence, after being made aware of his behavior. Women here are saying they would be incredibly uncomfortable - here's another woman's statement if you need it. I'd complain to my employer day and night if they didn't kick his ass out. I don't think I have to explain exactly why continuing to work with someone like this would create a really bad environment. But let me know if I do! Maybe this isn't sinking in enough?

jb: My point was that the employer should not be allowed the power to monitor your behaviour out of work. That is completely ripe for abuse.

Can we maybe not do this? This is a very specific scenario where women are feeling threatened (again) and are rightfully complaining about it (again) and finally there was some action where one perpetrator saw consequences for his actions. Someone told him that what he did was unacceptable and stood by it, in a way that actually affects his day-to-day life. There was no "monitoring" in this story. There was no evidence of an employer mandating something unreasonable with an employee's free hours. Maybe let's discuss the facts of this particular scenario and not attempt to paint a grim picture of some dystopian future, where we are all beholden to our corporate overlords.

I understand the desire to discuss the fine details of what this entails for society as a whole. But harassment is something women deal with daily, and it feels super gross and frankly dismissive to use this case in some mental gymnastics about hypothetical stories.
posted by erratic meatsack at 10:26 AM on May 14, 2015 [21 favorites]


Maybe the day will come when we do not speak of a thread being Godwined but rather qcubed.

Yeah, I kinda had to figure out another terrible monster.

Also, poffin boffin, I don't know if I was clear in my previous comment, but I don't disagree with you. Him getting fired isn't a violation of anything, but rather a company doing a sensible thing, in that they chose not to continue working with someone who clearly has no self-control.
posted by qcubed at 10:27 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


These things already happen (Uber famously boots drivers who criticize it on social media, for example, and every election someone gets fired because of their political affiliation), and the people fired because of them have no legal recourse. So we've already slipped down that slippery slope.

That is why I am concerned.

A few months ago, I had a friend who was warning me that I shouldn't share public newspapers articles about the company I worked for on social media, because the article was critical of a certain policy (one that I was also very unhappy with - and I expressed so directly to my manager). I could afford to lose that job, so I didn't worry about it - but these kinds of actions have a complete chilling effect on employees advocating for their own rights and for an influence on company policies.

I take to heart the issue that issues of sexual harassment can create a hostile work environment, and that perhaps there is a line: but I really don't trust employers to respect that line.
posted by jb at 10:29 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


both "fighting words" and threats are unprotected speech

Yes, but the problem then is proving that FHRITP is hate speech/inciting to a "breach of the peace".

While I think we're on the same side here (what he said is indefensible, shouldn't be protected, is hate speech), I don't know how the legal argument would play out.
posted by qcubed at 10:29 AM on May 14, 2015


it may just be easier for them to pay him to go away.

This is what I'm assuming they're doing. I haven't seen any sort of indication either way that they are trying to terminate him with or without severance. Without severance is obviously harder.

I've seen a lot of comments on other sites saying "oh, he's going to get a massive settlement for wrongful dismissal worth a couple years salary". Um, no. Severance is a week per year of employment. It's likely Hydro One is just going to give him the few weeks pay he's due, and be done with it.
posted by HighLife at 10:32 AM on May 14, 2015


The guy who was being interviewed by Hunt has spoken to the press.
Walter said he was totally taken aback, especially because one of the men also addressed him.

“I hate even repeating it ... he said: ‘You know you want to F her in the P,’” Walter said.

“I was offended, now he’s trying to bring me into it.”

Their interview was interrupted multiple times, Walter said, by men shouting things at the camera. The abuse must have continued he said, because his interview was over by the time Hunt confronted the other two men.
posted by maudlin at 10:32 AM on May 14, 2015


We haven't yet reached the point of "harassment is free speech!"

>...well, it kinda is.


It's worth remembering in discussions like this that Canada does not have a historical or legal free speech tradition in the US. And that Hydro One is a crown corp. And that Canada is, for the time being, its own country, with a flag and song and everything!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:33 AM on May 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


A few months ago, I had a friend who was warning me that I shouldn't share public newspapers articles about the company I worked for on social media, because the article was critical of a certain policy (one that I was also very unhappy with - and I expressed so directly to my manager). I could afford to lose that job, so I didn't worry about it - but these kinds of actions have a complete chilling effect on employees advocating for their own rights and for an influence on company policies.

There is still a vast cavernous gulf, with gale-force winds howling within it, between "my company fired me because I posted a critical article on Facebook" and "my company fired me because there was nationally-broadcast news footage of me telling a female reporter that she 'should come suck my dick before I use her head as a bowling ball'" or whatever.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:34 AM on May 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


And that Canada is, for the time being, its own country, with a flag and song and everything!

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? I thought you were like, states 23-42.
posted by qcubed at 10:35 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I shouldn't share public newspapers articles about the company I worked for on social media

The company I work for has a Business Code of Conduct that outlines the sort of things I'm allowed to discuss about the company online (including on my personal social media accounts). I agreed to the Code of Conduct as part of my employment agreement. If I were to violate that, I shouldn't be surprised if I got fired.

Many people don't read those in detail, and they should.
posted by HighLife at 10:37 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't want to derail this thread even more (from the main topic of the abuse of female reporters--which is a topic I take very, very seriously) to Ontario workplace law, but this is from one of the links I listed above:

The law would require employers to develop and post policies on workplace violence and harassment. “Violence” is defined as the use of ‘physical force’. Probably the most controversial item in the Bill is the requirement for the employer to inform workers when the will be working with a person with a history of violence and the “risk of workplace violence was likely to expose the worker to physical injury.” That will require some careful decision-making by employers.

The ‘harassment’ definition borrows from the Human Rights Code language: ”engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.” Notably, though, unlike the prohibition on harassment under the HRC, the harassment policy required under the OHSA would not be limited to specific grounds (like sex, age, creed, etc.). In other words, employers would now be required to have a policy that addresses harassment at work generally. Under the new law, a worker will be able to refuse work when there is a risk of workplace violence, but not when they are victims of harassment.


Given that this law is relatively new, I'm sure Hydro One is taking the topic of harassment and even the perception of it very seriously, even if this guy's actions don't directly fall into the bad-behaviour-at-work category.
posted by sardonyx at 10:40 AM on May 14, 2015


I've seen a lot of comments on other sites saying "oh, he's going to get a massive settlement for wrongful dismissal worth a couple years salary". Um, no. Severance is a week per year of employment. It's likely Hydro One is just going to give him the few weeks pay he's due, and be done with it.

And also (again, if our fair neighbors to the north operate like the US), the employee would likely have been given a severance agreement to sign, in which he would have to agree not to sue the company in exchange for receiving his severance pay. That's pretty standard in the US.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:47 AM on May 14, 2015


Ok never mind whoops of course, cleared things up for myself, re intent. It's unquestionably (intentional) sexual harassment. Whether they meant to be sexually threatening (which I guess is a thing in their minds) is beside the point. Sorry.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:47 AM on May 14, 2015


, if you're not out there protesting when a Burger King employee gets fired because her bus was late, I question whether or not this is actually about protecting people from unfair firing practices, and instead about protecting privilege.

And that is why I refuse to live in a right-to-work state, vote consistently for worker's rights -- and actually do protest when low-paid service workers are fired for unjust cause, because until about a month ago, I was working as a barista at Starbucks. A friend of mine was railroaded with accusations of theft for taking home food which was going into the garbage. She was told that if she even talked to any of us after she was fired, we would be fired in retaliation.

Frankly, I should have gone to the media or something, but at the time I was very busy, very stressed - and working at Starbucks to pay the rent.

It's not the 100k/year engineers who are really in danger when employers have all the power, it's the people who are more easily replaced. But if we don't protect the rights of asshole engineers, how much more vulnerable are the rest of us?
posted by jb at 10:48 AM on May 14, 2015


But if we don't protect the rights of asshole engineers, how much more vulnerable are the rest of us?

Protect what rights exactly? Because I have a follow-up question and I don't want to make any assumptions.
posted by erratic meatsack at 10:52 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Assuming Canadian at-will employment laws work the same as American laws (and, given HighLife's links, it looks like they do), the employer is under no obligation whatsoever to do what you suggest.
1. Forget "At Will" Employment

Many of the employment relationships in the U.S. are "at will" employment. "At will" employment means that either the employee or the employer may terminate the employment at any time, for any reason and without any notice. "At will" employment does not exist in Canadian employment law.

Canadian law provides that an employer can only terminate an employee without cause where it provides the employee with "reasonable notice" of the termination or compensation in lieu of notice. An employee’s minimum rights to notice are regulated by provincial statute, and vary from province to province. These rights may be modified by contract. However, any contract which provides for notice which is below the statutory minimum will be unenforceable and the court will act as if there is no contract at all.

Further, if no written contract of employment exists, or the contract of employment is silent or not enforceable on the issue of what the employee is entitled to upon termination, a court will imply a term of "reasonable notice". In doing so it will award damages equal to the total compensation the employee would have received during the notice period, including bonus, options, benefits, commissions as well as salary. What is considered "reasonable notice" will vary depending on the employee’s length of service, age and other factors.

If the employee finds re-employment during the "reasonable notice" period, any earnings he or she received during that period act to reduce the employer’s obligation.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:01 AM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Swandive: "@Samizdata Oh absolutely, this is them (I believe) thinking they're being humorous in the same way, except their judgement is severely fucked. But I'd have a hard time thinking someone could act like that all the time.

But I'm terribly optimistic.
"

But there's a difference in my mind between yelling obscene, abusive phrases on a public broadcast and a few dorks having an obviously ineffective Three Stooges slapflight or playing leapfrog or such in the background. In my mind, at least, the laughter is intended to be solely based on people refusing to take themselves seriously, not at shocking or offending people. Not to mention the fact the one or two times we get called out on it, we apologized sincerely and left the area. We didn't hang around to argue our hilarity.

(Besides, when I was first exposed to that particular meme, I thought it was SO blitheringly lame I regretted the couple of minutes I spent reading about/viewing it. And I am far from anti-meme, even some stupid ones (Look me up on MLKSHK for my collection of dickbutts if you need proof.))
posted by Samizdata at 11:09 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


qcubed: "And that Canada is, for the time being, its own country, with a flag and song and everything!

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? I thought you were like, states 23-42.
"

If that were true, I could finally try an authentic poutine without needing a passport.
posted by Samizdata at 11:10 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a side note, the last Ontario general election, the Conservative leader had a plank in his platform about making Ontario an at-will employment province. It was admittedly, one of of a number of baffling employment policies he proposed, but his party lost the election and he resigned as leader almost at once.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:10 AM on May 14, 2015


If that still isn't a convincing argument as to "how did this guy's off-work behavior affect his job", then I'll step up and say that as a woman, I wouldn't be wanting to give the company my business, if I knew that that was how their employees felt about persons of my particular gender. And I doubt I'd be the only woman coming to that conclusion.

Which is your right.

But, as another woman, I wouldn't ever associate his behaviour with Hydro One, because he is not in control of that company.

There is another issue at stake: proportionality. How much should someone be fined for uttering threats? $1000? $3000? Or should they serve jail-time?

By firing him, they have essentially fined him thousands of dollars, over 100k if he's out of work for a year or more. Some of you may think, great, that's what he deserves. But it feels disproportionate, even for threats.

Yes, women face many threats, and I'm sure this reporter feels sick and tired of the continuous harassment. But he's not the sole perpetrator, and this is disproportionate.

As for the hostile workplace issue: that is a very real concern. If I were his manager/HR, I would try to deal with it by talking to the members of his team, finding out their feelings, talking to him about why this is so egregiously inappropriate. And he would probably have to make concrete efforts to demonstrate that he understood that this behaviour was wrong and would never engage in anything to create a hostile workplace.

But, you know, that would take money and effort and might actually help make re workplace more comfortable for every one, firing him and hiring someone else (who might think the same things, but knows not to get caught) is so much easier.
posted by jb at 11:15 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


the last Ontario general election, the Conservative leader had a plank in his platform about making Ontario an at-will employment province

He wanted to make it a right-to-work province. That would have been even worse, and was aimed at completely destroying the efficacy of unions.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:16 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why is the act of stating these actions are completely unacceptable itself completely unacceptable, jb? I feel like "talking to him about why this is so egregiously inappropriate" is akin to wagging a finger and saying "Silly boy, you're not going to pull a stunt like that again, are you?"

It's similar to companies who say they "take your concern very seriously" and then disappear into radio silence when you try to follow up. It has proven to be quite useless.
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:20 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


But if we don't protect the rights of asshole engineers, how much more vulnerable are the rest of us?

Protect what rights exactly? Because I have a follow-up question and I don't want to make any assumptions.


The basic right not to be fired for behaviour which is off-work time, off-worksite. If I'm arrested for vandalism or even assault, and it doesn't involve my workplace or colleagues, I should be punished by the legal system, not arbitrarily by my employer.

Far from protecting privilege, the over-reach of employers hits the most vulnerable worst -- and this is probably the source of my bias. I am a woman, but I am also an employee, and I have felt threatened by my employer's power way more often than than I have felt threatened by sexual harassment. Unemployment and poverty are much scarier to me.
posted by jb at 11:20 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]




the employee would likely have been given a severance agreement to sign, in which he would have to agree not to sue the company in exchange for receiving his severance pay

Unless the employer is offering a huge amount of money in exchange for not suing, what's the advantage? There's a legal minimum amount of severance pay (and termination pay, if applicable) they must give you whether you sign anything or not.

That's pretty standard in the US.

Perky 'Canada' Has Own Government, Laws
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:23 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


So jb, your contention is that if one of your employees turns out to be, say, a cocaine dealer, or a subway groper, or running a revenge porn website, or knocking over liquor stores -- that you should be legally required to maintain their employment, despite the discomfort or danger they might represent to your other employees?
posted by KathrynT at 11:23 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The basic right not to be fired for behaviour which is off-work time, off-worksite.

This is not a right. I am sympathetic to the idea, because it seems like it protects the employee from abuses of the employer, but it also prevents the employer from protecting other employees from abuse. If someone rapes another employee off-site and during their own time, I want my employer to be able to fire them.
posted by maxsparber at 11:24 AM on May 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


The basic right not to be fired for behaviour which is off-work time, off-worksite.

What about the basic right of women to not feel threatened by someone who has demonstrated for a global audience that he has no regard for them? Why does his employment trump their right to feel safe in the workplace? I would argue that this is way more basic than the right to a job.
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:25 AM on May 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


Just FYI beau jackson, the Dal students were reinstated and graduated as normal. The last one to be reinstated was the guy who brought the Facebook group to the attention of the school.

I would like to know their names because, as a woman, I would really not feel safe with them as my dentist.

So no, I don't count on jobs or police or the courts to protect me. Glad to see this guy was fired. I wouldn't want to work for him.
posted by hydrobatidae at 11:29 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow, this thread has exploded.

I didn't miss it, right? Someone explained that the vibrator he's mentioning is literally the dildo-in-the-ear trick from Sky sports? Not defending that either, but I don't think it's meant as a rape threat.

Just for clarity, I think it's perfectly fine that he lost his job for this as it verges on harrassment for sure. On the other hand, there was that piece around here a few months back on folks cleaning up their social media accounts when call-out culture has maaaaybe gone around the bend. That lady who was fired for doing a disrespectful pose at a veteran's cemetery comes to mind. There is definitely conversation to be had about employer reach outside the job.
posted by taterpie at 11:33 AM on May 14, 2015


The basic right not to be fired for behaviour which is off-work time, off-worksite.

There is no such right. There is only the discussion of which things are OK reasons for an employer to fire someone.
posted by straight at 11:34 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Discussions about events like this devolve very quickly into questions about where to draw the line. How about today, the line says it's not okay to make obscene statements about harassing women?

And when another, different situation comes up, we'll see how much the line needs to be recalibrated for that other, different situation?
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:35 AM on May 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


I think this happened exactly as it should. Guy does something rude, sexist and gross (though not illegal). He is questioned by the reporter who used her power and privilege as someone with a microphone to call him out but also did some ad hoc actual journalism and allowed dude to justify himself in some way by asking honest questions. He and his friends revealed themselves, glaringly and stridently, to be moronic thoughtless assholes. Everyone, including their employers, now knows the true makeup of their character and they are free to act in any way they choose based on that. Society wins. No other retribution is called for, and we can go on with our day.

Jon Ronson is under the impression that every time someone gets pilloried in the comments their lives are UTTERLY RUINED. Yes, sometimes that happens. Other times, it is just some rude comments that dissolve once the rage passes. Like this violinist who tweeted at Amtrak during the train crash the other day, that she needed her violin. Some people replied rudely to her, others said incredibly crazy horrible shit, others defended her vehemently. She deleted her account. Ronson's account of that is that she was DESTROYED by the process. I think in the end we don't gain anything by hyperventilating every time this takes place. Sometimes there's an unfortunate misunderstanding and evil shit gets said. It's not all on the level of PURE DESTRUCTION OF THE INNOCENT. Sometimes it's more like a flash flood. Get the victim to safety and call that a win.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:35 AM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


He wanted to make it a right-to-work province. That would have been even worse, and was aimed at completely destroying the efficacy of unions.

True: I misremembered. Carry on.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:37 AM on May 14, 2015


Here's the guy claiming to have "created" the FHRITP thing defending it. Link goes to news story, not his video.

Video may be NSFHumans.
posted by nubs at 11:41 AM on May 14, 2015


On the other hand, there was that piece around here a few months back on folks cleaning up their social media accounts when call-out culture has maaaaybe gone around the bend

Well, if we're going to discuss Ronson's take on call-out culture, I don't think we can avoid discussing the question of gender either. Once in a while, when a story like this comes up, men get fired. But every time -- every single time -- when a woman is in the sites, she is treated to years of rape and death threats.

The issue with Justine Sacco is not simply that she made some stupid comments on Twitter and lost her job for it. The issue is that she became an international target. The issue with Lindsey Stone is not that she posed for a thoughtless photograph, it's that her shamers literally destroyed her life.

By comparison, Jonah Lehrer? He was made fun of Twitter, which was projected behind him while he gave a speech at the Knight Foundation, which paid him $20k. He currently has a book deal with Simon & Schuster.

The issue isn't that public shaming causes people to lose their job. It's that it is so often targeted at women, and destroys their life.

That is not the circumstance we are discussing here.
posted by maxsparber at 11:41 AM on May 14, 2015 [21 favorites]


The company I work for has a Business Code of Conduct that outlines the sort of things I'm allowed to discuss about the company online (including on my personal social media accounts). I agreed to the Code of Conduct as part of my employment agreement. If I were to violate that, I shouldn't be surprised if I got fired.

We need to eliminate codes of conduct like this.

All these agreements operate under the fiction that employers and employees are two free individuals entering into a balanced relationship. They are not - especially for the working poor. You take a job because you need to eat now, and you sign that agreement because you have no other choice. It is a contract made under duress.

As for everyone telling me such & such right doesn't exist - well, then it bloody should. Why is everyone so accepting of the current, pro-employer status quo?
posted by jb at 11:41 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why is everyone so accepting of the current, pro-employer status quo?

That seems a slanted way of putting it. I suppose my response would be: Why are you okay with forcing employees to work with people who have abused women in their time off?
posted by maxsparber at 11:42 AM on May 14, 2015 [23 favorites]


Why is everyone so accepting of the current, pro-employer status quo?

I don't think it's "pro-employer" if the employer has the right to protect her other employees by firing someone who has a history of gendered harassment and assault. I think removing that protection would be anti-employee.
posted by KathrynT at 11:49 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Why are you okay with forcing employees to work with people who have abused women in their time off?

So should this guy not be permitted to work anywhere that has more than one employee ever again?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:52 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


So should this guy not be permitted to work anywhere ever again?

He hasn't shown an ounce of contrition. Until he does, should I be forced to hire him? Should anybody in this thread be forced to work with him? Why does his rights supersede ours?
posted by maxsparber at 11:53 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's not about the guy being "not permitted to work," it's about people being permitted to choose not to hire him.
posted by KathrynT at 11:54 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's not about the guy being "not permitted to work," it's about people being permitted to choose not to hire him.

There's this comment upthread that implies that anywhere he's permitted to continue working is automatically a hostile work environment, regardless whether any of these behaviors occur in said work environment, solely because of what he's done off the clock. If that were true, he'd be completely unemployable.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:57 AM on May 14, 2015


So what if most companies choose not to employ him because of the harassing, threatening behavior he exhibited?
posted by erratic meatsack at 12:00 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe he is unemployable. I've never worked with him; he didn't represent himself very well recently as a potential employee. There's a guy down the street who exposes himself to women who pass him. Pretty sure he hasn't worked in a decade. Seems fair to me.
posted by maxsparber at 12:02 PM on May 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


"Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" certainly cuts both ways if you're an asshole.
posted by griphus at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


"Assuming he was not wearing branded clothing of his employer at the time."

Shawn Simoes was wearing an Arsenal jersey when he was interviewed during this segment.

The link to his player profile which shows this has been removed since this story broke.

(Yes. Ontario hydro companies have their own soccer league. Who knew prior to this?)

HydroSoccer has taken down a ton of content in the aftermath of this event. But the jersey he wears for his Hydro Soccer team resembles the Arsenal jersey as well. If they ever put the images back up again you could see that.

I think a couple things piled up in a row to make it much easier to fire this charming individual.

a) He is on what is known as the "sunshine list" which lists public sector workers (Hydro One is counted as being in the public sector, and receives provincial tax benefits) who earn $100k or more per year. The longer that list gets, the angrier voters tend to be about it. (Your tax dollars being blown on oversized salaries paid to "fat-cats".)

b) MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the owners of the TFC team) posted on Twitter that they felt this behavior was not acceptable on their premises (BMO Field), and would be investigating video so they could contact and ban anyone who engaged in this behavior on their property. This looks bad to families who want to take their kids to watch our (losing) Soccer team play.

c) If Hydro One instead chose NOT to fire him, eventually people down the road would make a statement like this: "Oh yeah didn't they employ that guy who yelled FHRITP on TV?"

You can't "choose" Hydro One as your power provider, and that reputation will stick.

Who wants that kind of brand recognition for these kinds of events?

Ignoring for a moment that this activity actively stops journalists from (you know) doing their job, it just looks bad for everything surrounding the moment. Nobody would want any long term affiliation with a goon who can't seem to grab the reins in public.

ad
posted by adamd1 at 12:15 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


If that were true, he'd be completely unemployable.

LOTS of things can make someone completely unemployable whether or not they do them on the clock. The substitute teacher in my school district who was recently arrested for having gigabytes and gigabytes of child porn? Pretty sure he's not going to work again. Does your heart bleed for him too?
posted by KathrynT at 12:18 PM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ah, the old Bush Dilemma.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:26 PM on May 14, 2015


I'm glad this manchild got canned; football hooliganism in Canada, you're doing it wrong.

Yet another couple of reasons that HydroOne would want to be shot of this one, apart from the obvious:
  • utilities are very sensitive over anything to do with drunkenness. They've lost too many lives, and endangered too many of the public, through on-the-job drinking
  • there's likely a "conduct unbecoming" clause in the employment contract that could lead to termination
  • The province is frantically hawking half of HydroOne on Bay St right now in order to pay for the Darlington nuclear expansion better transit for all, and the wrong kind of news could mean a buyer taking cold feet.
posted by scruss at 12:37 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


For the first 15 years of The Internet, people got used to being able to be anonymous jerks with little repercussions. Now that culture is more video, and "real-names" based, they are coming up against the de-anonymization of their jerkiness. This trend is fascinating to watch, and fine with me.
posted by jetsetsc at 12:43 PM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


I don't think it's "pro-employer" if the employer has the right to protect her other employees by firing someone who has a history of gendered harassment and assault. I think removing that protection would be anti-employee.

Here's my problem: I agree with this. BUT if you change the employee's history to certain other things, like say for example "donating to Planned Parenthood" then I don't agree with it. And there are definitely employers out there who would love to fire people for that, and I want those people to keep their jobs.

Not that donating to planned parenthood and what this guy did are on the same level, but that really wouldn't slow some people down.
posted by dogwalker at 1:27 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


You already can't fire someone because of their gender. We can pass laws to protect employees for things that need protecting, but leave employers still able to fire employees for harassing strangers on television.
posted by maxsparber at 1:30 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


BUT if you change the employee's history to certain other things, like say for example "donating to Planned Parenthood" then I don't agree with it.

Yes, that's true, if you change the subject under discussion, then the subject under discussion changes and so do people's feelings about it. Different things are different.
posted by KathrynT at 1:32 PM on May 14, 2015 [36 favorites]


That's true, but to some people here it's clearly the same subject of just "firing someone for actions outside work."

Not sure if I'm one of those people, but I can see/understand the opinion.
posted by dogwalker at 1:40 PM on May 14, 2015


I also understand the opinion about broad sweeping implications for society as a whole, but it's dismissive to bring broad sweeping thing into this specific instance regarding harassment of women. The reason for this is because every single time some man somewhere sees consequences (in whatever way) for the shitty way he treats women, people act as though the sky is going to fall next and we're all minutes away from anarchy.

Someone always has to bring up a version of "WELL WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HUMANKIND?"

It means him and other assholes like him start learning that shit doesn't fly anymore. That's it. That's what THIS story means. You want to talk about implications of posting articles about your company? Or unsavory consequences of talking to other employees about your workplace? Go ahead! You want to make some sort of parallel with this particular situation? That ain't happening, because as KathrynT said, different things are different.
posted by erratic meatsack at 2:02 PM on May 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


Someone always has to bring up a version of "WELL WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HUMANKIND?"

It's just another face of the old "how dare you be intolerant of the intolerant" schtick. False equivalences and slippery slopes arguments are classic weapons in the anti-SJ arsenal.
posted by kmz at 2:10 PM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


it's dismissive to bring broad sweeping thing into this specific instance regarding harassment of women.

One of the main links in the fpp is to a radio show (podcast?) that spends a decent amount of time discussing the larger scale implications of "whether it's okay to fire someone for their off-duty behaviour, however boorish it might be."

I honestly wasn't trying to be dismissive but can see how it appears that way, and I probably shouldn't have fed into that.
posted by dogwalker at 2:28 PM on May 14, 2015


That's true, but to some people here it's clearly the same subject of just "firing someone for actions outside work."

Here's the thing. No reasonable person (yes, I am making a statement that strong) believes that employers should never be able to fire you for actions taken outside of work. Again, imagine the teacher downloading kiddie porn. I venture further that no reasonable person believes that an employer should be required to wait until a person is convicted to do said firing.

On the other hand, I don't think it's reasonable to think (and I think most people here don't think it's reasonable) that people in jobs where this is not directly relevant should be fired for donating money to planned parenthood, or publicly supporting a political candidate. Even here there are likely some exceptions.

So what we've come to is that some actions outside of work should be fireable and some actions outside of work should not. Wouldn't it be more productive to talk about how we can reasonably and fairly distinguish one from the other than to make blanket statements about "people shouldn't be fired for things outside of work" that nobody, not even the people making the statements, actually believes?

Here are some things that I think separate one category from another. THis is off the cuff, so they would likely require tweaking before I would agree with them, even though I'm posting them:

1. Actions that are required for social citizenship should not be firable.

2. Actions that could constitute a criminal act should be firable.

3. Actions taken in defence of oneself should not be firable.

4. Actions that amount to whistleblowing should not be firable.

5. Actions that are not "should not be firable for some other reason" (e.g. self-defence, social citizenship) may be firable if they result in the employee acting against the interests of the employer.

6. Some actions typically required for social-citizenship might be firable if they are directly relevant to the job -- e.g. the campaign manager for candidate A can be fired for publicly endorsing Candidate B.

So, that's my shot at the question of firing for actions outside of work. Does it work? Where doesn't it work?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:30 PM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


You want to make some sort of parallel with this particular situation? That ain't happening

This really isn't your call, and it's disingenuous to act like the question of what exactly constitutes just cause for termination is not at all relevant to the discussion when it absolutely is.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:00 PM on May 14, 2015


call-out culture has maaaaybe gone around the bend.

Does everyone accusing this dude of harassment and worse understand that the man who lost his job is NOT the "fuck ... pussy" shouter? He's the "it's fucking hilarious" guy, who thinks it's fucking hilarious but in no way assaulted anyone, at least not while on video.
posted by sfenders at 3:09 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


*hand up* I did! I even brought it up earlier.

So let me add to my list of principles:

7. Actions that indicate that the employee is not actually qualified for the job may also be firable.

8. Actions that suggest a high likelihood of bad behaviour on the job may also be firable.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:14 PM on May 14, 2015


Very few laws are one-size fits all. Both Canada and the USA have highly nuanced laws for both speech and employment. In the USA at least, this seems to be the whole reason the Supreme Court exists.
posted by beaning at 3:19 PM on May 14, 2015


This really isn't your call, and it's disingenuous to act like the question of what exactly constitutes just cause for termination is not at all relevant to the discussion when it absolutely is.
posted by one more dead town's last parade


Or maybe that's your (IMO wrongheaded) call? People defending their right to discuss slippery slope big picture hypotheticals in threads about women's specific ordeals sure feels dismissive. There's a lot of background to it, because it happens again and again. Rape charges? Let's discuss what it means to innocent men. Employment termination? Let's discuss what it means to people who are in a different job/location/scenario. What all this casual theorizing does is give weight to the idea that the actual problem itself doesn't matter, so much as how it affects the obviously innocent people who will come after.

Otherwise let's talk details - does this specific situation constitutes just cause for termination?
posted by erratic meatsack at 3:27 PM on May 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Does everyone accusing this dude of harassment and worse understand that the man who lost his job is NOT the "fuck ... pussy" shouter? He's the "it's fucking hilarious" guy, who thinks it's fucking hilarious but in no way assaulted anyone, at least not while on video.

Yes, I'm aware. I'm also aware that he's the one who said that the reporter was lucky that nobody had stuck a fucking vibrator in her ear, which counts as sexual harassment in my book.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 3:34 PM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


he's the one who said that the reporter was lucky that nobody had stuck a fucking vibrator in her ear, which counts as sexual harassment in my book.

It's literally a reference to another incident which is, as it's come up in here several times, at least semiwell known and fairly well-known indeed to people who follow soccer. Which is where she was, at a soccer game. In the context of the situation, I see it as a 'remember when, that was so much worse', not a 'we're sizing up your ear canal for a dildo'.

And that said, I'm still ok with him getting fired. I just wish the original guy was MORE fired.
posted by taterpie at 3:45 PM on May 14, 2015


To me, the problem isn't so much that this guy will lose his job over non-work-related actions. The problem is that it's probably the only punishment he's going to receive.
If he had a more forgiving employer he would likely face no repercussions at all.

We need better laws against boorish harassment so we're not reliant on employers to police morals for us.
posted by rocket88 at 3:45 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The problem is that it's probably the only punishment he's going to receive.

Apparently he's also actually banned for life from all MSLE team stadiums. Which includes The Leafs, which should upset NO hockey fan, but it might. He is Canadian after all.
posted by taterpie at 3:47 PM on May 14, 2015


Or maybe that's your (IMO wrongheaded) call?

Given that it was brought up in the text of the OP and one of the links therein (The Current's "whether it's okay to fire someone for their off-duty behaviour, however boorish it might be"), I would say it's wrongheaded to say we can't talk about it.

How do you propose they talk to someone who isn't in a scenario that's at least slightly different without talking to the guy who was fired or the manager who did the firing, neither of whom is talking to the media?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:49 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's literally a reference to another incident which is, as it's come up in here several times, at least semiwell known and fairly well-known indeed to people who follow soccer.

I'm aware that it was a reference to another situation. Still qualified as harassment to me.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 3:51 PM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm glad that the sort of people who find shit like this funny had better educations and have (well, had) better jobs than me. Now I can be a real martyr.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:54 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Filmmaker John Cain, creator of the FHRITP meme, must be weeping tears of fatherly joy upon witnessing how much coverage his fake-meme has received. Its received enough attention that its, in fact, become a real-meme.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:54 PM on May 14, 2015


I am totally okay with this guy getting fired. Why? Because I care not a whit that he wasn't on the job; what I do care about that over half the time, this continues to happen everywhere with no consequences. And when there are no consequences, this means behaviour like this is normalized. If you don't want him fired, okay fine whatever, but at the very least he needs to face some sort of disciplinary action. Because by letting it slide or saying "boys will be boys," you're also saying, "Jeez, get over it, ladies, we all do stupid shit." Only that stupid shit happens to us all the damned time.

So your point is that it is ok because you don't like him.

The weird thing is that you can change "fired" to "executed" and your argument still has the same merit. You are ok with it because you don't like what he did.

I think this dude is a douche, but if we allow employers to take this kind of action, then you are OPENING yourself up for getting fired because you say some non-banhammer worthy, but still shameful stuff.

"Did you log onto metafilter, and say that the front page would be 'gay' if they did junebyqueer? Well you are just fired".



Douchebags are douchebags, and they will always exist, but don't forget that they are part of your rank and file. Allow their income to be harmed, and you open yourself up for that kind of junk to.

I'd rather he was arrested for public indecency, and then fined $10K by FCC or the equivalent in Canada. That would stop that behavior right quick.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:01 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


We need better laws against boorish harassment so we're not reliant on employers to police morals for us.

They are only the police if we let them. Otherwise, they are just ordinary citizens who are drawing a greater benefit from your labor than you are.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:02 PM on May 14, 2015


The text of the OP? You mean where it says "This morning's The Current on CBC Radio One discusses whether or not this sort of activity should be and/or can be punished when said person is not actually on the job"? Does "this sort of activity" mean "other kinds of activity" and I didn't get the memo?

Here's the bit in the actual article:

"The whole episode, which is being followed by millions around the world, raises some important questions about the kinds of behaviour women face on the job ... and whether it's okay to fire someone for their off-duty behaviour, however boorish it might be."

See, I was under the impression that we're still discussing the kinds of behavior women face on the job and whether it's okay to fire someone for that off-duty behavior.

Regardless of that, you can do whatever the fuck you want. What I'm saying is that it's insensitive to try to reframe this issue (which is 99% focused on this one woman's story) into handwringing about Employment with a capital E. I'm not silencing anyone here - I'm saying it's a dismissive tactic that we see all the time when it comes to issues women face.

It's up to you if you think that doesn't matter.
posted by erratic meatsack at 4:04 PM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


whether it's okay to fire someone for that off-duty behavior

One of the questions raised in The Current's blurb (the part I quoted to you), as well as in the discussion, is what behavior is OK to fire someone for; when does it cross the line? Are you saying this isn't a fair topic for discussion in the thread despite having been part of the thread since its creation? Because that is actually a dismissive tactic.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:16 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


theorique: But there's certainly precedent for people being let go as PR liabilities (see also: Adria Richards in the "donglegate" situation)

Well after the fact, I maintain termination of Adria Richards in that context was inappropriate, plainly retaliatory and an illustrative example of when and how a company policing their employees extracurricular behaviours can become problematic. (Specifically, for those unfamiliar, Richards quoted some folks public remarks at an industry event and took a photo which she then shared via Twitter.)

The situation under discussion here is unobjectionable to me as it is not a situation where I perceive termination for an extracurricular activity as problematic -- anyone who works with him could easily come to feel sexually harassed by his public behaviour and authority and standards for protecting employees from sexual harassment are rather well established in North America (including, typically, employer provided training).

If he called up any of his co-workers and made the same statement he made publicly it would plainly be harassment; because he engaged a form of mass media to transmit his message to as many people as indiscriminately as possible he might as well have addressed it directly to co-workers. Conversely, if he had held a poetry reading in a local theatre/bar/bookstore and advised coworkers he had an upcoming performance but that some of the performance might be contain objectionable content which could cause them to feel uncomfortable, no matter how senseless his remark, I think in that context it should be protected.

Anyhow, this is provisional thinking as I try to map what boundaries makes sense to me.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 4:18 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


So your point is that it is ok because you don't like him.

The weird thing is that you can change "fired" to "executed" and your argument still has the same merit. You are ok with it because you don't like what he did.

I think this dude is a douche, but if we allow employers to take this kind of action, then you are OPENING yourself up for getting fired because you say some non-banhammer worthy, but still shameful stuff.

Douchebags are douchebags, and they will always exist, but don't forget that they are part of your rank and file. Allow their income to be harmed, and you open yourself up for that kind of junk to.


Well given that I have never said anything gross to a woman on live TV and as a woman, he is mostly definitely not part of my rank and file, you are welcome to think that I am calling for his head on a pike. I am not, but I am advocating for his actions to have consequences. If it so happens that it costs him his cushy job, so be it.
posted by Kitteh at 5:06 PM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]




Are you saying this isn't a fair topic for discussion in the thread despite having been part of the thread since its creation? Because that is actually a dismissive tactic.

I might be in bizarro world because I feel like I'm just repeating myself - which might be a sign I need to let go of this thread: there's this thing some people do where when an action is taken against a man for behavior towards a woman, the first thing they jump to is not concern for the woman or empathy for her situation, but concern for the man and his future prospects. We certainly saw it in this thread, where some people felt very strongly that the man in question should continue to have employment opportunities open to him regardless of his behavior. It was implied very strongly, and very often, that "they could be coming for you next" and we must defend assholes if we believe in the greater good.

That stuff is vile.

What I'm trying to relay here, however (un)successfully, is that going down this line of thinking and encouraging debates about slippery slopes trivializes the woman's position.

I don't really know what you're trying to convey to me by repeating "Well the discussion is right there!" - I'm saying engaging with this reasoning is damaging bullshit.
posted by erratic meatsack at 5:11 PM on May 14, 2015 [24 favorites]


So three weeks ago here in Calgary, a CBC reporter was doing a story on sexual harassment during the Red Mile celebrations after playoff hockey games, when - believably - some jagoff screamed the phrase under discussion here at her from a truck driving by. There should be some sort of prize for managing to treat Lewis' Law as if it were a LARP.

Today, it turns out there is a prize for this behaviour; the jagoff in question has been charged by Calgary police for "stunting" (under the motor vehicles act, since it took place from a moving vehicle). So that's at least a little awesome.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:21 PM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


That the discussion here devolved into an employment discussion is just another symbol of the problem. The real problem is that these men who harass women feel empowered to do so because other men either do nothing, or worse, take joy in their actions. Moving the conversation away from the topic of harassment is sort of like the guys who stand around passively while some joker says vile things to a woman. That some find the bigger issue to be employment and not harassment speaks volumes.
posted by caddis at 6:13 PM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Well after the fact, I maintain termination of Adria Richards in that context was inappropriate, plainly retaliatory and an illustrative example of when and how a company policing their employees extracurricular behaviours can become problematic.

If I recall correctly, she was let go because chans and Anonymous were slamming SendGrid, her employer, with DDOS attacks, and she was becoming a liability to their business. You could certainly argue that while the fuse for the whole drama may have been lit by her tweet, the chaos that ensued was not really "her fault". (Also, a PR person who becomes the story is a serious problem.)
posted by theorique at 6:14 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is no slippery slope here. The employers already have all the power and aren't afraid to use it. People at my work place are routinely dismissed for non work actions like staying out past midnight on a work night.

oving the conversation away from the topic of harassment is sort of like the guys who stand around passively while some joker says vile things to a woman

Well I'm pretty sure no one on metafilter is pro harassment so that is why no discussion on that point.
posted by Mitheral at 6:31 PM on May 14, 2015


That some find the bigger issue to be employment and not harassment speaks volumes.

Since my original comment in this thread is likely being read that way, I'll say that just because I didn't comment on the harassment doesn't mean I think it's less important. I realise that sounds dumb, but I actually felt like nothing I could say on that topic was better or smarter than anything that has already been said here.

I felt the general employment discussion was inbounds because it was covered in the original content of the post (and had been the last thing I consumed as it was audio, so fresh in my mind). So while I didn't really have anything terribly smart to say, I also felt that some interesting thoughts were being brought up by both sides and wanted to think about that more.

But yeah, I can see how that could be viewed as part of a larger tendency to divert discussion, despite it starting in the original post here.
posted by dogwalker at 6:57 PM on May 14, 2015


She's a national fucking hero at this point. Her job is secure.

I'm reaching back ten hours here but I think it's really important to point out that her job is not, in fact, secure. One of the biggest problems for me with these incidents is that they interfere with a woman's ability to do her job. Regular old street harassment can be annoying or terrifying, and is awful. But these assholes shouting at the camera in a very real way make it impossible for female reporters to do their jobs.

Shauna Hunt may be a national treasure at this point, and she may be eminently hireable. But if her producers sent her to do a remote and she consistently fails to get broadcast able tape? She'll get canned. It doesn't matter if it's not her fault that she can't get a segment they can show, at some point a producer has to send someone out who can.

That's the real injustice here. It's about--it's always about!--limiting women's use of public space, keeping us from thinking we can have important jobs or a public platform from which to speak, keeping us in our place.
posted by looli at 7:37 PM on May 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


That's a fair response, and it would have been more effective for me to have expanded what I meant.

Her job is secure from her employer, and from her public support. She may feel, rightly, that her job is insecure/may not want to do her job anymore, because this could happen again tomorrow. My fault for shorthanding instead of expanding what I intended.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:42 PM on May 14, 2015


People defending their right to discuss slippery slope big picture hypotheticals in threads about women's specific ordeals sure feels dismissive. There's a lot of background to it, because it happens again and again.

There's a bunch of misogynistic behavior that society is, finally, starting to agree should be censured. And so we need to figure out exactly what stick should be used for that censure and who should get to wield it. Because historically, whenever you create a new stick, it is disproportionately used to hit the poor, minorities, and women. So yes, we sometimes need to consider the broader consequences of how we censure misogyny.

But the issue here is that this isn't a new stick. Employers have always been able to fire employees for public behavior that transgresses community standards in ways that bring dishonor to the company. The only question is whether this particular behavior is a legitimate reason to fire someone. And I think several people have already made a good case that, yes this is a legitimate firing offense.
posted by straight at 7:49 PM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


dogwalker: Since my original comment in this thread is likely being read that way, I'll say that just because I didn't comment on the harassment doesn't mean I think it's less important. I realise that sounds dumb, but I actually felt like nothing I could say on that topic was better or smarter than anything that has already been said here.

Not dumb at all! Man I feel that way a lot when it comes to certain topics. I wanted to post one more time to say that I completely understand where you're coming from.

I'd like to make a suggestion though, that you're of course free to disregard: when it comes to issues like this, even though you think it should be obvious you stand in support of the woman in question and want to discuss another aspect of a story, maybe state it anyway. I think it really helps. There's a huge gulf between how these two posts begin:

"I think the resolution in this specific situation makes sense for [REASONS]. Here's why I think it wouldn't work in a different scenario though, so I hope other scenarios have different resolutions."

"In a different scenario this same thing occurring would be bad. I'm going to discuss [DIFFERENT SCENARIO]."


Shifting focus like that unfortunately implies that you find one thing more important than the other, and it's only because a lot of people shift focus on purpose, or play devil's advocate as some sort of intellectual game they have no skin in.

Anyway, food for thought.
posted by erratic meatsack at 9:05 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I used to work for a crown corporation and also for the government. I had to take an oath of public service. Everybody talked about this oath and how you had to remember that you couldn't screw around, because you might get fired for not showing allegiance to the Crown. This public service statute outlines some of what you're expected to do.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:50 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


We are using shame as a form of social control.

Interestingly, Ronson is channeling one of the earliest insights of sociology, particularly as it applies to crime - that of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft.

So far as it pertains to law and order, Tonnies (and Weber, and durkheim, too, though he didn't favour the term as much), less 'developed' societies relied on 'gemeinschaft', essentially way of maintaining social order that is community-based, as opposed to more blatantly law based (gesellschaft).

In the former, most people know each other, or know of each other. This places a greater emphasis on name, reputation, face, and norms are enforced community-wide. Shame plays a huge role as a stabiliser and enforcer of norms, and exclusion is a punishment, culminating some form of banishment, which is literally the worst thing that can happen to you, and may be actually life-threatening. Punishment also falls onto those with relations to you, so there is a very strong social incentive to enforce and adhere to norms.

He (and Weber, and Durkheim, in their own ways) postulates that we moved beyond this as cities developed, because in cramped urban environments with huge numbers of people, enforcement through norms becomes increasingly difficult. It is easier to hide things in the city; banishment doesn't matter, you just move to a different neighborhood; your relatives may not have visibility or understanding of your actions and punishing them would be unfair. Cities are also more heterogeneous; values and norms are not necessarily shared or valued the same way. Self policing is much harder. So we end up with laws, and codes and tables of punishments and fines and jail instead of shame and exclusion.

Obviously, these states are never pristine and mix and do not capture the farrago of human behaviour, but I do find it interesting, how the internet has enabled this particular aspect of gemeinschaft.

I can't help wondering if it is, in a way, a response to the failures of gesellschaft as conceived by Tonnies et al - punishments by the law are ever so mutable, according to privilege, inertia, or sheer apathy, ignorance and obliviousness.

In the face of such immunity perhaps we return to community-based enforcement of norms, and exclusion, shame, banishment does become - temporarily at least - the most, perhaps the only, effective way we have of keeping society running smoothly, of maintaining norms. Social media transforms the city into the village, more than that it takes the stranger back into the lounge room, part of your tribe or family. Like the village, secrets are much harder to keep.

I am, of course, doing a grave disservice to these concepts - and eliding completely the many issues they have (look at how well gemeinschaft works in cases of abuse in small communities, for example). But I do think it's well worth taking a zoom out here, and looking not just at what is driving these recessive yahoos to harrass women, but why public shaming and firing etc is happening, and how it has happened before.
posted by smoke at 5:28 AM on May 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I agree that the employment rights angle shouldn't be the main point of this story. But it's unfair to accuse those who are discussing it of "making it all about the men". I get that that happens often and even happens here on MeFi, but in this case the FPP was framed that way* so it was very much on-topic. And very few commenters addressed the job loss issue without also strongly condemning the initiating act.
In my case employment rights and sexual harassment are both things I feel very strongly about so this had me wrestling with my own convictions a bit. I support his firing for this specific act but remain concerned about the expanding powers of employers in general. Call that a slippery slope argument if you want, but that's only because some slopes are actually slippery.

*(I blame the CBC and other media, since that's the only angle they took on this story, and it infuriated me when I heard the radio show yesterday. I would have preferred a panel discussion of how these idiots came to be the way they are...how a civilized society and a public education system could churn out so many idiotic young men without educating them that this behavior and attitude is unacceptable. It boggles my mind.)
posted by rocket88 at 7:55 AM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


We are using shame as a form of social control.

Which was ever thus. The thing is that what kind of society is trying to be created through the enforcement of that control - in the past, the shame was being cast upon the women themselves for dressing a certain way/being unmarried/having sex/being out of the house unaccompanied/etc., whereas now the shame is being cast upon the men for not respecting women's autonomy.

People seem to not have recognized that difference, which is still quite a sea change.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:58 AM on May 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hit "post" too soon - I actually don't have a problem with a moderate degree of "social media shaming" - doxxing someone is shitty, but a crap-ton of people saying "dude, you're a jerk" I have no problem with. Because I know how well that works (and I can submit my account of "ways that being raised Catholic impacted my sexual self-expression in my teens and early 20's" as Exhibits A through G).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:00 AM on May 15, 2015


rocket88: since that's the only angle they took on this story

I saw a lot of coverage of this story from multiple angles, before it got to this point. Heck, the sports networks covered it from day one, both from a "this is what our reporters have to put up with, and we don't like it" to "waiting to hear what BMO Field may do to keep these idiots away". So there have been multiple angles taken in various reports.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:25 AM on May 15, 2015


This just in (well, yesterday): Calgary police charged a man for yelling the phrase at a reporter- he was in his car so they charged him with "stunting" under the motor vehicle act. Article.
posted by beau jackson at 9:48 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't like the idea of people being fired. It doesn't fit the offense. They should be charged with harassment, and punished accordingly.

We may happen to agree that this behaviour is inappropriate and offensive, but what happens when an employer starts claiming that publically discussing company abuses or draconian policies is "damaging to the brand"? Or supporting the wrong political party is "against their behavioural code."


This is what we call "the last hundred years of the way the world already is." As Mithreal says above, this is the norm. This is how this power over other people's lives gets used constantly every single day. When a person finds themselves wondering "man, will this legal behavior get me canned if someone finds out" they are almost always thinking of things that DON'T involve screaming gendered obscenities. They are thinking of joining a support group or using the health care benefits they receive as compensation for their labor or trying to organize anti-gentrification efforts or marching or cohabitating with the person they love or getting pregnant or or or or.

So slippery slope concerns that ignore that fact are amazingly wrong-headed. This is not someone picking up a cudgel for the first time and laying about at someone just going about their life off-work. This is one of the many cudgels already lying around, smeared with the blood of the innocent, being picked up and for a change being used in something more closely resembling justice. This is the cudgel that got a teen girl suspended for a day because she dared to make her letter pushing back on sexist dress codes public, repurposed.

If you want to talk about how this isn't the ideal and it's not how people should have to live, absolutely I agree. But after decades of eroding personal liberties and deferring to employer discretion - and in particular erosion regarding things about employers and their female employees' bodies - we're now going to get concerned about the use of this power over something like this? That's gross.
posted by phearlez at 10:38 AM on May 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Social media transforms the city into the village

Also, the cyborgization of WERID societies has radically expanded human memory and information-gathering.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:45 AM on May 15, 2015


I think it's way-okay to not want to hire certain people who do (arguably) illegal, horrible things in their private lives. If I can keep from hiring them in the first place, I would have no problem firing them, either.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:52 AM on May 15, 2015


Exactly, SpacemanStix. I hire people, not some nebulous definition of "employee". This is not the kind of person I'd want working for me and I'd have to do a review of my hiring practices to make sure I didn't make the same hiring mistake in the future.
posted by Revvy at 12:04 PM on May 15, 2015


That raises an interesting point. Those of you who have argued that the employer shouldn't have fired him for off-work activities - do you also feel that employers should not be asking whether job applicants have ever been convicted of felonies when they're conducting their hiring process?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:12 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


do you also feel that employers should not be asking whether job applicants have ever been convicted of felonies when they're conducting their hiring process?

Yes! If it's not going to call your ability to do your job properly into question, it shouldn't be considered.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:39 PM on May 15, 2015


You're just eliding the question of what "calls your ability to do your job properly into question" means though - most folks might agree that a criminal history or poor impulse control really do indicate poor employee potential.
posted by dialetheia at 1:44 PM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


The nature of your history matters, though. If you're working with cash, it's reasonable for an employer to care about previous theft convictions. It's less reasonable for them to care about a reckless driving conviction.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:50 PM on May 15, 2015


The fact remains, it's the law of the land that they can take that into account.

Would anyone like to join me in discussing what happened to Shauna Hunt instead?
posted by dialetheia at 1:55 PM on May 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


it's the law of the land that they can take that into account.

And that's really why I think the parallel is worth considering. There's pushback on the idea that private lives should have any impact on current employment, or to qualify it in some sense based on the type of work being done. But if I'm allowed to legally discriminate before hiring based on the fact that someone has done something illegal/sexist/harassing (as employers should be able to), I have zero qualms about making a decision on the same issues to decide if someone is likewise fit to continue working there, for all of the reasons it would have called their ability or trustworthiness into question in the first place.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:06 PM on May 15, 2015


It's less reasonable for them to care about a reckless driving conviction.

Why? A reckless driving conviction demonstrates poor judgement, poor impulse control, disregard for the safety of others, a sense that the rules don't apply to them, an inability to foresee the consequences of one's actions, and a number of other character issues that would be issues in many kinds of jobs.

Would anyone like to join me in discussing what happened to Shauna Hunt instead?

THe problem is that there's not much to discuss. EVERYONE thinks it's awful. Having person after person come in here and say "That really sucks. What a jackass." isn't much of a discussion.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:38 PM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]




it's the law of the land that they can take that into account.

Not in Ontario, actually. It is illegal to ask prospective employees about criminal history. The closest they can come is to ask if someone is bondable. Which, in effect, is the same question a lot of the time--however, AFAIK, bondability is only at issue if the conviction was financial/theft-related. I think. I could very well be wrong on that point.

(Because of my first kitchen experience, working as a regular employee in a restaurant that did a whole Thing about hiring convicts, every. single. time. someone sees my resume I get to watch them dancing around trying to ask without asking.)

(thank goodness I previewed) damn you nubs, I was just about to link that!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:48 PM on May 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


damn you nubs, I was just about to link that!

At times like this I always wonder - is it GMTA (great minds think alike) or FSD (fools seldom differ)?
posted by nubs at 2:59 PM on May 15, 2015


Perhaps the great mind posted before the fool could catch up!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:09 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why? A reckless driving conviction demonstrates poor judgement, poor impulse control, disregard for the safety of others, a sense that the rules don't apply to them, an inability to foresee the consequences of one's actions, and a number of other character issues that would be issues in many kinds of jobs.

FWIW, a reckless driving conviction here in my state simply means you were driving 20 miles over the speed limit, or over 80... regardless of the speed limit there. So get pinched for 80 in a 70 and its reckless.
posted by phearlez at 11:12 AM on May 16, 2015


FWIW, a reckless driving conviction here in my state simply means you were driving 20 miles over the speed limit, or over 80... regardless of the speed limit there. So get pinched for 80 in a 70 and its reckless.

I didn't know that. In Canada reckless driving is a criminal offense, not a traffic offence. And it's a pretty serious one as there are two lesser offences (careless driving and dangerous driving) for being dangerous with a car but not quite as dangerous. So it was that offence that I was referring to, not a traffic ticket.

Not that I think going 20 over the speed limit is ok (in fact, I think it indicates that which I've listed above but to a lesser degree).
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:17 AM on May 16, 2015


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