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  • R H
  • Chicago, IL
  • United States


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Employer's 'Codes of Conduct' are violations of my civil rights

I recently worked with a Fortune 25 corp and had to sign a 'code of conduct' as a condition of employment. In it, it stated (effectively) 'employees conduct is a reflection of the company both on and off the job, therefore employees must conduct themselves in a manner representing the company at all times'. I felt this violated my civil rights. I felt that I was hired to perform a task, to a job, and that my life is my own. The employer (ostensibly) felt that to work there was a choice, not a demand, and this is their condition of employment if I should 'choose' to work there. My conduct is my business - especially 'off' the job. I am not a slave. I am not 'owned'. My actions are not 'owned', and I cannot be 'discarded' because I may or may not have personal values that mirror my employers. Employment is 'at will', I agree. But losing my job because of my conduct at home is a violation of my civil rights.


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    May 23 2013: It probably isn't a violation of your rights as you sign the employment contract voluntarily. It doesn't make good business sense though. Anything that potentially limits the pool of possible employees for reasons not directly related to job performance wil in the end make your company less successful.
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      R H 30+

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      May 24 2013: Very interesting perspective, and one I'd agree with wholeheartedly. We can always find ways/reasons to be more 'comfortable' with colleagues, but more often than not a really great candidate for a specific position may not share our values and/or interests, and may even be personally active in them. This other point of 'voluntary' employment is echoed throughout the majority of the responses. I seem to be having trouble articulating my problem with this - strictly academically, so let me try again from another direction: If we transport ourselves back to the early 1900's, we could say that we have it as company policy that we don't hire minorities, women, orientals, jews/catholics/buddhists, homosexuals, etc. If someone claimed to be neither of those yet subsequently was discovered to be so, we could've fired them. We stated our policy upfront, and they effectively 'lied' on the application. This was justified as employment is 'voluntary'. Since then, the courts have determined that these are 'civil rights', that employment is a 'separate' consideration in freedom, and that denying employment based on such 'civil rights' is against the law. I am taking that 'train of thought' to the next step of 'what I do at home is also a civil right - to privacy and the 1st amendment' and should be against the law to consider in employment. 'Codes of Conduct' by major employers are too vague and arbitrary as to extend 'into this territory' of personal freedom - in my opinion. Although it's true and obvious that deciding to work for a particular employer is 'voluntary', my point is that, just like in the early 1900's, if I'm the most qualified candidate, 'excluding' my civil rights as described above should not be in the agreement in the first place, nor a justifiable consideration. Thank you for participating in this conversation debate.

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