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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 19 2013: Chris,

      In my opinion,
      You've won the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.
      Thank you.

      Whiner was the word that first came to my mind as I read the Debate topic.
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        R H 30+

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        May 19 2013: HI Frank, thanks for responding. please see response to Chris...
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      R H 30+

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      May 19 2013: Alright. Thanks for responding. I absolutely take responsibility for my actions. And that's just it, they're my actions. How does exercising my privacy and personal freedom, that so many have died to protect, equal 'not taking responsibility'? A contract of employment is only that too - an agreement to perform a task for a certain return. My personal life is not beholden to the other party, nor does it have anything to do with our contractual relationship. So I take it you prefer that 'someone else' dictate your personal life. No whining now...
      • May 19 2013: R H in response to your response to Chris.
        The thing in the closet has had no say in your argument.
        The Employer.
        The other party who has standing in your argument.

        Since the contract was created by the Employer, and not yourself,
        the Employer can write requirements for employment that must be
        acceptable to potential Employees, and that acceptance certified
        by signature and date. If a potential Employee wishes to change
        the terms, he or she should do so before putting ink to paper.

        A morals clause is common enough in Employment Contracts.
        You will find also that other types of contracts to have within their
        terms, exclusions based upon conduct. The most common ones
        I can think of are Insurance Policies. Since I have written several
        of them from scratch, I know that the Insured must meet certain
        requirements before benefits can be paid.

        I wrote Contracts of Insurance. They are not Civil Rights contracts.
        Just My Contracts. ha ha ha

        Civil rights work both ways.
        Yours just haven't been violated, except in your singular opine.
        Sorry R H Take 2 Aspirin and call me in the morning.
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          R H 30+

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          May 19 2013: Alright, but 'puchasing insurance' is buying a product, not earning a livelyhood, and therefore carries different 'weight' and a different level of consideration. I do not deny, as is implied n the 'at will' comment in the debate explanation, that employers bave a right to state conditions of employment in offer agreements. I'm merely argueing that using my personal conduct - especially off the job - as evidence of dismissal should not be one of them, and that its in violation of my civil rights to deny me the right to earn a living via my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    • May 23 2013: Chris, I agree with you. But I also want to respond to RH's argument. First let me say that if the Company dismissed you for any reason because of you participation in protest for some unfairness about some policy or regulations that are completely irrelevant to the Company,s business, then you certainly could sue them for discrimination in employment, because the reason for dismissal was not contained in the employment contract. The definition of misconduct should not include the act of public protest. However, if the protest is for or against, say gay marriage, and if you are hired by the Boy Scout of America, then it does involve the "Company's policy or data information stated in the conduct clause of the contract.
      I am all for the freedom in civil rights, and your legal rights to sue against the employer's discrimination for your rights. But you must respect your employer's right if they forewarned about their stated policies of on involvement in public opinion about either positive or negative protest, including internet chat under your own name and you employer,s
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        R H 30+

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        May 24 2013: Hmmm. Very interesting. Thanks bart. I believe that not-for-profit agencies have to follow the same rules & reg's in employment as other for-profit employers - but I'm not 100% sure. Could the BSA exclude an applicant because they're gay? I don't think so anymore. Could they fire that same employee for participating in a 'gay marriage' protest, and call that 'against corp policy'? I believe, under your description, they could. Looking strictly academically, I would argue that 'forwarning' a new employee that involvement in public protests, on their personal time, that are against 'mission/vision' statements of the organization are grounds for dismissal, is against their civil rights to be gay and participate in protests. So let's play this out: The BSA (using your example) is against gay marriage. They have a 'most qualified applicant' and hire them - making it perfectly clear that participation in public protests that are against the mission/vision of the org, in this example 'gay marriage', are grounds for dismissal. But as the now employee, the law says participating in public protests are a civil right. Therefore, is not the org's demand 'overruled' by the law of the land? In other words, is it legal for my now employer to fire me for exercising my civil right, even though they notified me in advance of employment that it was their requirement? I would say the employer cannot have that as a requirement in the first place, and therefore would be in violation of civil rights law to require that in an employment agreement. Thanks again for the interesting contribution, and if you care to, let me know what you think because I'm exploring this point myself.
        • May 24 2013: I would gladly answer your question, but please be reminded that this is not a legal advice of any kind. I am not a lawyer by profession or academic training. I also don't intend to give you any advice even as a layman. But I have also no intention of criticizing your idea or conduct. This is just my observation on you legal position in this dispute.
          I have known 2 recent events that seem to have some bearing on your situation. First is the news that the BSA does make decisions of hiring/accepting membership of gay people. One of the voting just happened yesterday. The other event is that some decision was made that a CEO or other responsible officer of a company could post the policy or some financial information of a public company on the internet with his own name and title, which is legally allowed but also is legally responsible for its truth. So, in my interpretation, it is probably permissible for you to join a protest, waving a placard or a banner indicating what you are protesting for. (usually you won't be identified, especially connecting with your company affiliation). But you are a little out of line when you chat on the net with your name and company identity flashed on the screen because of the second recent news I cited above. Of course you likely are not the CEO of your company, but that is not really materially relevant.

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