NEW YORK NURSE: July/August 2010
Q.: Can an employer discipline me for off-duty misconduct?
A.: As a general rule, attempts by an employer to exert power over employee’s activities or conduct while away from work would constitute an invasion of an employee’s personal life. It could place the employer in the position of sitting in judgment on neighborhood morals, a matter which should be left to civil officials.
Despite agreeing in principle that the private lives of employees should remain beyond an employer’s control, grievance cases have acknowledged that off-duty misconduct can serve as the basis for discipline or discharge when it affects the employment relationship in a negative way. Employers may view off-duty misconduct as just cause for disciplinary action when it impairs an offending employee’s ability to perform at work. Check your facility policy and procedures.
The NYSNA EGW Program receives many inquiries each month from members who have problems in their workplaces. If you have a question about labor relations at your facility, contact your NYSNA nursing representative. If you have a question you think should be featured in this column, send it to: RNs at Work, NYSNA, 120 Wall Street, 23rd Floor, New York, N.Y. 10005.