Solicitor sacked after his ‘Scouse scum’ rant on YouTube went viral
In another example of how misconduct in an employee’s private life can lead to dismissal, a solicitor, and avid Chelsea fan, has been dismissed because of his comments on YouTube in which he called Liverpool fans 'Scouse scum' who should 'crawl back to their horrible Merseyside homes'.
The solicitor subsequently apologised for his comments, saying that he had let his emotions get the better of him after his team lost and that his hot-headed and regrettable reaction to the defeat was inappropriate.
However, his apology did not save him from losing his job. His firm issued a statement saying that his comments were inconsistent with the firm’s ethos and his partnership with the firm had been terminated with immediate effect.
A good reputation is one of the most prized assets for most businesses and is the basis for building and maintaining relationships with customers. It is not surprising therefore that the employer in this case responded promptly and decisively to its employee’s comments on YouTube when inaction could have led to the perception that it condoned or did not care much about his remarks.
Case law supports the right of employers to dismiss employees whose conduct can damage their employer’s reputation, even if that conduct takes place in the employee’s private life.
It is good practice for employers to have written policies which spell out their expectations for off‑duty conduct by its employees, and which explain the consequences for any conduct that damages the employers' reputation.
It will still be necessary, of course, for employers to think carefully about whether there is a real risk to their reputation from the conduct by their employees, gather evidence, conduct a reasonable investigation and follow a fair dismissal procedure.
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