Many companies have employee code of conduct and work rule policies in place to ensure not only that operations go smoothly but also to ensure the interests and safety of its employees and the organization. Here are a few workplace behaviors that can often warrant disciplinary action or termination.
· Theft of company property
· Working under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol
· Fighting or threatening violence in the workplace
· Sexual harassment
· Disclosure of confidential business information
· Possession of explosives or firearms at work
These are all legitimate concerns and should receive discipline or even termination if practiced at work. What if, however, such offenses were committed outside the workplace? Many organizations, especially sports associations such as the NFL and NBA, have policies that demand proper behavior off the field/court as well.
Josh Brown, a New York Giants kicker, was recently reprimanded by his organization for admitting that he had abused his girlfriend several times in recent years. On top of that, he was unapologetic about it. The Giants benched him for one game this past week until further judgement on him can be made, a move that has been highly criticized by the media as far too lenient. Greg Hardy, a former defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys, was suspended his first four games of 2015 for a domestic dispute incident in 2014 in which he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. Hardy has also made disparaging comments about other players and their wives on social media. In 2016, through six weeks, no team has signed him.
The NFL’s code of conduct policy extends beyond the workplace, not just to the club house, locker room or the field. Unbecoming conduct in a player’s personal life is also subject to reprimand.
According to the NFL’s code of conduct policy when prohibited conduct is committed by one of its players, the player committing the offense, and the club to which he belongs, has an obligation to report the crime. Additionally, their policy states, “Any Covered Person arrested for or charged with conduct prohibited by this policy will be required to undergo a consultation and additional counseling as directed.” It goes on to say “Examples of such Prohibited Conduct include, without limitation: any crime involving the use or threat of physical violence to a person or persons; the use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime; possession or distribution of a weapon in violation of state or federal law; involvement in “hate crimes” or crimes of domestic violence; theft, larceny or other property crimes; sex offenses; racketeering; money laundering; obstruction of justice; resisting arrest; fraud; and violent or threatening conduct. Additionally, Covered Persons shall not by their words or conduct suggest that criminal activity is acceptable or condoned within the NFL.”
Does your corporate policy demand that employees report other employees for criminal activity that may occur outside of work? Does your personal conduct policy state that your employees must undergo counseling for their personal offenses or that they should be suspended for a period of time or fired? Probably not. Yes, you may fire an employee for showing up to work under the influence but would you at the very least demand counseling if they received a DUI on the weekend?
The NFL, its franchises, as well as other sports franchises and the players’ sponsors are worried about image. They are worried about their brand. Conduct unbecoming not only affects team chemistry but it affects sales as well. Are your employees’ personal conduct violations affecting your company’s culture or morale and is that hurting overall performance and ultimately your organization’s brand? Are you willing to bench one of your players or at the minimum, get them the help they need? Why don’t you pretend for a moment that the TV cameras are constantly scrutinizing your every move and then decide.