Is Behavior Outside the Workplace Grounds for Termination?

What you do on your own time can cost you your job.
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Your boss may expect you to act a certain way at work, but what you do after work and on the weekends is your business, right? Not according to most companies. Even though they often don't have set policies, most companies expect you to act professionally outside the workplace. If you didn't think you could lose your job for something you did on your own time, think again.

Employer Reputation

    As you can probably guess, how you act on an interview has a lot to do with whether you get the job or not. Companies don't want to hire people who misbehave in the office or make them look bad to clients. However, bad behavior outside the workplace can also damage your reputation as well as your employer's. Your wild night out might make people think twice about getting involved with you or your company. According to a 2003 article by Bob E. Lype, a Tennessee attorney who specializes in employment law, you can be disciplined or terminated for your off-hours drunken table-dancing or other activities that might tarnish your employer's reputation.

Illegal Activities

    Most companies do a little detective work before they hire you. They check out your references, verify your employment and sometimes do a criminal background check. Arrest records are off limits in most states, although you must come clean about prior convictions. Once you are hired on, getting arrested for anything, from disorderly conduct or drunk driving to other serious crimes becomes grounds for termination. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter if your conduct was justified or if you were misidentified in a lineup -- you can be fired even if you are not convicted.

Social Media

    You obviously know to keep your thoughts about your boss and co-workers to yourself during the day, but even venting about their nastiness outside of work can get you fired. If you dare use social media sites as outlets for your frustrations, be especially careful. Once you post something on the Web, there is no telling where it will end up or who will read it. Your boss may be a jerk, but hold off on telling the whole online world about it. Otherwise, you might soon find yourself in the unemployment line.

Employment Contracts

    You might have signed an employment contract when you were hired. These contracts list the terms and conditions of your employment. They may also prohibit you from doing things that are not in your employer's best interest, such as dating co-workers, working for a competitor or starting your own business. According to a June 2011 article on Employee Help, Michigan attorney Robert Dubault suggests that you become very familiar with that contract to understand what you have agreed you can and cannot do. Otherwise, you could be let go for breach of contract.

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