Stecyk

NYC Ballet considers social media guidelines

85 posts in this topic

I've heard his radio show several times and thought he was an effective interviewer -- it does seem that he's being punished for personal choices. I understand the labor law aspects of the situation, but it does seem unfair.

I am not sure what you've read so far. If it is just his Facebook account, then you must remember that you are receiving his side of the story.

There have been serious allegations mentioned in Jezebel, a woman's online site, and in two New York Times articles Jian Ghomeshi, CBC Radio Host, Is Fired in Sex Case and What Jian Ghomeshi’s Accusers Were Afraid Of. Again for emphasis, these allegations have not been proven in a court of law.

From the first mentioned New York Times article we learn that:

On Monday, lawyers for Mr. Ghomeshi filed a lawsuit against the government-owned CBC claiming breach of confidence, bad faith, and defamation, and seeking 55 million Canadian dollars, or $49 million. He has also retained a crisis management firm favored by politicians.

So they have sidestepped the constructive or wrongful dismissal lawsuit referenced by the Financial Post.

Anyway, this Ghomeshi stuff, while interesting, is deviating away from ballet. I had mentioned it initially when it had to do with behavior and wrongful dismissal. The link being that employees need to watch their conduct, which would likely include online postings, because their behavior can affect their employment, even when they are on off-hours and especially when they help represent the company.

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In the US at least, unionized employees would most likely seek redress for wrongful termination through their union's formal grievance process, which isn't necessarily a disadvantage even though it doesn't have the headline éclat of a $50 million lawsuit. (And - ahem - may not require the services of an attorney specializing in employment law, which is what Howard Levitt is.)

In my view, it would still be a disadvantage. It's an advantage in that a union would put up the costs and fight the fight. It's a disadvantage in that the employee has lost control of the process. A union would decide when enough is enough. And a union might even decide that the employee was in the wrong, even when the employee still might have a fighting chance. Moreover, I would expect that a union would take a bigger picture view of the situation. That is, this is just one fight or issue of many. Let's keep things in perspective. Whereas for the employee, especially in a termination case, this is the hill to die on--especially as there are no other hills.

In short, if I were ever to launch this severe of an action where my livelihood and reputation were at stake, I would want as much control as possible. And, you're right, a union would likely never go for an eye-catching fifty million dollars lawsuit. Extreme numbers become meaningless.

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In the US at least, unionized employees would most likely seek redress for wrongful termination through their union's formal grievance process, which isn't necessarily a disadvantage even though it doesn't have the headline éclat of a $50 million lawsuit. (And - ahem - may not require the services of an attorney specializing in employment law, which is what Howard Levitt is.)

In my view, it would still be a disadvantage. It's an advantage in that a union would put up the costs and fight the fight. It's a disadvantage in that the employee has lost control of the process. A union would decide when enough is enough. And a union might even decide that the employee was in the wrong, when the employee still might have a fighting chance. Moreover, I would expect that a union would take a bigger picture view of the situation. That is, this is just one fight or issue of many. Let's keep things in perspective. Whereas for the employee, especially in a termination case, this is the hill to die on--especially as there are no other hills.

In short, if I were ever to launch this severe of an action where my livelihood and reputation were at stake, I would want as much control as possible. And, you're right, a union would likely never go for an eye-catching fifty million dollars lawsuit. Extreme numbers become meaningless.

I do think it depends on the situation, which is why I said it wasn't necessarily a disadvantage.

A high profile individual like Ghomeshi might well have the time, financial resources and support network necessary to pursue redress through the courts. He will also have the individual clout -- and, just as important, the dollars -- to keep his lawyers from taking control of the process: unless there is enough money, publicity, or prestige in it to make a lengthy and potentially fruitless court battle worth their while, a prudent law firm will encourage its client to settle, and quickly if at all possible. And, if the client doesn't have deep pockets, or if it looks as if the payout from a case taken on a contingency fee basis won't be enough to cover its expenses, the law firm won't be inclined to die on that hill either. (One of the most valuable services a good lawyer provides is telling you when it's time to stop.)

For an "at will" employee without Ghomeshi's profile, resources, and network, the going will be tough. In the US, "at will" employees -- i.e., those without an employment contract (either as an individual or as a union member) -- can be terminated for almost any reason or no reason at all, and the hurdles to mounting a successful wrongful termination action are many and onerous. Employees must demonstrate that they were terminated in violation of federal or state employment law, and that is often harder to do than it sounds. What might look like a clear-cut case of discrimination or retaliation to you or me can look -- or be made to look -- very different in a court of law.

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A high profile individual like Ghomeshi might well have the time, financial resources and support network necessary to pursue redress through the courts. He will also have the individual clout -- and, just as important, the dollars -- to keep his lawyers from taking control of the process: unless there is enough money, publicity, or prestige in it to make a lengthy and potentially fruitless court battle worth their while, a prudent law firm will encourage its client to settle, and quickly if at all possible. And, if the client doesn't have deep pockets, or if it looks as if the payout from a case taken on a contingency fee basis won't be enough to cover its expenses, the law firm won't be inclined to die on that hill either. (One of the most valuable services a good lawyer provides is telling you when it's time to stop.)

For an "at will" employee without Ghomeshi's profile, resources, and network, the going will be tough. In the US, "at will" employees -- i.e., those without an employment contract (either as an individual or as a union member) -- can be terminated for almost any reason or no reason at all, and the hurdles to mounting a successful wrongful termination action are many and onerous. Employees must demonstrate that they were terminated in violation of federal or state employment law, and that is often harder to do than it sounds. What might look like a clear-cut case of discrimination or retaliation to you or me can look -- or be made to look -- very different in a court of law.

I do think it depends on the situation, which is why I said it wasn't necessarily a disadvantage.

Kathleen, I agree with you far more than I disagree. Surprisingly, many/most lawyers are poor at judging outcomes. It's a hard thing to do, especially when one has a vested interest. However, I do agree that if the client lacks financial resources, the law firm will look out for itself first and limit its exposure. Furthermore, any experienced person, lawyer or layperson, knows, that when you go to trial, you're entering a crapshoot. And we also know that most, something like 90% or more, of all cases are settled prior to trial. So yes, there's a time to settle and move on.

With regard to your comments on "at will" employees, I agree. While I don't know the specifics of the Ghomeshi termination, most smart companies simply terminate with no reason given. Then the companies provide the mandated termination or severance package and everyone moves on.

Still, if I were going to fight a battle, I'd prefer to the one calling the shots. I would have to live the consequences, whether good or bad. Thus, I would want complete control of process from my side. Every intermediary is just more sand in the gears. And if I were not happy with the way my case was being handled, I wouldn't hesitate to switch key players in my team. Moreover, I would bone up on the applicable laws so that I could dance right along with my lawyers. With potential millions at stake, I would be extraordinarily motivated to learn and to learn fast.

Anyway, that's just me. Others might prefer a more passive approach. Seeing how quickly Ghomeshi mobilized his forces, however, he doesn't seem like the passive type either.

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Stecyk -- I think we agree that for certain individuals both fighting and calling the shots is an appropriate response. If you've got the resources, the support network, a healthy allotment of good judgement (enough to recognize good advice when you hear it), and you have right on your side, then go for it.

Mostly I'm worried about folks who don't have those advantages.

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Kathleen, I enjoyed our discussion, so thank you.

I am curious to see how the Ghomeshi issue plays itself out, though we might not ever learn the final outcome with all its details.

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Mostly I'm worried about folks who don't have those advantages.

Which is the other 99+%, and I can't think of a ballet dancer who's an exception.

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Howard Levitt wrote another article in the Financial Post Lessons from the Jian Ghomeshi case: ‘There is nowhere to hide’ where he discusses using social media.

I have always advised not to post anything on social media, at whatever age, that you would not like seen by a future employer. The cautionary tale of Ghomeshi is that that this caution must extend beyond what you post, extending to everything that you do which can be related by others or surreptitiously recorded.

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In this case, Ghomeshi made a deliberate post for all to see, especially his employer, to get out in front of the issue. It may have failed or backfired, but it wasn't the casual or impulsive use of Facebook that got him fired or in a heap of trouble, which is how most people get themselves in trouble.

That kind of casual carelessness is what brought on his latest issues:

Ghomeshi used CBC phone to send lewd messages to women, source says

Were he being careful, he would have used his own phone, and then his employer wouldn't "own" everything that happens on his phone.

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In a tangential and somewhat similar vein, John Galliano lost his court decision that he was unfairly dismissed.

John Galliano is a famous haute couture clothing designer. He made inappropriate remarks at a bar one night that cost him his job. Here's a New York Times article Dior Fires John Galliano After Bigotry Complaints. Today the website Fashionista published an article John Galliano Loses Unfair Dismissal Case Against Dior and His Namesake Label.

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I expect that we'll see more high profile mishaps that are recorded in some fashion.

My recent posts in this thread have been meant as a conversation starter. What is permissible and what isn't? Is it only work related conduct that matters, or does our any (or all) of our conduct matter? Has technology and social media made a difference? And, now that almost everyone carries a cell phone with a camera and can upload mishaps to a social site, has that changed our environment or behavior? These are bigger questions than I can answer.

I have always found topics of this sort interesting. That is, there seems to be changes afoot. What does it mean to us? I suspect in prior years, your private life was your private life. Now, we seem to be witnessing a blurring of private and work lives.

Unless there is something dramatic, I will let this topic go.

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I don't think there's any standard yet, to be honest. I think that employers are playing it by ear. It also depends on the industry.

If a ballet company is trying to be edgy, it might encourage more outre things on social media, especially if there's a token outre person or two. If it's more conservative, the same behavior would be frowned upon.

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Regarding Galliano, Vanity Fair published an article that examined his abuse / addiction to certain chemical concoctions. Here is the curtailed version:

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2013/06/john-galliano-interview-exclusive

Thank you for highlighting the Vanity Fair article. I am surprised that I missed it earlier.

I recall reading case studies, although different from the Galliano circumstances, about employers and employees drinking at off-site parties, and then bad things happening. Usually, the employer was held accountable.

As Helene mentioned, employers are coming to grips with social media and, probably too, on how other outside activities might affect an employer's reputation. I am sure that business, law, and ethics case studies are being now being written. This whole area is an interesting field of study.

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I was listening to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's The Current this morning. The topic of conversation was the vulgar confrontation by some young male bystanders of a Toronto television reporter Shauna Hunt. You can listen to the 22 minute podcast by following the prior link.

Here's a YouTube showing the incident: https://youtu.be/LKkAL1AEam8

One of the hecklers was fired from his job at Hydro One.

As part of the discussion, The Current discussed what right(s) a company has in terminating an employee for conduct outside of work.

The panelists are as listed below:

  • Daniel A. Lublin is a workplace law expert and a partner at Whitten & Lublin.
  • Kaveh Shahrooz is a lawyer who focuses on human rights issues and codes of conduct.
  • Alicia Versteegh is the co-director of the Toronto chapter of Hollaback, an anti-street harassment movement.

Generally speaking, I don't intend to keep this thread alive. However, I thought today's CBC discussion is good because there was a lawyer who discussed workplace law.

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Teachers get fired for behavior outside of the classroom, as do military members, and many others. I think it's a tough thing to defend as an attorney. I see companies becoming more and more sensitive to this issue in the future. Modern technology should make us all behave better in public, but unfortunately people still drink alcohol and do stupid things.

If a NYCB dancer made hateful comments towards Jews, similar to what John Galliano said (and caught on camera), I think the dancer would be terminated. Especially in NYC.

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Harvard Business Review Case Study: Should He Be Fired for That Facebook Post? (Subscription generally required, though I believe you're allowed a few free reads per month).

There's an interesting case study about an employee who makes an inappropriate post on Facebook. The question becomes what to do about it. The answer hasn't been provided, though there are some excellent responses from readers in the comment section. Many of the readers who commented have high profile positions and have views worth considering.

Anyway, I thought HBR Case Study might be of interest to those who find this topic interesting.

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Jian Ghomeshi was discussed at length in this thread, especially on page 4.
An interesting quote late in the article is as follows:
In a statement, the CBC, which fired Ghomeshi in October 2014 after viewing what it said was evidence that he had physically injured a woman, said the judge's ruling today and a charge still before the court were unrelated to its decision to end Ghomeshi's employment.

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I hadn't been following along with this case, and so didn't know there had been a decision.

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I hadn't been following along with this case, and so didn't know there had been a decision.

From an employment perspective, did belonging to a union help or hurt Ghomeshi? Did the union play its proper role?

From a societal perspective, I find this case interesting in that two of the three women kept their publication ban--that is, the media is not allowed to reveal their identities--yet Ghomeshi's career and reputation have been harmed, not to mention his finances in having to defend himself. Because this was a criminal case, the state--that is, Canada--prosecuted the action and picked up the tab.

As I understand , there is still one more trial. Once again, Canadians will be focused on that outcome.

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The state felt it had a case, and they brought him to trial. Having to defend oneself is what would have happened to anyone charged.

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