Friday, 17 August 2018 13:22

Bringing into Disrepute

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It's been an interesting seven days if you follow the antics of sportsmen. Firstly, cricketer Ben Stokes was acquitted of affray; and then rugby player Danny Cipriani was detained in custody on Jersey, and subsequently fined at Magistrate's Court for assault.

Drawing comparisons between the worlds of sport and business isn't always straightforward, but it does make for interesting discussion. Both Stokes and Cipriani could be accused of bringing their respective clubs, national sides and sports into disrepute. Indeed, Ben stokes potentially faces an independent disciplinary investigation by the English Cricket Board for the latter.

These men are employed by the clubs they play for, so how does this equate to a regular employee if their actions outside the workplace brings their employer into disrepute?

Ben Stokes was found not guilty despite the scenario that brought about his arrest being captured on video, revealing some quite controversial behaviour. No doubt it is these actions that have prompted the disciplinary investigation from the ECB. As someone for whom being a role model is practically an implied term of their employment, being seen to punch somebody in the face, regardless of the reasons why, is probably going to call into question whether this implied term was breached.

Cipriani's employer, have stood by their player following the events in Jersey, and this is re-enforced in the club’s official press release. News reports say that other team members were present at the time of the incident and there is an implication that some provocation may have taken place. Possibly, the view was taken that pleading guilty and accepting the punishment was the quickest way to put the whole matter to bed, thereby minimising the whole disrepute situation.

By virtue of their occupations, sport people are easily associated with their clubs. Is it fair then that we should expect an employee to be accused of bringing their employer into disrepute if the two are publicly seen to be associated? Wearing an employer’s branded workwear or driving a logo embellished company vehicle whilst committing something untoward could easily be enough to make the association, even if it happens outside of work time.

Equally, stories of people getting into trouble on company nights out have a habit of making it into the headlines. The media always seem to be keen to imply that because it’s a work event, drinking large amounts of alcohol is sanctioned by the employer. Our advice is always to remind employees that company sponsored social events are effectively an extension of work and behaviour should be reflective of this.

As for the disciplinary action to take regarding bringing your employer into disrepute, this is likely to depend on the severity of the misdemeanour. We recommend that it is made clear to employees that it could extend as far as dismissal. As usual, consistency is paramount. It’s quite a dilemma for a professional sports team to take the decision to dismiss a key player as this will probably be counterproductive for the performance of the team. For other employers, deciding whether or not to dismiss somebody based upon how easy it will be to replace them, rather than whether their actions deserve it, is very likely to cause problems in the future.

For any advice or support regarding the disciplinary process, including bringing the company into disrepute, just call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read 172 times Last modified on Friday, 24 August 2018 11:58

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