OFF-DUTY SCHOOL BOARD EMPLOYEES
Posted on September 14th, 2011 by Centennial Law in Employment Law, Off Duty Conduct
Where does your professional life end and your personal life begin? When can you say to your employer: it’s none of your business? What if a mid-forties school board employee has a sexual relationship with a 15 year old female student? Should the employee be fired?
It happened in Nova Scotia. The employee was a caretaker. The 15 year old female was a student at a school within the school district which employed the caretaker - but she was not a student at the school where the caretaker worked. They met at a horse barn – not at a school. The girl was 14 years old when the relationship started but the relationship was non-sexual until the girl reached age 15. (Since these events occurred, the age of consent has been raised to age 16 – but it was 14 at the time.)
When the school board learned of the relationship, it dismissed the caretaker due to its concerns for the school board’s reputation. The caretaker filed a grievance through his union. As is usually the case, the grievance was submitted to arbitration. Some may be surprised to learn that the arbitrator decided that the grievor’s sexual conduct with the girl did not justify any discipline whatsoever. It is true that the arbitrator did find that “regardless of whether the act was consensual or who initiated it, the age and experience differences make any such conduct repugnant” – and therefore harmful to the school board’s reputation. On the other hand, the arbitrator felt that the caretaker’s privacy interest in his off-duty conduct outweighed the employer’s interest in the reputation of the school board. What do you think?
Article written by Centennial Law Corp. (Douglas E. Dent)