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Fired For ‘Off-Duty’ Behavior

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(Credit: Thinkstock)

(Credit: Thinkstock)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Can your employer legally fire you for what you do off duty?

John Boyett, a safety for the Indanapolis Colts, was arrested last month for public drunkenness and resisting arrest. It took four officers to subdue him during the arrest, where he was heard saying “you can’t arrest me, I’m a Colts player” to which the Colts replied, “yeah, about that…” and let him go.

Given that he didn’t murder anyone (the lowest of the low bars to which the football players aspire), and given that he obviously can avoid a tackle, can he make a legal case that he can’t be fired for something that happened off duty and that doesn’t affect his job?

Virtually all sports players sign contracts in which there are morals clauses, clauses in the contract saying that they won’t behave in a way that brings ill repute upon the team. Despite the fact that teams tend to overlook those morals clauses for their star players, the team has the right to enforce them, even selectively.

And even if you didn’t sign a contract with a clause like that, your employer has the right to penalize you for your off duty conduct, particularly where it makes you or the company look bad.

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