'FHRITP' outbursts can easily cost your job: lawyer
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, May 13, 2015 9:53AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 13, 2015 5:15PM EDT
Canadian politicians, employment lawyers and the public have all weighed in on a viral video that has cost a man his job.
Hydro One announced Tuesday that they are firing an employee caught on video yelling a profanity at Toronto TV reporter Shauna Hunt.
In the video, the local news reporter is speaking on camera when a group of men yell out, "F--- her right in the p---."
Over the last year, it has become a trend to shout the vulgar phrase into female reporters' microphones. Pranksters call it a joke, but in the video, Hunt says she is fed up with the frequent interruptions.
"When you talk into my microphone and say that into my camera to viewers at the station I work at, that is disrespectful and degrading to me," she tells a group of men who say they were also planning on yelling the line. She then asks why they would find the phrase funny.
One of the men, later identified as a Hydro One employee, tells her that he finds the line "F---ing amazing," and that, if his mother heard him yelling it, she would also find it hilarious "eventually."
Video of the confrontation posted online earlier this week was quickly distributed around the world, later prompting Hydro One to tell CTV Toronto that it was "taking steps to terminate the employee for violating our Code of Conduct."
"Respect for all people is engrained in the Code of Conduct and in our Core Values and we are committed to a work environment where discrimination of harassment of any type is met with zero tolerance," the company said.
Howard Levitt, who specializes in employment law, told CTV's Canada AM that the termination is an example of how social media is changing employment.
"It sends a message that what you do in what you think is your private life, has everything to do with whether you’re going to keep your job or not," Levitt said Wednesday.
He said it is legal for employers to fire people caught showing the type of sexist behaviour captured in the video. A union could fight for an employee to keep their job, but there is no guarantee the union would want to champion such a cause.
And, if the former employee isn’t unionized, Levitt said, their only hope is to change their name and try to start fresh.
Muneeza Sheikh, another employment lawyer, said she would also argue the termination is fair.
"They absolutely did the right thing," Sheikh said. "Generally speaking, if you’re going to terminate an employee on the spot for misconduct, that misconduct has to be fairly egregious. I think there (are) a lot of people who are going to agree with me when I say ‘I think it meets that test.'"
Politicians also responded to the video on Wednesday.
Justice Minister Peter McKay commended Hunt’s decision to speak up, and said that the widespread video could be a tool to deter others from using the phrase.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne also applauded Hunt’s actions.
"I would like to congratulate Shauna Hunt for her courageous stand," Trudeau told reporters. "I think Hydro One acted appropriately and properly in demonstrating that there is zero tolerance for the kind of harassment and misogyny that was demonstrated in that video."
With files from the Canadian Press