The Current

Hydro One cans heckler for defending FHRITP slur off-duty. Message received.

First it went viral and then it spiraled. The sports fan who taunted a Toronto TV reporter with a sexual slur and laughed it off, found himself fired by his employer for conduct outside the workplace. Is this a victory, a message about sexual harassment? Or a dangerous precedent and a threat to freedom of expression?
CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt confronts Shawn Simoes, who defended yelling a popular vulgar phrase during an on-air interview at the Toronto FC home opener. Shawn Simoes was fired by his employer for his bad behaviour. Justified or a bad precedent? (CityNews)

Shawn Simoe and his friends, taunted TV reporter Shauna Hunt last Sunday, as she tried to do her job. She confronted the young men, sensing they were poised to ape an unfunny internet meme that involves shouting aggressive sexual language at female reporters doing live reports.

Mr. Simoes lost his job at Hydro One, Ontario's power provider, within hours of the video going viral. On the video, he tells Shauna Hunt, "you're lucky there's not a vibrator in your ear."

The whole episode, which is being followed by millions around the world, raises some important questions about the kinds of behaviour women face on the job ... and whether it's okay to fire someone for their off-duty behaviour, however boorish it might be.

  • 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. 

Should Shawn Simoes have been fired for his behaviour? When and how should your employer be allowed to discipline you for what you do off-hours?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson and Natalie Walters.