Would Your Company Fire Ray Rice?

National Football League (NFL) player Ray Rice was recently suspended from his career as a professional, released by his Ravens team, and publicly shamed for punching his then-fiance in an elevator. Videos seem to show a solid uppercut, and she was clearly unconscious on the floor as he dragged her to the hallway.

The judicial system has since declared Rice immediately eligible to return to professional football, but teams are expected to shy away from the public relations nightmare that signing him would entail.

Not one of us would condone knocking another person unconscious without “just cause.” Most are offended because such a physically fit man hit a woman so hard, and would be less upset had Rice hit a man.

While righteous indignation in this public case is easy, does your company have a termination policy if an employee is charged with hitting someone outside of work? Are you concerned about the image of your company should an employee commit a similar crime?

In Ohio people convicted of a DUI (driving under the influence) are given bright yellow license plates with red numbers that must be affixed to their cars while they have limited driving privileges. While I am amazed by how many of those plates I see on the road, I am equally amazed with how many sit in the parking lots of manufacturing companies.  Apparently the off-work poor decision-making of those employees is not enough to get them fired, much less enough to prevent them from working in their profession ever again.

While there are many arguments for second chances and the hiring of felons that have “paid their debt to society,” becoming aware of extremely poor decision-making by employees seems to require some kind of evaluation process by the employer.

Ray Rice not only gave a black eye to his now-wife; he gave one to the entire NFL. Strangely, that same league employees a significant number of convicted criminals without all the fanfare.

Does your company have a consistent policy that applies to all equally, or do you even want one?  Maybe “does it make the front page?” defines the split between forgivable and fired.  That seems to be the case in the NFL.

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