Why Employers Need to Respect the Personal Lives of Employees

Have you heard the story about the gal who was fired from her full-time job as a reporter because she didn’t disclose to her employer that she was a part-time exotic dancer, er, stripper?

Sarah Tressler filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and is suing her former employer (the Houston Chronicle, where she worked as a society reporter) for gender discrimination.

When I first heard it on the news, my first thought was, “Good for her, I hope she kicks their ass and wins!” After all, she’s a reporter, not a nun. She’s earned a Master’s in Journalism and was paying off her debt for her education — that ultimately benefits her employer.

Did employer have a “no moonlighting” policy?

Perhaps she was discovered by her stripper blog that had a photo and her real name on it. Or maybe someone she works with happened to see her while she was on the clock at her part-time gig.

Back to the case.

If her employer argues they had a “no moonlighting” policy and employees were obligated to disclose where they worked, I wonder if she would have been fired if she was working at a pizza joint or the local gym. I’m thinking they would have turned a blind eye provided it wasn’t affecting her work by day.

Sarah Tressler and her attorney, Gloria Allred

The general purpose of this policy is usually two-fold: employers want to make sure their employees aren’t working for a competitor and they also don’t want their employees’ work to suffer if they’re physically exhausted from working a second job.

But what really gets under my skin is something different.

Respecting the private lives of employees

The reason I want this gal to win this case is because a message needs to be sent to employers to get off their high, self-righteous horses and respect the private lives of their employees. No laws are being broken. Get out of the lives of people’s Facebook pages, asking for social media passwords, political beliefs, religious beliefs, sexual orientation preferences and yes, part time jobs.

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It’s none of anyone’s business.

If an employee fails to perform, then step in. Employees are people, just like you, and have a right to a life outside of work.

As an aside: This gal’s attorney, Gloria Allred says, “Most exotic dancers are female, and therefore to terminate an employee because they had previously been an exotic dancer would have an adverse impact on women, since it is a female-dominated occupation.”

I agree with that and I still want her to win.

This was originally published on Kimberly Roden’s Unconventional HR blog.

Kimberly Roden is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Kimberly_Roden , or at kim@unconventionalhr.com .