Ryanair pilot Iain Inglis posted numerous selfies from the cockpit – in one, he can be seen sporting a tin-foil “radiation hat” – and even branded passengers “morons.”
“To all Ryanair passengers. You now have a seat assignment. So why oh why are you still queuing up like morons!!?? Please locate your brains,” he ranted, via Facebook.
The Edinburg-born aviator also joked about running away from a young, bearded man he had seen “praying quietly to Mecca and kissing the floor at Stanstead.”
Legally, the 31-year-old’s comments would likely warrant dismissal – labour lawyer Brian Wasyliw told HRM that employers are well within their rights to discipline or dismiss an employee whose behaviour – out of hours or otherwise – reflects poorly upon the company.
“Generally speaking, courts and arbitrators recognize that employers do have the ability to exercise some discipline over off-duty conduct,” he said. “The most obvious example would be when there are public statements made or a public action is taken that clearly reflects very poorly on the company or employer.”
But budget airline Ryanair has been quick to dismiss Inglis’ unusual and intolerant behaviour; “We don’t comment on social media nonsense,” it said in a statement.
The remarkably lenient approach is one rarely shared by employers – particularly in Canada.
- In 2013, Matt Bowman and Lawaun Edwards – both firefighters based in Toronto – lost their jobs after posting misogynistic and offensive tweets. One post by Bowman read: “I’d never let a woman kick my ass. If she tried I’d be like HEY! You get you b***h ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie.”
- Mr. Lube employee Sunith Baheerathan was dismissed in 2013 when York Regional Police retweeted his public request for pot. The message read: “Any dealers in Vaughan wanna make a 20sac chop? Come to Keele/Langstaff Mr. Lube, need a spliff.”
- During the 2011 Vancouver hockey riots, carpenter Connor Mcilvenna posted several Facebook statuses in support but bosses weren’t happy that he’d put the company’s reputation at risk and dismissed him.
“The general consensus is that employers can take disciplinary measures when a company is suffering because of something the employee did,” explains Wasyliw. “They might not have intended to behave on behalf of the company but that connection has been made.”
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In the age of ever-present social media, public slip-ups can cause significant damage to an employer’s reputation – which means dismissals are becoming increasingly common – but one airline doesn’t seem too concerned.