Mar 302011
 March 30, 2011  Posted by  Court, Workplace

Well, I’m not sure if this is a workplace privacy issue or not, but it is such a bizarre situation that I thought I’d mention it here. From Nestor F. Sebastian of Courthouse News:

A manager whose outburst at his TV set was accidentally recorded by a co-worker’s voicemail says Verizon fired him for his comments, which included his beliefs on politics and health care.

Richard D’Arpe, a manager for Verizon for 15 years, says he was at home and off duty when he made a work-related call to Christian Flete, a technician. He hung up and put the phone “somewhere in the vicinity of his pants pocket.” It was July 7, 2010.

While watching a news documentary, D’Arpe says, he became upset and “began to yell at his television regarding politics, health care and his beliefs. These comments were not directed at anyone.”

D’Arpe did not realize that his phone had accidentally redialed Flete, whose voicemail caught D’Arpe’s rant. D’Arpe says he “was completely unaware of the entire incident at this point in time.”

But Flete, who is not a party to the complaint, filed an incident report with D’Arpe’s manager about the message, D’Arpe says. He adds that Flete forwarded the message to an undisclosed number of colleagues, who in turn continued forwarding the message to others.

Read more on Courthouse News, where you can also find a copy of the complaint.

Can an employer terminate an employee for an accidental transmission of a message that violates corporate code of conduct? I have no idea what New Jersey’s labor laws say. Could the employer argue that the employee created – even unintentionally – a hostile work environment for others and was therefore properly terminated? Do you think that the employee has a any chance of prevailing in this case?

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