Can I be fired for lying about my whereabouts from work – even if it's to watch a Blue Jays playoff game?
THE FIRST ANSWER
Employment lawyer, Whitten & Lublin, Toronto
In a recent case, a service technician requested a day off to play slo-pitch, but his request was denied owing to staffing concerns. On the morning of the slo-pitch tournament, the technician texted his manager saying that he could not come to work due to unforeseen circumstances. The manager visited the tournament and saw the technician pitching. The technician initially claimed he was too sick to get out of bed, then admitted he went to the tournament but did not play, then admitted he pitched only. He was immediately dismissed. Although an arbitrator ruled that the technician should be reinstated, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the decision and upheld his dismissal.
Dishonesty at work is a serious issue and few circumstances could justify lying to your employer, even if it's to watch a playoff baseball game. So if you're lying to your employer in order to attend or watch the game, it's still lying and you can be fired. Consider asking for the afternoon off work in order to watch the game, or record it and watch it when you get home.
THE SECOND ANSWER
Vice-president of human resources and communications at Workopolis, Toronto
The trouble isn't that you went to the game – the whole country is celebrating the Jays and wishing we could attend the games. It's the lying.
Working relationships are built on trust. We need to have confidence in our team members' abilities, commitment and integrity.
When someone you're working with looks you in the eye and lies to you, that trust is broken. You may or may not be fired for the offence. That would likely depend on your track record of accomplishments and reliability. Your career prospects within the company, however, would be severely diminished.
Lying to your employer would put you first in line when there are cutbacks to be made – and last in line for opportunities for advancement. Nobody promotes a person they can't trust.
If you have tickets to the game, ask for the day off. Or half day, whatever works. Take a vacation day, or offer to make up the time by working extra hours.
Most employers will understand and negotiate. If they don't, then you can decide which is more important to you: keeping your job with a boss who's not very accommodating, or going to the game. But at least you've been honest about it.