Employers can (and do) consider employees’ off-duty conduct when making employment decisions–in most cases. For example, in most states, it is not unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire job applicants who smoke during non-working time.
And, as we’ve seen with former TV news anchor, Alycia Lane, off-duty activities such as sending bikini-clad photos of yourself to a married man, yelling a homophobic slur, or slapping an undercover police officer ended up getting Lane fired. Now another famous name is making news with his off-duty antics.
Shaquille O’Neal made the news this week not because of his on-court moves but for his freestyle rap performed off the clock. Shaq was seen in a video rapping about former teammate, Kobe Bryant. (The censored version of the video is below). He raps that Kobe couldn’t have won three straight NBA titles without Shaq on his side.
So maybe this is a poor display of team spirit but that’s not all. He also uses a racially derogatory word and other foul language, which has been the real center of the controversy. Critics have condemned the performance, saying that the use of such language crossed the line from bad taste to bad morals.
It’s unclear where the video was shot but it seems to have been at a private function. Another example of the recent push to hold employees accountable for what they do on and off the clock.
This version of the video has been censored to bleep out the inappropriate words but not the bad lyrical style–sorry, but there wouldn’t have been any video left.
Also, the hat tip for this post goes to Felicia B., William W. Bowser‘s delightful Legal Administrative Assistant. Felicia forwarded me an article about the pushback Shaq’s rap has gotten and suggested that it was a good topic for an article about off-duty conduct. Kudos to Felicia! It never occurred to me that to put the two together!
Other Posts About Off-Duty Conduct:
Starring Alycia Lane (and, recently, Larry Mendte):
Off-Duty Conduct, Generally:
Employees’ Privacy Rights: