Off-Duty Conduct of College Pres Leads to Firing

Employers have an interest in the activities of employees–even if those activities occur during non-working time.  Much to the chagrin of employees, employers do care, strongly, about the off-duty conduct of the workforce.  The “who” and the “what” of employers’ focus is broad and varied.  From local newscasters to international sports superstars, all employees will be held accountable for their actions taken while “off the clock.”  And whether those actions include smoking, overeating, or cheating on one’s spouse, you can bet that some employer, somewhere in the country, puts a scarlet letter on any employee who may participate in them.  Although some examples of off-duty conduct seem a bit overboard, this story seems to reside fairly close to the line of relevancy. beer

Iowa Central Community College’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept the resignation of the school’s President.  Robert Paxton, 52, had served as president for 13 years at the time.  One day before the incident that led to his separation, Paxton signed a three-year renewal agreement.  

And, according to ABC News, less than a week later, the firestorm began. 

A picture was published in the Des Moines Register that appeared to show Dr. Paxton pouring beer into a young woman’s mouth.  The picture appears to have been taken on a boat, where Paxton is seen with a group of young people.  He is holding a small keg over the young woman’s head.

The Board says that, although the incident happened while Paxton was off-duty, his choices, “it reflected poorly on the college.”

Thanks to the renewal agreement that he signed just before the July 4th weekend when the off-duty conduct is said to have occurred, Paxton will receive a severance package valued at approximately $400,000, which includes his salary for two years and continued health-care coverage. 

So what’s the verdict?  Does the college president’s off-duty conduct (i.e., beer kegging it with a bunch of college-aged individuals), reflect poorly on the school?  So much so that termination would have been appropriate had he not stepped down? 

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