Bosses should keep out of workers' private lives

October 09, 2015, 5:07 PM GMT+0

Two thirds of Americans think it's unacceptable to be fired for legal things you did outside of work, except for being racist on Facebook

A marketing worker in Atlanta found out the hard way last week that what happens on Facebook rarely stays on Facebook. Gerod Roth was fired after it emerged that he had posted a photo of him with a co-worker's child. Roth, who is white, and his friends made a number of racist jokes about the co-worker's black child, even calling the child a 'slave'.

YouGov's latest research shows that, in principle, a large majority of the American public (64%) think that it is unacceptable for employers to fire people for doing something that is not illegal outside of work but which the employer thinks is wrong. Only 15% of the public think that it is acceptable for employers to fire people for personal behavior, while 22% aren't sure.

When it comes to specific actions, however, people are more likely to think that it is acceptable to fire someone for things done outside of work. 55% of Americans think that it is right to fire someone for doing cocaine outside of work, while 42% say it is right to fire someone for posting racist material on Facebook, as Gerod Roth did. Most Americans think it is wrong to fire someone for smoking marijuana (55%), insulting a co-worker's child (60%) or being homosexual (85%).

37% of Americans say that they have been fired or otherwise lost their job at some point in their life. Of this group 27% only say that they deserved it when they were fired.

Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here.