If you get drunk on an airplane, forcing it to be diverted, should you lose your job?

Recently, a couple of Research in Motion executives got drunk and disorderly on an Air Canada flight. As a result, the plane was brought down early at an unplanned destination. Among other things, this caused a number of passengers to miss their connecting flights and inconvenienced all of them. The incident has been getting a lot of air time here in Canada.

Today, RIM announced that it was firing the two yahoos. I think that is dirty pool and is inappropriate. There is no way they would have lost their jobs if they worked for another company (and, especially, IMHO, if they weren’t executives). In other words, a standard is being applied here based on their employer (RIM) and their executive status.

In fact, both print and online news sources have trumpeted these guys’ positions at RIM since the news initially broke (e.g. initial report in the Star headlines RIM, e.g. CBC notes RIM connection in its first report, e.g. next day’s article, e.g. other newspapers too). Would the media have made the same fuss about two line workers at IBM? Would anyone even know they worked for IBM? And, even if their employer was known, why would such information ever appear in a news item about a crime they (are alleged to have) committed? Think of it, when do you ever see someone’s employer become the focus of the news stories reporting on a crime that their employee(s) committed? And that’s just it - the news stories have repeatedly and conspicuously announced that these idiots were employed at RIM. TPTB at RIM had, therefore, little option but to give them the axe.

Again, I’ll ask - since when does your punishment (getting fired and/or publicly humiliated, etc.) depend on who you work for (excepting perhaps “major” figures known to the public beforehand)? More to the point, if the media had not discovered, and then broadly announced that these guys worked for RIM, the incident would not have even been reported and they’d still have their jobs.

I’ll finish by asking you to imagine that, tomorrow, two guys who are flying to Vegas pull the same stunts on their flight. Of course they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the applicable law(s). But, should they lose their jobs? Well, if they manage to keep the name of their employer from getting out, chances are their boss will never even find out what’s happened, let alone fire them. And if the identity of their employer is known, would it be likely to be shouted out in headlines, over and over again? If they work for Dell? What about Esso? No, that is reserved for employees of Research in Motion (or whatever company happens to be a media target at the time).

When you actions reflect poorly on your employer, you are running the risk of losing your job. As was told to me during orientation - “don’t throw up on one of our best customers while wearing a company polo” - Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems.

Yes they should be fired. They brought unnecessary and bad publicity to the company. If the media hadn’t picked up the story they could have kept their jobs but that’s not what happened so it sucks to be them.

If they were on the flight for business(which I assume they were) and their employer didn’t make it into the news I think the company still should have fired them.

If they were flying for personal reasons and they pulled the same shit I don’t think think they should be fired necessarily but if it were my call I’d still fire them.

My take on it is they are employees who the company needs to depend on getting from point A to point be and be able to conduct business appropriately on time. People who drink so excessively they can interrupt a flight and cause it to be diverted are not people I would want my business to depend on even if the incident only occurred on their personal time. The only weight on my decision not to fire them would be if they offered a skill set that I could not replace.

These mopes caused international travel disruptions, embarrassed their bosses on a national scale, and cost Air Canada probably tens of thousands of dollars. I certainly don’t blame RIM for for not wanting to allow these guys to continue representing their company abroad.

As for blaming the media - nonsense. These twits caused a major public fuckup. The public is entitled to talk about it - and them - all they want. No one is obligated to protect their reputations in the wake of their own self-destruction.

People who act like wolverines while riding public transportation should be shot in the nuts with those little frilly tranq darts. (Actual tranquilizer - optional.)

Absolutely should be fired. When you are traveling on company business, you are representing the company. This is made clear in every orientation I have attended and it was explained that there would be consequences for certain types of behavior on company business. In addition, they are barred from flying on at least two different airlines which means that it would be much more difficult for them to do their jobs anyway.

It would be an understatement to say that RIM is having a bad year, the fact that these two guys were flying to China on RIM business, paid for by RIM. That means that their standard of conduct has to reflect the same way, as if they were in the Waterloo campus.

A double standard might have applied if they got off scott free and be seen as being protected by the old boys club, for boisterous spirits or something like that, but they got what any commuter flying would get on the legal side.

As for being fired, I would want to hear their version of events if how two people were able to board a plane and be sloshed enough to cause a distrubance, even before they hit the pacific. But at the moment at the least, I think that they got canned for cause.

As an aside though, I wonder how you would explain to your next employer, why you left your last lol.


Well I’ll be the dissenter here then.
Fired for bringing the bad publicity? NO - absolutely not. Their employer is irrelevant to their crime and should not have been mentioned.

On the other hand - travelling on business and being irresponsible enough to get drunk and miss connections, be late or whatever other consequence happened - firing offense.

Needing to travel for business and being banned from an airline because of drunkeness - firing offense.

If these two clowns worked for me, the best that they could hope for is being fired. As far as I’m concerned, they should have been thrown in jail for at least a week. Here’s another thing to consider, were they drinking on the company’s money while traveling? If their company paid for them to get shitfaced, then there may be some sort of liability there.

Also, the two clowns should get sued by every crewmember and passenger on the plane, but that’s a separate discussion.

See, I knew everyone would agree with me! :wink:

not me. there’s always room for hipocrisy. if those two guys are cannon fodder, i’ll fire them to make the company look good. if they’re rainmakers or top-producers, i’ll criticize the airline for not taking care of them and for handling the situation poorly (divert the flight!?!?!?)

I fly a lot. I fly so much that I get to drink in the lounges for free and I’d guess 50% of the time I’m automatically upgraded to business class (It’s all about the miles baby!). I’m just some dolt that is sent by a company, on their dime, to do x, y or z. I think I take trips an average of twice a month.

This is one of my nightmare scenarios.

I don’t mind a flight delayed or canceled due to weather. I don’t mind one having the same done because of some mechanical issue. Hell one of my most recent flights was canceled (after being delayed) due to crew rest. I want you pilots and attendants to be nice and rested when we get back on that plane, hell I’ll come by and give you each a warm glass of milk and kiss on the forehead if it would help.

I would be livid though if some major disruption caused me to have to unscrew my plans, even if I was just headed back home.

I’ve boarded PLENTY of aircraft drunk out of my head. It’s not hard. Find your seat, buckle up and go to sleep. Later you can tilt your seat back or use the bathroom. It’s not a fucking bar, it’s a plane and we’re all on it assholes. Sit down, buckle up and sleep (or watch whatever shitty movie is on I don’t care).

I have more sympathy for the mother that lets her ultra-hyper toddler run up and down the aisles screaming on a cross Atlantic flight (barely more but still more).

Fired? Hell they should be publically flogged.

All my personal bitching aside, yes they should be fired. The minute the company’s named hit the media they were rightfully toast. I’d expect that the company paid for their tickets, which as someone else alluded to is the same as them puking on their best customer while wearing company shirts.

I hope Air Canada also banned them for life.

Yes, they should be fired.

Uh…since forever? They did the humiliation thing themselves. RIM just decided they didn’t want to be associated with it.

What’s so special about RIM that you think any other large public company wouldn’t take exception to two of their executives creating a similar scene.

You can do whatever the fuck you want as long as you don’t get caught.

There’s probably enough reasons other than just the publicity to get them fired. That said, I don’t see why the media felt the need to identify their employer, and I don’t think people should be fired for what they do in their personal lives or what they post in their Facebook pages.

With higher position comes not only higher pay, but also higher responsibility - so punishing an executive different than a line worker is not automatically hypocrasy. (Esp. not as it usually runs the other way: the line worker is fired for a minor screw-up, the exec is promoted after a major mistake).

Two, the company RIM that got bad publicity because of their actions has the right to take additional measures to protect their reputation. Not doing anything could be taken by the public that this type of conduct is typical for RIM execs.

Related to that, if you are flying on the companys dime to a business meeting, getting drunk enough to loose control over yourself and cause trouble shows a serious lack of judgement. That alone would mean at the very least a serious warning in the file, a demotion or even a firing, regardless of issues in the press.

If one of your employees does a Jerkass -type dumb stunt in his free time, and on the payroll is responsible for making strategic decisions affecting hundred of workers and hundred thousands of dollars of the company (as execs usually are), then the company is justified in wondering if acting stupid off-company indicates a general lack of judgement/ intelligence/ common sense, and thus have a serious talk or worse when hearing about it.

If they’re flying on business at the company’s expense? Absofuckinglutely.

I really don’t get what your issue is here. People get fired for far less egregious offenses every day.

Oh, really?

I’ve had co-workers fired for being drunk, and for being drunk in a far less disruptive manner, both executive level and mail clerk level.

If you make your company look bad you can be fired.

If you show up to work drunk, you can be fired.

If you’re drunk AND make the company look bade, you can be fired.

Look, MOST people can have a drink or two on an airplane without getting obnoxious enough to cause a diversion and unscheduled landing. Based on that, I can only assume their behavior was over-the-top. Why would any company want a pair of executives who can’t control themselves in public?

I’ll chime in with the voice of redundancy. Most HR manuals (including my own) state that any employee behavior that embarrasses the company is grounds for dismissal. Pulling a jackass move that grounds a plane qualifies.

BTW, most if not all of the news reports in the OP happen to be from Canadian media, and RIM is a really big name in Canadian business, so it is noteworthy for those media outlets to mention that these were not just two random hosers on a holiday but executives on company business. Who may have themselves made a big deal about being RIM executives (why would someone, these days, but that’s another thread) at some point in the scene.

But yes, in my estimation, if I run a company and journeyman salesman Joe Blow gets thrown out of a strip joint in Indiana in his off-time(*), I may pull him aside and tell him to cool it; but executives on company business disrupting a flight to Beijing? Out.

(*as long as he didn’t try to charge the expense account for it, then he’s history of course)

I laughed. Out loud. At work.