Today’s release by The Courier Mail of photos showing the State MP for Redlands (Queensland), Peter Dowling with his mistress on an overseas holiday as well as the disclosure by the mistress of other photos taken by the MP of his genitalia give rise to a number of questions regarding how this should be handled in an employment situation. The MP is also Chair of the Ethics Committee and a member of the CMC. Allegations are made concerning his breach of the travel policy, which Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says are currently under investigation.
If one of your senior management employees acted in this way, what would you do? Given the public face of the employee and his “employer”, and the consequent disrepute and embarrassment brought to all involved, I’m sure most of you would say that his employment should be immediately terminated.
However, let’s look at the possible reasons for dismissal that you could apply:
- Breach of travel policy – did the MP act within policy when travelling with his mistress and not declaring approximately $20,000 worth of flight upgrades?
- Misuse of company resources and property as his mistress alleges that the ministerial office annexed to state parliament and the state electoral office in the Redlands were used on numerous occasions for their sexual encounters. In addition it appears the MPs mobile phone was used to capture and send photos of his genitalia to his mistress.
- Breach of code of conduct – assuming you have one at your organisation that you have bound all your employees to and that it covers the employee’s behaviour in regard to bringing disrepute upon themselves and the organisation by their action in their professional, public and private lives.
- Breach of implied terms of employment contract requiring the employee to act within the bests interests of the organisation while in such employment. Such behaviour has made it impossible for the employee to represent the organisation and to carry out their duties as required by the organisation.
Importantly, all of the above reasons would need to be thoroughly investigating with a finding made before any such reason could be used. As well, the employee would need to be allowed procedural fairness with specific reference to: notice of meeting, support person at meeting, opportunity to respond and consideration of such response.
Obviously, the major and very significant difference here is that the MP is an elected member of Queensland parliament and not an employee of an organisation, therefore different rules apply to his ongoing roles on committees, as a member of the LNP, and as an elected member for Redlands.
What are your thoughts on how you would handle this situation if he was your employee?