Human Resource Corner
Louisa Tuck was an
elementary school teachers aide in Vineland, New Jersey. She also
happened to work as an adult actress named Crystal Gunns five
years ago. There’s some debate as to whether or not she
really did leave her adult acting behind 5 fives ago. It seems
she has an adult website that is still active. What a reader who
identified herself as a concerned parent wanted to know is whether
or not it’s okay to have an adult actress teaching elementary
This is certainly a
very serious situation which ignites lots of emotion because it
that taboo subject that we all love, namely sex is involved, not
to mention our puritanical roots and religious issues. This one
is a true powder keg issue.
Well here is how I
see it. First, let’s deal with the fundamental core issue
that is always at the center of any work related issue dealing
with qualifications – Is the person qualified to do the
job and does the issue at hand diminish the person’s ability
to perform their job?
Based on the information
I have read on this situation she is qualified and has been doing
a very good job. Consequently, removing her on the grounds that
she is not qualified would most certainly run afoul of with the
law on the basis of discrimination or possibly a wrongful termination
However, looking at
it from another angle, do her outside activities have a negative
impact on her employer and would her actions tend to tarnish the
reputation of the organization we have a different slant. Given
that the work of her organization deals with educating children
the question becomes ‘are her activities impeding the organizations
ability to carrying out its function?’ If the conclusion
to the question is ‘yes’ then the organization may
very well have sufficient grounds to remove her from her position.
However, this is a determination that a court would have to make.
There are striking
similarities to this case in the one involving a police officer
who was running a porn site that featured him and his wife. His
termination was upheld by the courts. See full court decision
053178F/$file/0516577.pdf?openelement or commentary at http://jonathanturley.org/2008/02/06/court-of-appeals-upholds-termination-of-police-officer-over-private-porn-site/
While the net effect
of this decision may appear to deny public employees the right
to express themselves or to live their lives in controversial
ways it appears that employers currently have the upper hand when
employees’ actions negatively impact the organizations reputation
and/or damage its ability to carry out its mission or function.
As it turns out, Ms.
Tuck resign her position. Most likely she saw the ‘writing
on the wall’ and knew her days were numbered.
Given our focus on
background screening one can only wonder if the school ran a background
check on Ms. Tuck. Had they done so it is likely that they would
have known up front about her previous questionnable employment
activities. It seems to me this whole situation could have been
avoided by a simple background ground check.
All information presented is for information purposes only and
is not intended to provide professional or legal advice regarding
actions to take in any situation. This information is not legal
advice which can only be offered by a licensed attorney.