Workplace Culture

No, You Can’t Make Offensive Videos About Your Co-workers, Even with Legos

By Jon Hyman

Apr. 20, 2016

Since we’ve gone serious the last two days, I thought we’d go with the less-serious today. Watch this video, and then let’s talk.
 


This is one of a series of videos posted to Facebook by a New York nursing home food service worker. The videos, made with Legos, depict his former co-workers in sexually or violently threatening ways. Thankfully, the posting of such videos still disqualifies one from collecting unemployment.

Substantial evidence supports the Unemployment Insurance Board’s determination that claimant was discharged from his position as a food service worker in a nursing home due to disqualifying misconduct. Claimant was obligated “even during his off-duty hours, to honor the standards of behavior which his employer has a right to expect of him and … he may be denied unemployment benefits as a result of misconduct in connection with his work if he fails to live up to this obligation.” … Here, the record contains evidence that claimant created violent and sexually explicit videos using “LEGO” characters, including characters depicting the executive director of the nursing home, claimant’s department head and two female coworkers, and posted the videos online.

According to the New York Law Journal, the employee claimed that the “characters were ‘obvious exaggerations and distortions of celebrities’ and none was based on his coworkers.” To the contrary, the unemployment judge concluded that it was not a “mere coincidence that he chose songs or movies with names similar to those of his coworkers, or that it was mere coincidence that he adapted those names to reflect or identify characteristics of his coworkers and [nursing home] administrator.” Three cheers for common sense and a strong BS meter.

Time to update my harassment training presentation to include: Thou shall not post offensive videos with Lego-ized caricatures of your co-workers.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at JHyman@Wickenslaw.com.

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