Business Expectations & Blurred Lines

This past week I spoke to The Canadian Tennis Professionals Association and the Professional Tennis Registry at the Rogers Cup in Toronto about Social Media and the Law. Part of that conversation involved encouraging each club to decide what their specific expectations were for their employees and then using those expectations to craft a policy for the use of Social Media.

What does your business expect from its employees? What does it expect from its’ executives?

If you don’t want, for example, your CEO, to stumble down a main street in Toronto while intoxicated, posing for photo opportunities, you may want to spell that out in their Employment Contract. If you think back to the two Blackberry Executives who were let go after being drunk & disorderly on a plane a year or so ago, you’ll see that it is possible for a lawyer to craft clauses in contracts that require good behaviour when representing your business.

The problem that businesses frequently encounter with expectations surrounding behaviour is their failure to specify what is expected in writing. If you don’t set out what behaviour you expect, you will have a hard time convincing a Judge that the employee knew the behaviour was bad and that you should be allowed to fire them for cause for not adhering to your good behaviour standards.

Expectations are not just limited to employer/employee relationships. If you do business with a customer on a “handshake” and you don’t meet what the customer’s expectations were, you have little evidence to present to a Court that you should still be paid for the service/good you provided.

All businesses have expectations. There is nothing wrong with putting those expectations in writing. You will not lose a customer worth having by requiring they sign an agreement detailing what you will provide and what they will receive.

When it is in writing there are no blurred lines regarding business expectations. If you want to enforce your expectations, Judges want it in writing, so let’s give them what they want.

Inga B. Andriessen JD