It is always a fine line between conduct which occurs out of work and the ability to discipline or dismiss for it. Some examples are more clear cut than others. It is not limited to conduct in the course of employment provided it affects the employee or could be likely to affect the employee when he is doing his work. The key for the employer is to establish that it affected or was likely to affect the workplace in some way. Does it affect the suitability of the employee to do the job and his relationship with the employer, work colleagues and customers?
A recent case of CJD v Royal Bank of Scotland  demonstrates the issue combined with the difficulty for all parties of having immediate family members working together, something I see time and time again in practice. The employee was dismissed for assaulting his partner who was also his work colleague in a domestic situation. The dismissal was found to be unfair as there was an inadequate and unreasonable investigation. The employer expressly accepted that the employee was acting in self-defence and as such the Court of Appeal held that he could not be culpable and in these circumstances the Tribunal has been entitled to find that the employer had not established the reason for dismissal was misconduct.
The Tribunal felt that the inadequate investigation had been because of the assumption that in any dispute between a man and a woman involving physical contact, the man is likely to the aggressor. The Tribunal also found at first instance the dismissal was direct sex discrimination compared to his partner who had not been disciplined. However the Court of Appeal did not reinstate this decision as the Tribunal had erred in the burden of proof. No doubt the fact that the partner was not disciplined at all impacted on the fairness of the decision in any event.
I have seen all sorts of conduct outside of work resulting in dismissal some fair and some not. From the employee caught shoplifting in uniform to the employee sexually harassing an employee at the office party. Of course it is coming round to that time of year and no doubt I will have more stories to add to the memory before the Ne Year is underway.