The Importance of Good Behaviour – Lessons to Learn From Ray Rice
24 September 2014 by Lawrence Adams
A recent domestic violence case involving American Football star, Ray Rice, has highlighted the importance of getting your disciplinary policies correct.
Ray Rice is a celebrated American Football star, previously employed by the Superbowl XLVII-winning Baltimore Ravens. His employment came to a dramatic end last week when Baltimore Ravens terminated his contract. His dismissal came about as a result of a domestic violence case that threatened to embroil, not just Rice, but the Commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell.
Rice was arrested in Atlantic City, New Jersey back in February 2013 under allegations of domestic abuse. Videos quickly surfaced online that showed Rice dragging his now-wife Janay Palmer out of a lift at the Revel Casino. Rice was found guilty of third-degree aggravated assault in March 2014. As a first time offender, Rice was a recipient of a pre-trial diversion program, avoiding a custodial sentence in favour of regular counselling.
At the time of the incident, Roger Goodell had been considering possible sanctions to impose upon Rice. He eventually suspended the player for two games and fined him an additional game’s pay.
Ray Rice made headlines once again last week when a further video surfaced showing the incident in New Jersey from inside the elevator. The Baltimore Ravens took swift action in firing their star player. Although both the Baltimore Ravens and Roger Goodell were heavily criticised when it became clear the video had been available as early as April 2014.
A leaked memo earlier this year revealed Goodell’s regret that he “didn’t get it right”. Prior to the release of the leaked video, Goodell had introduced a raft of new tougher penalties for players accused of domestic violence, including six weeks for a first offense and at least a year for a second. Rice is currently suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
The incident highlights the importance of having a policy or procedure in place to deal with employees accused of criminal offences. The Baltimore Ravens’ decision to fire the player over a year and a half after the original incident has drawn heavy criticism from pressure groups. The official line has been that Rice had been dishonest about what transpired in the elevator in 2013. The NFL issued its suspension on similar grounds.
Although the events are American in fact, the lessons to be learned have strong resonance with British companies. The reputation of a prestigious company or institution can easily be damaged by the actions of an errant employee. It is important that a company has solid procedures in place to allow it to deal with the potential media backlash a high-profile incident can cause.
Companies are advised to update their policies as often as possible. Fisher Jones Greenwood offers a health check service for companies who’s policies require updating. For further details contact Beth Baird ([email protected]) or Lawrence Adams ([email protected]) by phone (01206 835 230) or by email.
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