Don't get caught "Horsing Around".

If ever there was any doubt about the matter, the recent video of a teacher kicking and hitting a horse is a prime example of how your actions outside the workplace can impact on your work and professional life.

As a result, the teacher has been suspended from her employment pending an investigation.


The video which was shared online by hunt protesters has now been viewed over 2 million times and has generated enormous criticism as the footage allegedly shows a member of the Cottesmore Hunt in Leicestershire, believed to be Sarah Moulds.


Mowbray Education Trust said a staff member – understood to be Sarah Moulds – “has been suspended pending formal investigations”. Owing to the nature of the content of the footage, the RSPCA have confirmed that it was investigating.


Ms Moulds has also been removed from a volunteering role she carried out for the Pony Club. It was stated that the behaviour witnessed was entirely inappropriate and inconsistent with the general ethos of wellbeing and welfare supported by the organisation.


Generally speaking, an employee’s conduct outside of work is not a matter for the employer unless it adversely impacts the workplace. However, when this does impact upon the employers and its reputation, this would be in the realms of misconduct so the employer could progress matters using its disciplinary policy. If conduct or behaviour brings the employer into disrepute, then any potential dismissal could probably fall under the category of ‘some other substantial reason’, being a potentially fair reason for dismissal.  


Any employer should consider drafting a Code of Conduct that clearly establishes the expected standard of behaviour. Then, there should be a social media policy setting out what is and is not acceptable online conduct and the consequences of failing to comply, which may range from warnings to dismissal. In this case, it is the fact that the employee’s actions have been posted to social media that has damaged the employer’s reputation. Also make sure that this type of conduct is expressly mentioned in the disciplinary policy,


For employers, it is easy to overestimate the reputational damage that may follow from the conduct outside of work, so remember at all times that any dismissal must be within the range of reasonable responses. Keep in mind that when considering a claim for unfair dismissal, an employment tribunal will consider a number of factors, including whether the actions amounted to misconduct or “some other substantial reason”, whether the employer conducted a fair investigation, whether it considered all other avenues to dismissal, and whether a dismissal on these particular facts was fair.


Any and all information on this website is general information and is not legal or other advice. Nexus Solicitors Limited is not responsible for any loss which may arise from relying on the information on this site.