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Can my fire department punish me for something that I do off duty that is not against the law?

Los Angeles, CA |

My fire department has a "Bringing discredit to the fire department" clause that it uses to bring disciplinary action against employees that are off duty, regardless if the conduct is illegal or not. The department feels that we are always firefighters representing the department regardless of on or off duty status and therefore held to a higher standard.

In response Mr. Dinday, I did ask a question. It was very plain and simple in the initial question section. Next time, please take the time to actually read the question. Secondly and to clarify, I am not in any trouble. This question stems from a conversation that I had with a Superior regarding general disciplinary matters. The supervisor stated that any complaint made to the Fire department regarding a member will be investigated. This includes neighbor complaints about noise or parking. To restate or clarify my question, does my employer have the right to investigate and punish an employee for something that occurs off duty that is not illegal?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. I have three responses to your post:

    1. You did not ask a question

    2. As many people do, you withhold the most significant fact that might allow some intelligent analysis of your situation: what it was you did that they want to discipline you for.

    3. We don't read minds. If you don't want to tell us the problem, please save everyone's time and don't post.


  2. Under certain circumstances, a public employee may be disciplined for conduct done off duty that, while not illegal in the sense it would subject a person to criminal liability, brings discredit to the department.