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A B.C. education assistant who was warned a few weeks ago that she could be terminated from her employment due to her social media activity is capturing attention around the world.
Kristin MacDonald previously started an OnlyFans account under a different name, Ava James.
She told Global News that as a single mother, the income from the account, which is subscriber-based, supplements her income as a teaching assistant, which she said is not enough to support her and her child.
On April 28, MacDonald, who is currently recovering from back surgery, said she was notified of a complaint about her internet profile. School District 43 said she was in violation of an article in the collective agreement and warned she could be fired.
B.C. teaching assistant battles school district over OnlyFans account
“An employer has the right to set professional standards and policies for conduct outside of work and that can include limits on taking a second job and social media use,” Lia Moody, a Vancouver employment and disability lawyer and managing partner of Samfiru Tumarkin, told 980 CKNW.
“However, I’m of the view that there has to be a pretty strong connection between the employment and a restriction like this one in order to justify a with-cause termination of her employment.”
Moody said it really comes down to what is in MacDonald’s collective agreement as she is a union employee. MacDonald told Global News on Monday that she has been receiving a lot of support from her union.
“This woman is in a position where she’s not being paid well enough to put food on her table and a roof over her head for this excellent work that she and other EAs do and so she was forced to go and get this other job to supplement her income,” Moody said.
“But that aside, there is no right to that. Most contracts, including most collective bargaining agreements, are going to set out the very strong parameters by which somebody can be let go.”
Moody explained unionized employment is not the same as non-unionized employment. Unionized employees can be terminated from their jobs if it is covered by the collective agreement.
She said she expects MacDonald to be protected by her collective agreement and should be able to keep her OnlyFans account.
“She is entitled to a certain degree of privacy over these sorts of things and she has a right to make work where she needs to make work how she can,” Moody added.
“You’re supposed to represent your employer the best you can and the extent that you’re associated, your personal image is easily associated with where you work, that’s going to change that standard, that’s going to change that metric.”
Someone who is recognizable to the public could be held to a different standard, Moody explained. However, someone who is not considered a public figure, wouldn’t be held to the same standard.
“I personally think any employer loses any moral high ground when they put their employees in a position where they’re not paying them a liveable wage and they have to go out and do this,” she added.
“And I look at this individual and I think, ‘If she were working a second job at an old folks’ home or a public library, nobody would even think twice about this and it’s only because there’s this posting of sexualized or revealing images that all of a sudden make this a big deal.’”
As of now, MacDonald said she is going to continue on with her account.
“I do believe that I should be able to continue on,” she said on Monday. “I’m not hurting anyone. I’m not breaking the law. So I stand by where I’m at right now.”
-with files from Christa Dao
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