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The US Capitol Siege has showed the importance of employee fidelity

United States President Donald Trump is exiting office in disgrace in the wake of the shocking scenes at the Capitol building following his call to supporters to get tough and demonstrate.
Capitol seigeThe conduct of police in defending the Capitol building during the riots on January 6 has led to strong of criticism of police. Some have said people would have been shot in significant numbers if it was Black Lives Matter that attempted to enter the Capitol building.
Some of the video footage of the riot apparently shows police officers facilitating the invasion by letting people into the building. Allegedly some officers directed the rioters to certain offices, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Another officer took a selfie with one of the rioters. Yet another wore a "Make America Great Again" cap.
Clearly the riot was not well handled by police. Several have been suspended pending further investigation into their conduct. The Chief of the US Capitol Police, Steven Sund, has resigned. The acting Chief, Yogananda Pittman, has indicated police will review videos to check on officers’ conduct with a view to taking disciplinary action against those who have offended, up to dismissal.
In addition, and quite separately from the conduct of police in defending the building, a number of police officers from around the US had taken leave which enabled them to participate in the demonstration.
Executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, Chuck Wexler, drew a line between those officers who merely marched and those who went inside the building and became part of the riot. This seems a sensible distinction.
He also pointed out that virtually every police department presumably including Washington has a rule that a police officer commits a breach of their employment if they commit “conduct unbecoming” a police officer.
I would expect to see a number of police officers on duty during the riot being disciplined and, in some cases, losing their jobs.
In New Zealand the police force is independent from politicians insofar as operational matters are concerned. This is a old tradition that dates back to policing in England. However, if police officers in New Zealand behaved like some of those in Washington I am sure their jobs would also be on the line. We would not expect them to guide rioters to the offices of particular politicians; take selfies with rioters; or wear insignia effectively supporting the riot.
In New Zealand we have several employment obligations that would clearly have been breached by the officers in question. First there is a duty of fidelity, trust and confidence not to damage your employer while you are still in employment.
There is an implied term to behave in a way that promotes trust and confidence in your employment relationship. The courts have often said trust and confidence goes to the heart of any employment relationship.
There is also an obligation of good faith which means neither the worker nor the employer is to behave in a way that is misleading or deceptive, or tends to be misleading or deceptive.
Police officers at the Capitol building who were letting people in or who were directing them to, say, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office would clearly be behaving in a way that was destructive of the employment relationship and in breach of their obligations if they had been in New Zealand. They probably breached their obligations in the US.
An Employment Court case involving a significant earthmoving company sets out the importance of fidelity to your employer.
In that case an employee, M, was the regional manager of an earthmoving company, REL. He took preparatory steps to set up a new company in competition while still employed by REL.
The court accepted that certain preparatory steps were lawful. Others were not. In particular, M acted in concert with other employees of REL to secure customers for the new business.
M, together with another employee, sought to solicit staff, including key players, for the new business. M acted against the interests of REL by taking those steps. Some of these former employees of REL were up for significant damages accordingly.
Although a police officer might not cause financial damages by acting against the interests of their employer, they may breach their oath to keep the peace. They might undermine public confidence in police. As such, the duty of fidelity is every bit as important to their employment relationship as it is to one with a private employer.
Trumps actions on the day of the Capitol riot have done him a great amount of damage. Unfortunately, the collateral damage will almost certainly see several police officers losing their jobs.
Of course, many police officers at the Capitol building carried out their duties honourably. Indeed, one was killed in the execution of his duty and many others were injured.
Deceptive behaviour breaching obligations of fidelity and good faith is likely to end in tears, whether it is committed in Washington or Wellington.