Restitution: Getting Someone Fired


Let’s say a particular worker has a habit of being flirty with ladies.

He has a bit of a reputation at work for this sort of thing.

One day, he flirts with a particular female co-worker, who somewhat returns his flirtatious advances. She then finds out about his reputation, gets annoyed, and tells the boss. She doesn’t lie about what happened, but merely reveals the situation.

Suppose this man gets fired.

Would the woman in question owe this man restitution?

Let’s switch gears a little bit, too. What I’m about to mention is a purely hypothetical situation (as was the above).

Let’s say there’s a website forum that has moderators, and those mods are given a small salary to perform their duties. Let’s say a particular moderator likewise has a habit of being rather flirty. One day, he messages someone who he thinks is a female, and flirts with her. She speaks to him a bit for a few days, but then contacts the forum admin. The moderator gets fired.

As it turns out, the “female” was actually a male pretending to be a female. He didn’t intend to set up this mod, he merely was contacted, and didn’t reveal the truth about himself. The mod, acting on mistaken information, becomes slightly personal and slightly inappropriate, and it is this behavior that gets him fired, coupled with a reputation for having done this sort of thing with members in this past.

Would such a man owe such a moderator restitution?

My apologies if this is an odd set of questions: I’m just looking for some good information to understand some principles. :thumbsup:



What makes you think they would?

I think you mischaracterize the situation as “getting someone fired”. People get themselves fired by their actions.


When do you think restitution would be a requirement in a “getting someone fired” case? Would it have to involve complete fabrications and lies? If so, how much would the guilty party owe the victim?


That would be up to the court of jurisdiction in the matter…provided the “harmed” party won the case. But that sounds like a very uphill battle in your examples.

In a flat-out defamation case (a civil tort - Google or speak with an attorney for details), the guilty party has been proven to have communicated a false statement which harmed the reputation/standing of another. Key word - FALSE. In your situations, the “flirty” behavior (which you outright admit to occurring) was inappropriate, not the decision of the customer to communicate that actual behavior to management.

“Being rather flirty” is inappropriate in the workplace. It could very well cross the legal boundary into harassment, sexual or otherwise. Employers take these charges super seriously because they can be found liable (and pay very, very dearly) if they have employees harassing customers. So it wouldn’t be a surprise at all for the harassing person (that “flirty fellow” you describe) to be fired. Much safer for the company to be rid of the problem (especially if this person is known to have boundary issues already…and this is a BIG boundary issue). For more info on the employer’s side, you might ask your company’s HR folks your questions, though that might be a can of worms you’d rather avoid.


Since this is in the Moral Theology forum, I don’t think the OP is referring to civil obligation. Rather, I believe this is asking about restitution as one of the steps in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If so, the moral obligation is completely independent of the civil jurisdiction.



My concern isn’t civil law, it’s the theology behind things like detraction, calumny, reparation, and restitution.


An employee behaves badly. This is reported to the employer. The employer decides to fire him.

No, the person who reported the badly-behaved employee did nothing wrong if this is as far as discussion about the bad behavior went. So no debt of restitution.


Quick definitions between the first two

I would also add that it does not seem that the reporters sinned in either of your two scenarios unless their behavior with the flirtatious person was sinful or engaged in to tempt the other to misbehave.

I am not sure that there is an actusl difference between reparation and restitution, altho I have the idea that reparation is used more often when referring to what we owe God as a consequence of our sins, and restitution more to what we owe others as the result, for example, of stealing something from them.


If the poster is flirting in return and letting the moderator think that the recipient of the flirtatious comments is a female rater than a man I would say that the poster is also guilty and should be banned. Just my opinion.


Sorry, I missed which forum this was in. I’ll bow out, as I’m not RC. (But I might follow this thread as others post, because the suggestion that the RC church would dictate that a victim of another’s bad acts owes reparation to the bad actor as part of sacramental reconciliation? Just, wow.)


Of course, the Church does no such thing. If there’s something in my stupid analogies that gave you that misunderstanding, the fault of course is mine.

The Church teaches that restitution is owed when someone willfully takes from another person, or destroys, something that that person, in justice, has a right to, whether property or their name.

In other words, if I happen to go to your car and smash in your windows, justice demands that I repay you for your loss. This is the origin of things like the once-common maxim* don’t borrow what you can’t afford to purchase.* If I damage something, I’m responsible for it.

A victim owes nothing to a bad actor in terms of reparation/restitution. My first example was meant to be a clear case of this. My second example is an unclear case, and I personally think it illustrates that two persons are the cause of a particular ill, perhaps equally so, with the question existing of what is owed to whom.

But again, it’s not the Catholic position that a victim of sexual harassment, say, would owe their aggressor reparation should such an aggressor be fired for their advances. And again, any fault in the analogies is my own.


Detraction does not apply in either case, because detraction is when someonme “…without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them.” (CCC #2477) In these cases, there is an objectively valid reason. Even in the second case, there is no sin in reporting. The person may have sinned in not undeceiving the moderator about his gender, but that is separate. Restitution would not be needed, since no actual damage was the result of that, but I think a sincere apology would be in order. The actual damage was caused in each case by the inappropriate behavior of the person who lost his job.

For example, if I were a man pretending to be a woman (which I’m not, but you’ll have to take my word for it :slight_smile: ), it wouldn’t hurt anyone, because nobody has behaved inappropriately to me. In fact, if I didn’t explicitly say I was a woman, but just let people assume it by my screen name, I really can’t see how that is a sin, because online folks have no right to know my gender, so I’m neither either explicitly lying nor withholding information from people who have a right to it.

(The guy in the example probably crossed the line when he kept up the pretense, but without knowing what he said, it wouldn’t be possible to be sure. The mere fact of you sending me a “flirty” (which is to say, possibly harrassing) e-mail does not give you the right to any information about me whatsoever. It also doesn’t take away my right to lie to you directly, because I never had that right to begin with. :smiley: )

Calumny definitely does not apply because that only applies if the information given was false.

If the person behaved inappropriately enough so that an honest reporting of that behavior to the appropriate authorities (not, e.g., posting it on Facebook) causes him to be fired, how can that be the fault of the reporter?


P.S. I really am a woman. Now I’ve either told you the truth or I have to go to confession and address the whole question of restitution, which would almost certainly involve coming back to this thread and telling the truth, so it’s lucky that it’s the truth I’m telling already. :whacky:


No in both cases. The flirty person broke the rules so the other party has done nothing wrong by reporting the flirt.


They shouldn’t be fired for this. At worst they should get a slap on the wrist and a warning.


Often times women simply being polite is taken as returning sexual advances.

At what point should a sexual harasser get fired?


After enough warning have passed to make it clear that he or she is well aware that they’re making others uncomfortable.


I dont know about that, arent we taught its generally a bad idea to go around telling on people, reporting them to ‘authorities’ for things they have done? I would say its better to stay quiet, unless its something where people could be harmed or killed.


Given the statement:

‘…who somewhat returns his flirtatious advances.’

They both should be fired as they were both engaged in the prohibited behavior. Unless there’s some mitigation in that one person has done it several times and been counseled while the other it’s their first time.


I’m not sure “snitches get stitches” qualify as words to live by.

I think this does qualify as something where if uncurbed can lead to people being harmed, unless of course you think sexual assault isn’t harm :shrug:

Men often assume that women are being flirtatious when they are simply being polite.


I’m afraid that I have to agree completely. I am unaware of how reporting people for misbehaving is supposed to be bad. I’ve never heard that before. I suppose if I didn’t think that what they did was wrong, I’d be reluctant to report them, but I do. And I’m afraid that if a man says he is being “somewhat flirty” I tend (from past experience) to think that if I read the actual words, I’d describe them differently.

And women frequently try to avoid being really harsh when they are not interested. As Joie de Vivre said, men often misinterpret this.

As for needing a lot of warnings before being able to be disciplined, I’m not sure why they should. In the first case, he was doing it all the time (and quite possibly had already been warned) and in the other case, it was a clear breaking of rules he had signed up for. In some ways, I’m biased because of working for a really big company. We have to retake the sexual harrassment prevention course every two years (along with several other courses, like on avoiding insider trading). I can’t imagine how someone would not know when they were doing it. But maybe in smaller companies, you haven’t taken the course so many times you can practically recite it. :slight_smile: However, if the people being fired were not clearly going against company policy, and they got fired for it, they would have legal redress. And frankly, (at least in the first case) if there were not, in addition, some sort of attitude issue or at lease a couple of other complaints, he probably wouldn’t have been fired.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit