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Let's say there is a guy named Samuel, who is 20 years old from Germany sexting with a girl named Mary, who is 16 years old and also from Germany. Sexting was mutually agreed upon. Samuel sends her a picture of his penis, but Mary doesn't share any explicit images of herself with Samuel. She attends a special needs school because she has ADHD. They broke up a month later. This is to my knowledge perfectly legal and normal in Germany. Correct me if I am wrong.

3 years later Samuel gets a contract in the USA as a player on a sports team and a public figure. Mary decides to share her story with the world and mentions how he sent her a dick pic and was sexting with her, while she attended special needs school. The public in the USA gets very offended, calling Samual a pedophile, a creep, and a groomer. This is a breach of a code of conduct; a portion of the rule, that is being violated here:

A player may not engage in any activity or practice, which brings him or her into public disrepute, scandal or ridicule, or shocks or offends a portion or group of the public, or derogates from his or her public image.

His contract gets terminated a few days later.

My question is does the breach of the contract hold in this situation? It happened in a country where it's morally and legally right. But the public in the USA sees this as very morally wrong and illegal. Isn't this form of neo-racism towards Samuel and the people of Germany. The morals and laws in countries are much different from that of the USA, why should Samuel be punished for things he believed were right at the time.

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  • A reminder to the downvoters: please note that voting on questions should be based on how well formed they are and how useful they are, and not on how legal in your opinion is the act which the question asks whether it is legal or not.
    – vsz
    Apr 12, 2022 at 6:42

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The basic premise of a morals clause is that A's work may be of some value to employer B, but their conduct may be a greater liability (causing millions of dollars of losses to B because of the ensuing consumer boycott). Such a clause allows B to manage their losses that arise because of A's conduct. It is then a business decision on B's part to decide what conduct triggers a firing (arising because A broke the contract through their conduct). A can, of course, contest B's decision in court, so enforcement is a trickier matter.

Contract terms are evaluated under the laws of a specific state, do it depends on what state that is, hence under California law, an employer has less leeway to say what is acceptable conduct, and under Delaware law the employer has wide latitude. Enforceability is primarily a function of what the clause says, and what the facts are. See Mendenhall v. Hanesbrands for an example where the question was whether the actions of plaintiff would "bring [him] into public disrepute, contempt, scandal, or ridicule," or tended "to shock, insult, or offend the majority of the consuming public". An argument of the type "in my culture, there's nothing wrong with X" will gain no traction.

In the described situation, the wording of the contract would matter substantially, since the conduct preceded the contract. Without a requirement to disclose prior indiscretions, it is not reasonable to argue that a contract prohibits prior conduct.

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  • What if Samuel had a contract before and the same issue was brought forth, his contract was terminated for the same reason. Two seasons later, a few people vouched for him, claiming he changed and grew from this behavior. The league allowed Samuel to join a team again. but the issue arose again as Mary brought the issue again. Is this completely irrelevant, as the conduct was breached again, or does it change anything? I know I am pushing it, a similar situation actually happened recently and I simply want to understand it. Few people brought up the maliciousness of Mary's message as well
    – SevenEves
    Apr 10, 2022 at 16:35
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    Under the new scenario, the termination would probably be deemed to be in bad faith, since they knew of and accepted his prior behavior. However, Mary is totally irrelevant, from the legal POV.
    – user6726
    Apr 10, 2022 at 16:41
  • Do you think this is okay? Not from a legal point of view, the conduct was breached, that's the done deal. They view this as moral and legal in Germany but people in the USA were offended and caused public outrage, isn't there something inherently wrong with it. I know is not the right thing to ask in the law section.
    – SevenEves
    Apr 10, 2022 at 16:46
  • @SevenEves yes, it's okay. A company in Germany might fire an athlete for wearing Nazi clothing in America. The prevailing norms in the country you are in are the ones that you need to worry about.
    – Tiger Guy
    Apr 11, 2022 at 14:47
  • We can also look at things that are legal both in Germany and the USA, like being an open and blatant misogynist, or racist (as long as you don’t take illegal actions) or many other things. I remember a German judge saying in a court decision “it is not illegal being an a******e” in a case where he definitely wanted to decide for the other party, but couldn’t. In all these cases, a contract could be cancelled if your behaviour and reputation was important.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12, 2022 at 20:51

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