Friday, February 19, 2010

The Irresponsibility of Firing Employees

  When I was a little girl, adults got jobs and stayed with companies until they retired.  I sound like an old curmudgeon, but, back then, people had loyalty.  Employers were loyal to their employees and employees were loyal to employers.  Of course, back then, women had to choose jobs from the "Female" listings in the newspaper want ads and forget anyone of color getting any job of responsibility.  I guess my rose-colored glasses are turning a little brown.  However, back then there was not a culture that employees were commodities and the victims of lay-offs were collateral damage.

 What is wrong with a system that allows employers to eviscerate its workforce not because the employer is on the brink of bankruptcy, but because the management of the employer sees a way to make even more profit.  The toll on those souls whose livelihood has been ripped from their grasp, whose dreams have been decimated and whose dignity has been cast asunder is monumental.  However, there are ripple effects which the management of employers fail to consider.  One of my relatives is working at a company undergoing a wave of "lay-offs."  So far this relative is safe, but she does not feel safe.  The next round of lay-offs is around the corner.  Thus far, the company has targeted its older, "mid-management" workforce.  Who knows if this is a ploy to thin the ranks of the older, perhaps slower, most loyal employees.  The employer does not consider the emotional impact of those left behind, the disillusion, fear and anger.  Morale is at an all time low at this company.  The company's profits went down a little, but it certainly is not on the verge of collapse.

I recently read an article in Newsweek talking about how mass lay-offs hurt businesses. After 9/11, all airlines except Southwest laid off employees.  Southwest has grown by leaps and bounds and is now the biggest airline in the country. Perhaps, just perhaps, when an employer acts in a compassionate manner, cares about loyalty, cares about its employees, there is a positive business effect.

Corporations have a personality, just as countries, states and cities do.  A group of people take on personality-like characteristics.  With people, those who do for others, care for others without worrying about what is in it for them, are the happiest.  Perhaps that is true for corporations, who are rewarded not in terms of happiness, but in serving civilization and thereby thriving.  I try not to deal with businesses which treat their employees badly.  Doing the right thing, treating employees with dignity and respect, has its own reward.

Perhaps this topic is on my mind because I am representing a client who was fired after being diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer.  The employer knew of the cancer and knew my client was undergoing chemotherapy.  My client was the sole support for the client's family.  What this employer did makes me sick and I am angry.  

Let's all reward those companies, by doing business with them, based on how they treat their employees, their customers and on how they act as citizens of the world.  We know the Supreme Court now says that corporations are people under the law and have first amendment rights.  Let's make them act responsibly, and if they don't, hit them where it hurts, in the pocket book.  Just as how we don't befriend nasty people, lets not do business with nasty companies.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When I Grow Up I Want to Be Rachel Maddow

I love Rachel Maddow.  She is opinionated, yet respectful.  She is an advocate without emasculaing (or efeminating - I just made up that word.)  She is my hero.  I wish all lawyers could be like Rachel Maddow.  She is an individual, unintimidated, uncompromising, yet she treats others with respect.  Plus, her hairstyle is very cute.