As hard as I try to avoid news of events that just aren’t right or fair, these events seem to find their way to me just the same. I have a good friend, who had been employed in the same profession for more than 30 years. She worked in a job that not many people would want. But at some point in her life, like most of us, she found herself in a job that she was really good at and it was a job in which she was able to make a real difference in people’s lives.
My friend began working for a family-owned business. At some point during her career, the business owners sold out to a large corporation and my friend was assimilated as an employee of the corporation. Now, everything my friend did in her work was toward the goal of helping people during a time of need. Her decisions during the last few weeks were no different than at any other time in her career. She was doing what she thought best served people who were dealing with family tragedy.
On Tuesday of this week, she was unceremoniously fired from her job. She wasn’t given an explanation. She wasn’t given an opportunity to present anything in her defense. She was just told she was no longer employed and she was shown the door. That was what over 30 years of dedicated service was worth to the corporation for which she worked. Those of us, who are aware of the situation at this company, have a pretty good idea of the reasoning behind her termination. It was not based in logic. It was the result of personality conflicts and someone’s ego.
I’m deliberately being vague as to who the friend is or which company she worked for because of the possibility of litigation yet to come. Those of you, who know me, either know to whom I’m referring or you can contact me directly to find out more. My reason for this post is partly to vent some frustration. But it is also meant to get the reader thinking about the employment situation in this country.
It is my understanding that the state in which I live, California, is an “at-will” employment state. Unless you have a contract or some other safety net, such as Civil Service, you are basically at the mercy of your employer if you live in such a state. You may have a family, a mortgage, utility bills and other expenses that depend on the money you bring home from your job. This is a mandatory situation where you need your income to be consistent in order to live.
Unfortunately, many people are in the same position as my friend. The job you’re in is not secure unless you have some safeguards. If you are an “at-will” employee, you have no safeguards. Your employer can decide at any time that they would prefer to have someone else doing your job and you’re out the door. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve done your job correctly or efficiently. What matters is that your employer, of an “at-will” job, can fire you for any reason or no reason.
Now, if a company is having financial troubles and an employee is laid off because of money, there is not much anyone can do in that situation. But it is just not right that a company can fire an employee, who has worked for so many years and has done such a good job, just because someone in management has an over-inflated ego.
So, if you are gainfully employed, take a moment to consider how secure your job really is. Have you dedicated your life’s career to a job that is an “at-will” job? If you have no safeguards in your employment from being fired at the whim of someone above you in the administrative chain, you might want to do some personal re-evaluations. What would you do if your employer all of a sudden told you that you were no longer wanted as an employee? In these hard economic times in an “at-will” employment state, many of us are just a step away from unemployment. In a country as great as the United States of America is supposed to be, there’s something just not right about this.