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View Diary: my son fired from a job of grading fifth grade essays (203 comments)

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  •  went to an academic conference - needed day off (2+ / 0-)

    this was in the diary

    •  Don -- I didn't make that connection. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest, howarddream

      I thought you were just adding more details of who he is, what he's up to, and how he happens to find himself grading papers for a living.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 04:27:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Huh. (8+ / 0-)

      So he wanted to take a day off from one job ... so he could try to obtain a different job?  I can understand how the first employer might be miffed.

      •  You don't seem to have noticed that this is (5+ / 0-)

        short-term "seasonal" employment.

        And either way -- if you are a highly-skilled person doing work well below your training, a decent employer would be happy to see you succeed by going on to something more aligned with your capabilities.

        The job the person has is dead-end piece-work. The people employing the person know that damned well. They may have every legal right to treat him like a mule, but they are still wrong to do so. They are beyond wrong: They are evil.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:21:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That changes things quite a bit. (4+ / 0-)

      When you are working a job where there's some kind of deadline -- as I'm sure there is for getting these graded -- or where your absence hurts your employer in other ways (such as if they can't serve as many people in your absence), then yes, taking a day off for "personal reasons" that's not part of any vacation that you might be entitled to under the terms of your job could well be an offense justifying termination.  

      And that's especially true if you take a day off from one job to try to get another better job.  

      •  he can grade more than the average in 4 days (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Josiah Bartlett

        or if he goes all out, he can do more than anyone else working only 4 days

        so the issue is not productivity

        and they are getting behind already and giving overtime

      •  It only justifies termination if you accept the (15+ / 0-)

        social norm that employees and employers are natural and permanent enemies, and that employers have no ethical obligation to treat their employees as people whose human concerns have significance and meaning.

        In other words, you have to assume that the employer and the employee belong to different tribes and different societies -- or, for those of us with a broader worldview, different species -- and owe each other nothing more than the least they can possibly deliver.

        Although in your case, I'm betting that in most circumstances, you would make the argument, quite firmly, that the employee somehow had some sort of ethical obligation to the employer. As usual, you have rushed to apologize on behalf of the powerful, in their efforts to dominate and exploit the powerless, and the best you can come up with -- also as usual -- is that if the powerful were actually to behave with what used to be called "common decency", they might have to get by with less of something.

        As I noted to someone else: In a decent society, someone paying you a pittance to do miserable work would enthusiastically support your efforts to improve your situation -- after all, a disinclination to self-improvement is precisely what the same bastards you love to defend are always telling us is the principle failing (and a moral failing at that) of those they sadistically exploit.

        As I also pointed out, they're not firing this guy because it will be so very, very costly for them to do without him for a day -- if that were the case, it would be even more expensive for them to do without him for the remainder of the work season.

        No, they're firing him to assert their absolute control over his life, to assert the absolute primacy of their most immediate interests over any and all of his interests, to cow and intimidate and make an example of him to his coworkers, and most generally, because they can. As Orwell explained: The object of power is power.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:41:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's about power. Period. (7+ / 0-)

          "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

          by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:17:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Very well said. n/t (3+ / 0-)

          Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in.

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:37:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's not my premise at all. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          It only justifies termination if you accept the social norm that employees and employers are natural and permanent enemies, and that employers have no ethical obligation to treat their employees as people whose human concerns have significance and meaning.
          I do not think employer and employee are enemies.  On the other hand, I do not think an employer has an obligation to change the terms of employment -- to the detriment of the business, in the view of the employer -- because the employee thinks such a change is better for the employee.  For example, assume a married employee, with children, agrees to work for $25 an hour.  Assume that employee's spouse had a flexible job that allowed for him/her to do most of the child care, but then loses his/her job.  The employee is in a difficult situation, of course; he needs additional money and perhaps additional time to deal with the children so that the spouse can either go out and look for another job, or take a job with less flexibility for child care if necessary.  Is the employee entitled to say, "if you were an ethical employer, you'd raise my pay by 1/3  and let me work only 2/3 of the time?  

          My premise is that an employer and an employee are two adults who enter into an agreement.  The terms of what they can agree to are limited by employment laws.  Above and beyond employment laws, each party agrees to do certain things.  I expect the employer (1) to abide by the law; (2) to honor his commitments to the employee.  And I expect the employee to do the same.  

          •  Your premise is that the employer and the employee (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tonedevil, howarddream

            are not human beings.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 11:37:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, I have more belief in them as human (0+ / 0-)

              beings than I think you do.  

              I think they are adult human beings and as such, should be held accountable for contracts and agreements that they enter into.  On BOTH sides of the transaction.  

              I hold both adult human beings to the same standard.  Obey the law, be honest about the terms you are agreeing to, and then live by the terms you agreed to.  That's what I expect of adult human beings.  

              Sometimes adult human beings will fail to live up to the contracts they agreed to.  When that happens, I expect them to live with the consequences of their actions -- again, on BOTH sides of the transaction.  

              •  You don't even know what a human being (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                joegoldstein, solublefish

                is. You've reduced "humanity" to the abstraction of a "contract", superseding all other human considerations.

                The employer is evil.
                If you would similarly abuse another human being, simply because a "contract" existed between the two of you, then you are evil.

                Decent human beings, adult or otherwise, don't treat each other that way, among other reasons because decent human beings don't suffer from the sort of narcissism that fires somebody out of what is essentially spite.

                Your inane babbling about "adults" doesn't change any of this, your obsession with the "rights" and "obligations" of contracts, as opposed to the subtle nuances of real human lives and their complexities that cannot be captured and accounted for a priori in any written document: These provide clear lenses through which to observe the damaged sociopathy of your worldview. You fall back on the "they're both consenting adults" nostrum beloved of the libertarian mindset -- a mindset that is perfectly happy with indentured servitude, or even non-hereditary slavery, holding the "contract" sacrosanct, unmindful even of the practical problem that no two parties ever come to the bargaining table as equals, nevermind more subtle questions regarding the conditions under which morality dictates whether a party to a contract ought to submit to the terms therein, and comparably, whether a party to a contract ought to demand that the other party submit to the terms therein.

                Everything about your worldview is reactionary and childish, insisting that something utterly abstract -- an agreement between two people -- is something concrete. It isn't, and never can be. If you will continue to cite adulthood as a matter of consequence, I recommend that you undertake the sort of thoughtful introspection of your own epistemology that might one day actually get you there.

                To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                by UntimelyRippd on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 03:13:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  We weren't talking about raises here. (3+ / 0-)

            I don't know where you got that. Your argument is a bait-and-switch.

            •  What we are talking about is an employee (0+ / 0-)

              who expected that an employer would not have a problem if he did not show up to work on a day that he agreed he would work, when the reason was a personal preference (he would rather be somewhere else) and not an illness or anything like that.  

              That's an expectation that the employer has some obligation to agree to change the terms of the job just because the employee wants it that way.  

      •  Like hell it does. (5+ / 0-)

        You can't take one day off a year? not one?

        we're back with Scrooge:

        "A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every 25th of December!"

        Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in.

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:36:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's not what's going on. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib, emelyn

          Apparently, this is a short term job, only lasts for a short period of time.  So, it's not "one day off a year" because the job doesn't last that long.  

          If you sign on to a short term job, saying you will work Monday - Friday for the next, say, eight weeks, and you decide to take a Friday off for your own personal reasons, then you have broken the contract with your employer.

          It may well be that you didn't really want that short term job and would have preferred another long term type job.  And that's completely understandable.  But that does not give you the right to violate the contract you did agree to when you signed on to the short term job.    

      •  Not Shocking Coming from the Company Man. (2+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        cville townie, Lost and Found
        Hidden by:

        Do you ever get tired of promoting corporate America?

        I miss Speaker Pelosi :^(

        by howarddream on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 11:54:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Won't Argue with that HR, Emelyn. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cville townie

          I deserve it. What I said about ct wasn't very nice, but sometimes the truth hurts.

          Anyone who has any experience with that poster knows that he/she will always back the company position and never side with the plaintiff.

          Hell, that poster was even giving George Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt back during the Trayvon Martin case.

          I miss Speaker Pelosi :^(

          by howarddream on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 01:12:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You are apparently confused. (3+ / 0-)

        The economy exists to serve the interests and the welfare of the human beings, not the other way around.

        If an "employer" cannot treat his "employees" as human beings, with dignity and respect, then he has no business becoming an "employer" in the first place - and no right to do so. And please don't talk about "deadlines" and other such crap - these are all constructions, not laws of nature.  If your business needs to make a deadline and losing an employee to illness might make that impossible, then that is YOUR fault - you should have made sure another employee was available, or that the deadline was flexible, etc. Nothing gives you the right to offload YOUR problems on the employees. Employers do this because they have the power to do it, and that is all.

        •  You are apparently confused. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nextstep, VClib

          First this is not about an employee getting sick.  This is about an employee who made a commitment to work every Friday for a certain period of time and then unilaterally decided, for personal reasons (he want to got to something that could help him leave his job for another job), not to work on a particular Friday.

          And I agree that an employer should treat employees with dignity and respect.  That means (1) following all employment laws, and (2) living up to the commitments the employer has made to the employee.

          No one "owes" anyone else a job.  A job is an agreement between person 1 to make certain commitments (including pay, benefits, working conditions) in exchange for commitments made by person 2 (doing so much of a particular kind of work).  It's a commercial arrangement -- like when you go to buy a house or a car.  The employee is selling something -- his time and efforts -- in exchange for something from the employer.

          I agree that in some situations such as in a dismal job market, the employer is in a stronger bargaining position.  That's what the employment laws are for.  On the other hand, people can do things to make themselves more valuable to employers and put themselves in a stronger bargaining position, such as obtaining difficult to acquire, but high in demand, skills.  Here in New Orleans after the Army Corps of Engineers Disaster (what some call Katrina), when a lot of people returned to the Business district, there was a real lack of secretary and clerical type workers.  People who did return were able to command much higher salaries than they did before the ACOE disaster.  That's how the market works.  

          And, of course, people who do not want to depend on someone else to provide them a job can start their own business.  I've seen all kinds of people run their own business, even if it's a business of one person providing personal services to others.  

          I don't know where people get the idea that an employer has some sort of fiduciary obligation to act in the best interests of the employees at all times even if that hurts the business overall.  People who think that way are always going to be disappointed, because that is not how our economic system operates.  Employers have an obligation to follow the law, and to be honest with employees, and to fairly honor the commitments they make to employees.  But they have no obligation to go beyond that in doing what an employee thinks is "best" for the employee even if that is to the detriment of the business.  An employer might CHOOSE to do that for a particularly valuable employee, especially when losing that particular employee would, in the employer's view, hurt the business overall.  It's a contractual relationship, not some kind of obligation for an employer to "take care" of employees.  Anyone who thinks their employer has some kind of obligation beyond following the law and treating the employee honestly and fairly in living up to the commitments the employer made -- that person is just fooling himself.  

          It's ridiculous for any employee to think, well, my deal for my job was to work these times for this much money, but I'm entitled to unilaterally change that in my favor if I think it's in my best interests.  

          •  A good illustration of my point (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Don midwest

            As you rightly say:

            that is not how our economic system operates
            This was the (I thought obvious) subtext of my response: this is not how our economic system operates, but perhaps it should be.

            The diary uses the specific maltreatment accorded a specific person as a point of departure for a deeper consideration of the prevalence of this sort of mistreatment in our modern economy.  What I am suggesting is that we consider whether these injustices may originate in the system of value that is part and parcel of our economic system today: the mistreatment of employees is an inherent result of a system rigged to consider property before people.   Or more precisely, the system is rigged to favor in the interests of the owners of productive property over citizens in general.

            Example: your references to "contract" as the only relevant criterion for assessing the obligations of employers/employees.  This is a convenient legalism which ignores the fact that the legal apparatus of the contract as arbiter of conduct between employee and employer is not a permanent fixture of reality, but arose historically, largely in the 18th and nineteenth century.  Historically, "contract" became the pervasive legal metaphor for the relationship of employer to employee at the same time that industrialization was taking place. This is not coincidental: for in the era of Lockean political liberalism and the French (and American) revolution, which claimed equality of all citizens before the law, the persistence of the 'master-servant' (or 'master-slave') relationship required justification. Indeed, the rapid growth of waged labor rankled the champions of Lockean liberty - among them Jefferson and Paine, who saw it as a threat to real liberty.

            The "contract" analogy, governing our legal (and social)  conceptualization of wage labor was the effective result of this demand: it makes possible the continuation of an essentially feudal and despotic relationship ('master-servant') into an era dominated by the political ideal of liberty: it preserves the pretense of liberty while denying it in practice.  It does this by (literally) requiring us to separate the realms of "economic" and "political" life, and then insists on the subordination of the political to the economic.  As an employee, you check your rights as a citizen at the door of the factory/office where you work.

            "No one "owes" anyone else a job." That's what YOU say - but this was not always the case. Virtually all of our modern sense of state and social obligation to the poor derives from a pre-industrial context, where the sense of obligation of a community to the economic security of its members was pervasive and acted as a moral and social constraint upon the kind of behavior you wish to insist as your right.  Much of this was lost in the transition to modernity; some was restored, but mainly in punitive form (the 'workhouses' of England a prime example; Clinton's "welfare reform" another).

            "No one "owes" anyone else a job."  Jefferson himself disagrees with you:

            The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on. If, for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be furnished to those excluded from the appropriation.
             -- Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison
            28 Oct. 1785

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