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Just picked up a story on Yahoo News from the AP wire about a Missouri woman who was fired from her job because she missed a week of work while having to care for her 18 month old granddaughter. The woman's daughter and son-in-law were trapped in Mew Orleans   unable to get out before the hurricane hit.
more below the fold

Here is an excerpt from the story...
"By BILL DRAPER, Associated Press Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When forced to decide between caring for her 18-month-old granddaughter while her parents were stranded in New Orleans or showing up for her job, Barbara Roberts chose to be a grandma. And for that, she was fired.

Roberts, 54, had driven 200 miles from her home in Mount Vernon to Columbia on Aug. 27, the Saturday before Hurricane Katrina came ashore, to care for granddaughter Trisana for a couple of days. Her daughter, Tina Roberts, and son-in-law, Chris Hardin, were in New Orleans.

It was supposed to be a weekend business trip for the couple, and Roberts, who had used up her allotted time off in her assembly line job at Positronic Industries, had planned to be back to work on Monday. Her daughter had even arranged for another baby sitter to spend Sunday night with Trisana so Roberts could get home in time."

The story ends with these paragraphs...

"In response to questions about Roberts' termination, Positronic Industries President John Gentry said the company had made cash donations to relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina victims, but he declined to talk about Roberts. The company manufactures electrical connectors.

Hardin said his mother-in-law's firing was "absolutely unethical."

"People speak of family values, and I don't see what's a more central family value than a grandmother stepping up in this sort of situation," he said.

"I sit here trying to imagine what kind of world it would be if grandmothers didn't make that decision."
(end story)

John Gentry (as was his father before him) happens to be a big contributor to GW Bush's presidential campaigns and a go to guy for Republican candidates in his part of Missouri...

If you want to let him know what you think, here is the contact info I was able to Google...
John Gentry, President
Positronic Industries Inc.
      423 N Campbell
      Springfield, MO  65806
      Phone:     417.866.2322
      Fax:     417.866.8358

If you write, be polite. If we turn this into politics, it won't help Barbara Roberts get her job back.

Originally posted to miguelmas on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 07:29 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just Called (4.00)
    and left a message with his secretary, very politely, asking him to re-hire her as "the least he could do given the circumstances of the hurricane."  Be nice when/if you do the same.

    "Dear God: Do you draw the lines around the countries? If you don't, who does?" Nathan -- Letters to God from Children, The Anglican Digest

    by md jeffersonian on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 07:26:22 AM PDT

  •  Always repubs (none)
    It's odd how it always turns out to be republicans who do this stuff. I mean, there must be some democratic businesses out there also doing stupid things. But I read the article originally and found myself assuming it was a repub and then thinking that I don't know that - why make assumptions. But here it is, he is a repub. Any examples of dem stupidity like this out there?
  •  Bastards. (none)
         That's all I can say. This type of behavior is exactly why a law like FEMA is necessary. Too bad it doesn't apply here.
  •  FMLA? (none)
    Wonder if her leave would have qualified under FMLA?

    Puts the onus on the employee to file for leave, but a flexible, family-supportive employer wouldn't hold her to restrictions for filing requirements given the nature of the situation.

  •  It is possible that the owner is a massive (none)
    ass.  However, from reading the Boston Globe story, I think there may be more to the story.  The employee herself said:

    "All I know for sure is that I had missed so many hours, and then this came up," Roberts said. "Usually you have a certain amount of vacation time, and I had used it up. You're also allowed so many unpaid days off, and I'd used them up, too. Fact is, I missed the allotted time and I got fired."

    In other words, she took took a significant amount of time off before this happened.  I don't think it's right to fire her, but to me it looks like it could have just been the spark in a situation where she was already on shaky ground. Of course, she could have been a fantastic employee who had an excellent reason for missing so much time prior to this, I just don't have enough information to know.

    •  Obviously I don't have enough information (none)
      to know either, but be aware that there are lots of jobs where you have a limited amount of "time off"-- say, two weeks a year-- and that is supposed to cover sickness, vacation, and any other personal matters.  Not all are so lucky as to have jobs where stuff like sick leave builds up to months.  So... just because she had already used up her leave doesn't necessarily mean she had taken "a significant amount of time off," if by that you mean an unusually large amount.
      •  She has taken (none)
        5 personal days + 32 hours of personal time prior to the babysitting time.   I would consider this a significant amount of time, considering it is only the beginning of Septembers and the holidays haven't rolled around yet.  

        And yeah, probably the majority of us have job's where we don't have months of sick time - me, for example.

        •  She Called Before She Left (none)
          She called before she left to see if she would be fired if she took the time... She was told the supervisor who would make that decision was out...

          I lived in Mexico for a while and set up an engineering company there... This firing would never have happened... they have laws that protect their workers, it's very difficult to fire someone who has not been caught stealing....

          I also remember the time in 1984 when I was younger and single, sitting at the happy hour bar in Phoenix when an absolutely stunningly beautiful woman sat next to me  (it was the only seat left) Her dress did not leave much to the imagination... we chatted a bit... she had just moved to Phoenix from Washington D.C. where she had been working as a "special consultant" to the Republican Party... she was working in the Phoenix area as executive secretary at an electronics company owwned by some Republicans... Republican Family values...

        •  Uh, that's nine days (none)
          you really consider that an excessive amount of leave for a year?  Like, say, you took 1 week's vacation and you were out sick 4 days and were saving 1 more day in case you were sick again.  And then, whoops!  There's no one to take care of your baby granddaughter during a natural disaster.  Just saying.  Perhaps your userid inflates my sense of your comment's misanthropic nature-- if so, sorry.
          •  Yeah, I do think that's an excessive amount (none)
            of time, again, considering it is September. Working in the private sector, most places I have worked allow employees about 12-15 vacation/personal days.  Every year, I budget so that I always have at least 2 or 3 personal days (at the very least) available, unless it is Decemver.  Granted, I am fairly young and don't have any kids, so this is easy.  I am aware that people who have children/health problems may not be able to do this.  
            •  9 days in 9 months is enought? Are you serious? (none)
              Moth companies I have worked for provide 2 weeks (or more) of vacation per year, and a separate allocation of 2 weeks of sick leave per year as a starting point.  I have heard of some cases where it was merged for 3 weeks combined vacation or sick leave.  If I was told I only received 2 weeks of combined sick and vacation I would be searching for the first job opportunity out of there, but that is because I have opportunities - for someone without options, to be told that less than one day per month is enough sick and vacation time is, in my opinion, criminal.  Particularly at a time when we have a president that takes 5 week vacations, and, as his pathetic reaction to Katrina shows, it is clearly not a working vacation.

              First the CEO Prez, Then the War Prez, Now the Disasterous Prez

              by brandido on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 10:40:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Ahhh, but... (none) have to love the line from Melanie Sparkman, HR hack at Positronics.
      "If they've been fired, they're not eligible for rehire - ever," Sparkman said.

      Link to an article from Columbia Daily Trib.  Just emailed the reporter asking for any updates.

      •  Response from Greg Miller (Trib reporter) (none)
        I haven't heard any updates. I know the KC Star ran a similar article on Sunday. In it, the reporter talked to the president of Postitronic, and I guess he was as cold and by-the-book as everyone else.

        I also guess a lot of people misread my article and started calling a Canadian company called "Positronics."

    •  I wonder about that, too, (none)
      but I still don't think it justifies firing considering what she was doing. I mean, you know, if a person has a heart.

      As I wrote my letter, I wondered if there's any local news outlets who could pick this up and write a "Barbara Roberts, Everday Hero" kind of story. A couple of our TV stations do this weekly, highlighting someone in the community who is doing something simple to make life better for others.

      government policies have real consequences in people's lives

      by Debby on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 08:17:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Remember the woman (none)
    who was fired from her job for having a Kerry sticker? Didn't the campaign hire her or something? Is there some Dem friendly company in the area which might hire Roberts instead? If we can't persuade this guy to take her back (what kind of ass would do this in the first place?!), what else could be pursued?

    government policies have real consequences in people's lives

    by Debby on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 08:09:05 AM PDT

  •  I just emailed him to get his side of the story (none)
    Perhaps he will reply soon.

    Don't back down when you have truth logic and reason on your side.

    by wmc418 on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 08:13:28 AM PDT

  •  Why would FMLA not kicked in? (none)
    There are provisions in the FMLA law for just this type of emergencies.
    •  Because FMLA is only for an illness or birth. (none)
      "Covered employers must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

      for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
      for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
      to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
      to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition. "


      •  That isn't really true (none)
        In her case she was need to care for her grandchild who was at that time dependent on her. Her employers are being total assholes. I got FMLA time for being with my ADULT children when my former xmotherinlaw  died. No questions, just go be with your family.  
  •  I happen to work for a very large (none)
    company who believes family should always come first. They decided it was FMLA but I could have taken unpaid personal leave up to 6 months without loosing my job. I should tell you too, they are a rather Republican company in ownership and management. I can't say any of us are overpaid, but they make up for it in other ways.
  •  I got a note tonight (none)
    from which read:


    The nation has never before experienced a disaster of the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina.  The effects of this tragedy were more far-reaching than could have ever been imagined.

    This event has caused Positronic Industries to recognize that its employee policies need to be updated when dealing with disasters.

    We regret the difficulties this has caused Barbara Roberts and her family.  An offer of reemployment was extended to her and she has accepted.

    Positronic Industries is now in the process of creating a company wide disaster policy.

    I sent them a very nice note in return. It may have taken us leaning on them, but--wow--they took the criticism and did something positive with it. I wonder if Mr. Gentry could sit Dubya down and give him a lesson on how that works?

    government policies have real consequences in people's lives

    by Debby on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 10:06:39 PM PDT

    •  Great work. The company never (none)
      would have done it without the spotlight you and others put on them. It's all about the (lost) money that this debacle would have cost them.
    •  I also got email from the Columbia Tribune... (none)
      Greg Miller, who put together one of the earlier pieces on this story, sent me an email just after midnight letting me know that Positronic Industries had rethought their decision.  

      Just another example of media & blog pressure at work.  Thanks all!

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