Parental leave is a benefit people earn. It’s not cause for indentured servitude when you return from it. And it is decidedly not “sitting on your ass.” All of this coming from a more senior attorney at the employer suggests reasons that the associate might have wanted to leave to begin with. Zashin and Rich isn’t a huge firm, but it’s not tiny, either. It has 30 attorneys currently listed on its website, so for one person to leave to spur such possessive outrage suggests a toxic culture.
As Dileno’s text to the associate started spreading through legal social media, with a LinkedIn post drawing more than 13,000 reactions, Zashin and Rich tried to do some damage control with a statement that didn’t really help.
“Recently, I became aware of an inappropriate and unprofessional text that was sent by an employee at our firm to a former employee,” firm partner Stephen Zashin wrote. “That single text was sent in the heat of the moment by an employee upset by the belief that the former colleague while on paid leave sought employment with another law firm. Within days of her return to work, she took that new job. That’s not an excuse for the offending text, which should not have been sent. That single text has prompted some to question our commitment to fair treatment, diversity and other values that our firm holds dear and believes in fervently.”
Zashin went on to defend his firm’s “record of how we treat our employees” and its commitment to working parents, saying “the firm is taking corrective action” as a result of the Dileno text, and “taking a purposeful look at our culture and what may need to change.” Conspicuously absent as a thing that may need to change at the time of the statement was Dileno’s continuing employment with the firm, although it didn’t take too long after that attempt at damage control for Zashin and Rich to decide he had to go. They tried, people jeered at the repeated mentions of a “single text” and the language that implicitly agreed with Dileno’s logic, they moved on.
Dileno’s text struck a chord with many readers, especially women, because the underlying idea—that women should be more grateful for getting basic benefits like leave after having a new baby—is so common, if not usually put in writing in that kind of language and tone. (By an employment attorney, no less!) And this is what it looks like to be one of the privileged minority of workers who have access to paid family leave: just 23% in March 2021. Meanwhile, paid parental leave is standard in most other countries. It’s just one more area of basic workers’ rights on which the U.S. lags.
Happy New Year! Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter is on the show today to talk about the wild garbage fire that was the Republican speaker of the House vote. Kerry and Markos also break down what this onionskin-thin conservative majority can and cannot do in the coming year, as well as what the Democratic representatives can do to make Kevin McCarthy’s life just that much tougher.
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