Friday, June 13, 2008

Another Tale from the Long, Wonderful History of American Employment-At-Will

Boss_button Brought you to by the sponsors of the ALI Restatement on Employment Law (actually via Local6.com):

A Florida woman was fired by a restaurant owner for laughing.

Darra Kollios, who works at the Trinity Grill in New Port Richey, said her boss approached her in front of a customer with one of the oddest requests she's ever heard.

"I had a customer at the bar and the owner came up to me and said, 'Please stop laughing,' Kollios said. "We giggled -- the guy at the bar and myself. And then I said, 'Are you serious?'

And he said, 'Yes, if you laugh again, you will have to go home."Kollios said she was then fired on the spot.

Kollios said she was shocked by her employer's actions."I will say that I don't have an odd laugh," Kollios said.  "I did ask a few people but it's not."The restaurant owner said a customer did not complain about the laughing. However, he prefers the restaurant to be quiet and cozy and Kollios' laugh prevented that from happening.

Under Florida law, employees are considered "at will," which means they may be terminated for any reason as long as they're not under contract and it doesn't involve age, sex or race discrimination.

We live in a great country, no? And don't start comparing me to Michelle Obama (who I admire) you right-wing bloggers! Great example, professors, for explaining employment at will to your students in employment law.

I found this on the Drudge Report and even his headline appeared to be stunned by the callousness.

PS

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2008/06/another-tale-on.html

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Comments

Yeah, Florida is quite the leader in this area. In one of my favs, a lawsuit by an employee fired for refusing to commit a crime was dismissed: "at-will employee failed to state cause of action for wrongful discharge when he was fired for allegedly refusing to participate in employer's violation of federal and state environmental statutes and regulations [which were alleged to constitute "criminal activity"]." Hartley v. Ocean Reef Club, Inc., 476 So.2d 1327 (3 DCA 1985). Although this result may have been partially addressed by some statutory changes, you would have hoped the august court might have found a way to do the right thing - instead, they gassed on about the parties' freedom to contract.

Indeed, in a case reported in the newspapers (there was no litigation), an employee was actually fired for reporting a crime:

"IN ANCIENT GREECE, they used to kill the messenger bearing bad tidings. In modern Florida, she just gets fired . At least, that`s what happened to a Jacksonville woman. Lillian Grant, an accounting clerk, called police the other day when she and some coworkers found dangerous metal staples had been baked into a $2 box of Girl Scout cookies. ... But instead of praising her for reporting such a potentially harmful case of food tampering, her bosses at the StateWide Collection Agency were angered, saying she failed to get permission to call police. So they fired her. (Good Citizen Got Bad Treatment, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, March 17, 1986)

Posted by: rps | Jun 14, 2008 6:51:13 PM

An employer should be able to, and can in Florida to a large extent, thank God, fire an employee for ANY reason. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO AN EMPLOYER'S MONEY. If your services are no longer desired, for any reason (including race, sex, or age, in my opinion, except in government jobs) the beneficiary of those services has every right to cease receiving them, unless bound by a contract that says otherwise. To say otherwise is like saying you shouldn't be able to cancel your cable TV service because the cable company needs customers. Nobody has a right to a job. Can't find one? Start a business. Or don't. It's your problem, and nobody else's. Entrepreneurship is what made this country great. (I do agree that big business and it's support from government is part of what is making this country awful and hurting small business- but big business is only able to do so because of big government.)

I am, however, completely in favor of publicizing firings for ridiculous reasons. While completely within the employer's rights, it is often bad business practice, and others should be warned or discouraged from working there.

Posted by: nef | Jul 13, 2009 9:00:01 PM

The comments of "nef" above speak volumes, and describe a mind set that many people thought died with the industrial revolution, to wit: "An employer should be able to, and can in Florida to a large extent, thank God, fire an employee for ANY reason. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO AN EMPLOYER'S MONEY [sic]. If your services are no longer desired, for any reason (including race, sex, or age, in my opinion, except in government jobs)... Entrepreneurship is what made this country great."

Welcome to Florida, the first state in the nation to adopt right-to-work under the Taft-Hartley Act.

Posted by: rps | Dec 7, 2009 5:51:20 AM

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