Monday, June 23, 2008

5 Ways to Lose Your Job

Bungee There are obviously far more than five ways to lose a job, but Yahoo! News looked at five lifestyle activities that could result in a pink slip.  According to the experts they quoted--our very own Rick Bales and Paul Secunda:

"Most workers in the private sector don't understand that, unless they live in Montana and Arizona, their job is at-will," Paul Secunda, an assistant professor of law at the University of Mississippi, told Yahoo! HotJobs. "At-will means an employee can be fired for good cause or no cause at all," Secunda said.

Federal job protections include gender, race, religion, and national origin, as well as disability. "Some state laws forbid discrimination on other bases, including sexual orientation, or status as a smoker," said Rick Bales, a professor at Northern Kentucky University/Chase College of Law. Smokers in the tobacco-growing state of Kentucky, for example, are safe from termination, he said.

And, yes, blogging is one of the five lifestyle activities (under the "speech" category).  The full list is:

  • Smoking, drinking, and overeating. Due to the cost of health insurance, more and more employers view "unhealthy" habits as a threat to their bottom line.
  • Risky behavior. Likewise, a company might see your bungee jumping hobby as a liability.
  • Speech. Will your employer consider your blogging to be destructive griping?
  • Romantic relationships. Dating someone at a competitor's company has landed employees in hot water. And some employers might take issue with unmarried coupling or even same-sex relationships.
  • Political activity. Volunteering for Obama could be trouble if you have a pro-McCain boss, and vice versa.

So, maybe it's better to lay off blogging about your bungee-jumping trip while at work wearing an Obama button and smoking a cigarette with your co-worker/significant other.


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You left off "union or protected concerted activity" from your list of "Federal job protections." Was this intentional, i.e., because it is not, in your view, truly protected?

Posted by: Dennis Walsh | Jun 23, 2008 11:20:02 AM

Arizona? I know about Montana's statute, but what protections exist in AZ?

I know that AZ will uphold a written "for cause" contract, but what's PS referring to?

Posted by: kent | Jun 23, 2008 4:44:53 PM

No, Kent, that was what I was referring to (, but he did not get my full quote about the law in Arizona.

Posted by: Paul | Jun 23, 2008 8:19:32 PM

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