Be Kind to Your Employees – The Bad Publicity Isn’t Worth It!

A recent spate of highly-publicized stories about employees quitting their jobs have given our attorneys a good laugh-and caused us to think about good employer-employee relationships.
The most popular story so far is that of Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant who quit after he was hit in the head with a piece of luggage while trying to convince an unruly passenger to stay in his seat. It appears that after being hit, Mr. Slater lost his cool, used the airplane’s intercom system to curse at the unruly passenger, grabbed a beer from a beverage cart, and then made a dramatic exit from the grounded plane by deploying the plane’s emergency shoot. CNN reports that during his intercom rant, Mr. Slater stated that “I’ve been in this business 28 years and I’ve had it.”

A similar story involving a woman named Jenny is also making the rounds. Jenny apparently quit her job in a series of pictures circulated to her entire office. Jenny was spurred to action after overhearing her boss call her a HOPA, which she later learned stood for “hot piece of ___.” In response to her boss’s inappropriate remarks, Jenny shot 33 pictures of herself holding a whiteboard. Each picture included different text on the whiteboard, describing the unpleasant treatment that Jenny had suffered as an office assistant. Among the pictures was one revealing that her boss spent 19.7 hours per week playing online games.

Both Steven and Jenny are currently receiving a tremendous outpouring of support online. This support likely derives from the fact that everyone has had a bad job, and wished that they could quit with gusto! As TIME noted, Slater “got to do what so many people wish they could do-tell off a rude customer, then quit, triumphantly. Which makes him, for today at least, an Internet folk hero.”

While these stories are endlessly entertaining to the on-line community, no employer wants to be on the receiving end of this type of publicity. So treat your employees well, and minimize the incentive for them to quit with a flourish. A new rule of thumb might be that if you wouldn’t want your conduct circulated to the office via 33 whiteboard images, you probably shouldn’t be acting that way.

{Update: The day after this post was published, the “HOPA” story was revealed to be a fake. Nonetheless, the lesson for employers–be nice to your employees–is still applicable.}

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