Sunday, September 23, 2012

So That's What the Underside of a Bus Looks Like...

Very recently, Mr. Remarkable Monkey was suddenly and unexpectedly forced to join the ranks of the unemployed. Yes, friends, he was fired from his job... the same job where just a few short months ago he received high praise and a big raise. How is this possible, you ask? It's quite simple really. He was railroaded. He was thrown under the bus and fired for a mistake someone else made.

What happened was a piece of specialized equipment his company makes was shipped without a necessary small part. The equipment is tested before shipping, but the fitting used in the test procedure evidently doesn't fit with that small part in place. And in this case, it was never put back on before it was shipped to the client.

Only two people in the small company work on that particular model... Mr. RM and his supervisor, who is the son of one of the co-owners of the company. Mr. RM is 99.999% sure he did not work on that particular piece of equipment. But because there are no quality control measures or procedural checklists, he has no way to prove that he didn't build that one. Even in the unlikely event that he DID build it, is it really better to fire someone for a mistake instead of learning from it and improving procedures to prevent it happening again?

When the other owner (not the supervisor's father,) who is a hothead, discovered it had been shipped without that little part, a screaming match ensued between him and the son/supervisor. Mr. RM happened to be in the same room working at the time, but was smart enough (we thought) not to get into the middle of that, even when asked if he had anything to add.

The next morning, son/supervisor pulls Mr. RM outside and tells him he has to let him go because of the mistake. WTF?? Co-owner wanted someone's head to roll, and it wasn't gonna be other owner's son's. But seriously... son/supervisor KNOWS it wasn't Mr. RM's mistake, and evidently didn't have the cojones to own it himself. (Or if he did, it didn't make a difference to Hothead.) Instead he spouted some BS about Mr. RM having been on thin ice for a few months now because of a couple of loose screws on another piece of equipment.

Yes, there were loose screws... once... and Mr. RM accepted the blame for those readily, learned from it and it never happened again. Not once did anyone ever tell him he was on "thin ice" for that one mistake or for any other reason. It should also be noted that son/supervisor has also made critical errors from time to time, as has hothead co-owner who demanded the firing. With no standard procedures or quality control checks, mistakes are bound to happen from time to time, by everyone employed there.

Keep in mind that both son/supervisor and another superior signed off on the piece of equipment before it shipped as well. If they were the last checkpoint, why didn't they do a better job of ensuring the missing part was replaced before shipping it? Why aren't there better quality control measures in place? Why haven't they developed a procedural checklist to avoid simple mistakes like that? Maybe it's just me, but it seems like if it's that damn important, there would be a better system in place. What are they gonna do next time someone makes a mistake? Fire them too? They either won't have many employees left, or they'll be perpetually training new hires.

But the soap opera doesn't end there. Rumor has it that another shouting match involving son/supervisor happened last week, leading to a subsequent meeting with him at HR. We have no idea what happened there, but speculation is that father/co-owner/founder may have said something to effect of "If he goes, I go." And then there would probably be no company, because we think he basically started the it so son/supervisor would have a job in the first place. Again, this is just speculation.

The whole thing just stinks. Mr. RM was given no written notice of termination or any info such as final paycheck, COBRA, etc. He spoke with the parent company's HR department and was told there's no severance and COBRA info will be mailed to him. He requested an exit interview and was told they don't usually do that when someone is terminated, but she'll send him the paperwork and is interested in what he has to say. I'll bet she is! Especially after the continued drama with son/supervisor! What a freakin' circus. The other employees are shaken up and wondering when the axe will hit them, too. I wouldn't doubt that resumes are being dusted off right now.

If we didn't live in Florida, Mr, RM might have grounds to pursue legal action for wrongful termination. Unfortunately, Florida is a "right to work" state, which apparently means you can be fired just because the boss doesn't like the way you look. Add the lack of documentation to support Mr. RM's claim, and it would be even more difficult to prove. So there's little reason to even go down that path.

In the meantime, we'll be okay. Fortunately we're not carrying a lot of debt, so we'll just tighten our belts for a while and soldier on. I'm betting Mr. RM lands a much better gig in time. He's feeling a bit stunned, anxious and disoriented right now, but has managed to handle the whole thing with grace and dignity. I'm very proud of him. He deserves so much better than what he got from that company, and now he has the opportunity to find it. He is quite remarkable in his own right!

As for his former supervisors and their company, Mr. RM is being a much better person about it than I. He's not quite comfortable with me ranting about the situation on this blog, and I readily admit there may be other pertinent facts that are unknown to me. But dammit, I'm mad! And personally, I can't help hoping that they reap what they sow.

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