Saturday, July 07, 2012

Things happen ... without union contracts

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Lifeguards, like other first responders, are trained to react to life-threatening situations within a moment's notice rather than consult a corporate handbook on rules and regulations. So when Tomas Lopez, a 21-year-old lifeguard on duty at Hallandale Beach, saw a swimmer in distress he raced 1,500 feet to the man's aid. For doing his job, Lopez was fired by a private contractor because he went beyond the perimeter of his assigned lifeguard zone." "Living up to the name 'lifeguard'".

The private contractor's misconduct is entirely lawful under Florida's "employment-at-will" doctrine. That arcane legal doctrine that permits Florida's employers (without contracts) to abuse their employees.

The solution, of course, is for employees (here, lifeguards) to insist on a contract with their employers; a contract with language prohibiting discharges unless they are for "just cause".

The problem with that, however, is that if a Florida employee merely asks her employer for a contract - but fails to make such request together with her fellow employees (what the law calls "collective" or "concerted activity"), she can be fired for simply asking. You read that right, employers are entitled under Florida's employment-at-will doctrine to terminate lone employees who ask for a contract. Indeed, Florida employers don't need to have any reason at all to fire an employee.

You would think Florida's "librul" newspaper company editorial boards would be clamoring against the injustices of employment-at-will. Of course they don't, because, after all, they work for newspaper "companies".