July 8, 2012

How Not To Be An Adult

By Paul Bieber

This week’s blog will be a first for me.  I am including a link to a ‘You Tube’ video of a hockey coach intentionally tripping a 13-year old boy at the end of a youth hockey league game.  Before I discuss this, here is the link:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OETfWGtoLiM

I first saw this on the news last week and it really hit home.  The Coach, Martin Trembley, shaking hands with the opposing team, after Coach Trembley’s team won the Gold Medal in a league championship game, tripped a young boy who fell on another boy.  From my point of view, it was totally intentional.  One of the boys who fell broke his wrist.  The parents called the Police, and Trembley was arrested for assault.  I hope they throw the book, the kitchen sink, and yesterday’s sweaty socks at the guy.  At best he should be banned from all sports for life.  A turkey like this should be very careful come Thanksgiving day.  None of us are judge or jury, but I sure hope he gets a criminal record and publicly humiliated in a thousand different ways.

Back to business.  What can you do if a bum like this works for you.  Does his conduct away from work impact your business?  Yes, it does.  What if  customers say they don’t want to deal with you because this man is on your payroll?  What if other employees say they don’t want him on their work crew?  Can you fire him for his actions?

If your company is in a right-to-work state, you can fire him for any reason that is not protected by the Equal Rights Acts.  These include:

  • Age
  • Disabilities
  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • National Origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual Preference

In my opinion, if a customer wants to drop your company, you are totally within your rights to fire this bum, provided you do this for every other offense that is similar; but the odds of another person tripping a youth hockey player are greater than 2,453,807 to 1.

If you have a union contract, or work in a non-right-to-work state, you’ll have to prove an offender’s off-work actions have strongly hurt your business.  Should not be a problem for this case, but be careful on less obvious off-work antics. 

What if his offense wasn’t this repulsive?  What if an employee likes the Mets and everyone else likes the Yankees…can the Yankee fans protest and say they don’t want the Mets fan in their crew?  Actually yes, being a Mets fan is not protected by the government, but if you did transfer this employee, you would be a manager who needs to go back to school, learning how to manage people.  The following week another group of people would ask for coffee drinkers to be transferred away from the tea drinkers.  

How about something that does come up often.  A worker has poor bodily hygiene and no one wants to work downwind from him.  When you get this complaint, you do need to speak with Smelly Sam.  Don’t attack him personally, but do mention that he needs to change clothes daily and shower daily.  Maybe he doesn’t have enough money to buy more work shirts?  Maybe he has no hot water at home?  Offer to help where you can; advancing some money to buy shirts, or to fix his water heater.  Handling this privately and subtly will earn you the respect of Sam and the other employees.  If Sam does not take the actions needed, then he gets a written warning, a suspension and then a termination.  I sure hope this type of case doesn’t go this far.

You can’t fire Bob, the Bigot for his views, but you can take action if he shares these views at work and offends your other employees.  If Dirty-Old-Man Don makes an obscene comment to another employee, you have to take immediate and strong action.  Your business and you can be in a large pot of very hot water for allowing sexual harassment.  Don’t laugh it off as Don-being-Don.

Enough for now.  Remember, when you are a coach at a youth hockey game, or managing a crew of workers, always be the adult role-model.