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Facebook Post Leads to Workplace Suspension

By Peter Levine posted in Employment Law on September 11th, 2013

According to multiple reports Tori Christina Jenkins, a black waitress at a Red Lobster in Franklin, Tenn., was allegedly left a racist message via a receipt after serving two customers. Rather than leaving a gratuity the customer apparently wrote, “None n**ger” in the tip section. Jenkins posted a screen shot of the receipt on Facebook and was then suspended by her employer.

According to her Facebook page, Jenkins has worked at Red Lobster in Franklin since December 2012. Both Jenkins and her father posted the screen shot of the message to Facebook. Her father noted that he hopes it will make people more aware “[t]hat we still have much ignorance to overcome.” Since posting the receipt Jenkins has received an out-pouring of support.

Suspension was company’s “standard procedure”

Red Lobster spokesman Mike Bernstein, citing the company’s “standard procedures,” said in an email that the company has temporarily suspended Jenkins with pay as a result of the incident. In this case the violation is for publicly posting a receipt. But Bernstein emphasized that Jenkins has not missed a single day of work because of her suspension and is still scheduled to work this week as usual.

Bernstein added that Red Lobster is “extremely disturbed” by the situation and is currently investigating to determine exactly what happened.

“We take this extremely seriously,” he wrote. “This kind of language is completely disgusting and has no place in our restaurant or anywhere else, and we are committed to getting to the bottom of what happened as quickly as possible.”

Jenkins has since pulled down the photo of the offensive receipt.

The Endless Work Day and Salaried Employees: Unpaid Overtime

By Peter Levine posted in Employment Law, Unpaid Overtime on August 28th, 2013

Work until the job is finished

A common practice of many employers in today’s weak job market is to expect “salaried” employees to work until the job is finished, often 12 or more hours in a day. The employer benefits from hours of labor that are free and are essentially unpaid overtime. While most workers are not in a position to confront employers about the situation, high level management might have the right method to address the problem.

Achieving balance: Working a 9-to-5 schedule

“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids. I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg prompted a number of questions when, in a video posted on Makers.com, she told an interviewer that she works a 9-to-5 schedule, namely “whatever happened to ‘work-life balance’?”

Many hope to take the shame out of achieving that balance.
Mashable Reader Jason Hunter commented “…5:30 as an on average time for going home should be acceptable for everyone — single or not single … family or no family — assuming you don’t come into the office everyday at 11 a.m.”

The ability to work flexibly is a perk

Too often across all industries, the ability to work flexibly is a perk – one that has to be earned over the course of one’s career, or something that’s on the books, but only approved in special cases.

A report from the Council of Economic Advisers, commissioned for a 2010 White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, shows flexibility is a best practice with many benefits including: increased productivity, reduced turnover and absenteeism, and higher morale and company commitment.

Sandberg’s admittance reminds us of just how little we’re asking for when we ask for flexibility – getting home to have dinner with our families, or taking an ailing parent to the doctor.

We know that workers of all ages and genders and across all industries want more control over how and where they work so they can have a life, with or without family. Until we lift the stigma to flexible work arrangements, we can anticipate that workers will be wary of actually taking advantage of them. It’s up to both employers and employees to re-establish the “balance” in “work-life balance.”

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