2009-3-9 05:31:00

Martha writes:

"I agree in principal with someone walking away from an act of unfair termination, but I disagree that this should be everybody's choice.

"It might not be the best word for it but workplace bullying (also described as mobbing, psychological violence and emotional abuse) has far more serious consequences than being fired. Most Targets (we do not call ourselves victims) suffer serious health harm, financial loss, loss of health insurance (when they need it most), eviction, loss of relationships and even future career loss."


I'm not sure what you mean by "bullying." It appears though the only thing that would cause a financial loss and loss of health insurance is losing your job.

Yes, it's tough losing a job but to give Big Brother power to tell an employer that he cannot clear out what he thinks is dead wood in his own business violates the principle of free will.

Suppose you have a circle of 10 friends who are demanding of your time. You do not have time for them all. Two of them do nothing but irritate you when you get together so you cut off the friendship. Now the two are upset and they cry discrimination. Suppose they had the power of Big Brother to demand you reinstate then as friends even though their friendship is a drain on you.

If the government did this to any of us we would complain, but a businessman has to make a similar decision. He may think, right or wrong, that Jones has to go because he is not productive. Jones can claim that the firing is unfair and sue him if he wants.

I worked on construction through the AFL-CIO [The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations], for about 4 years back in the 1960's. In some jobs I worked as a general laborer but usually worked as a hod carrier for either masons or plasterers. Hod carrying is about the most physically demanding construction job you can do, but I enjoyed the challenge.

The job consisted of building scaffolding and supplying the masons with all the blocks or bricks they need as well as mixing and supplying the mortar. For plasterers the job was similar except we also mixed and supplied the plaster.

The average job lasted maybe 6 weeks and then you had to wait for the Union to call you for another job.

I had a heck of a time in the beginning because a lot of jobs I went on I was "let go" after only a day or two. I didn't even get a chance to prove myself.

Finally, I figured out that I was being fired because the guy in charge saw I had an injured hand and either thought I couldn't do the job or I may be a danger to myself or others moving heavy wheelbarrows of bricks, sometimes high up on planks on scaffolding.

On the other hand, I knew most bosses would be happy with me once I had a chance to perform. To increase my odds I started wearing my work gloves over my bad hand at all times for the first two weeks of work. Then after I gained their confidence I would let them see I had an injured hand.

When I started doing this I found I wasn't laid off the first few days but was kept on to the finish of the job. The boss was usually startled to learn I had a handicap and sometimes commented on how surprised he was that my handicap didn't seem to interfere with my work.

Now this happened before they had discrimination laws, but I didn't hold anything against those who fired me and wouldn't have taken them to court if I could have. I could understand why I made them a little nervous and just had to figure out a way to work around it.

As far as bullying goes I think it's hard to find bigger bullies than some of the coarse bosses in construction. I had a number of bosses who shouted in my face and insulted me on a regular basis. One boss shouted at me so much he was hoarse most of the time. I needed the money so I tuned them out and just did my job.

After moving on from construction I worked for about a dozen companies in a row that went out of business. One of them had been in business for 150 years. I finally decided that someone was trying to tell me to work for myself and have been self employed since 1971. I haven't gotten rich, but at least no one was able to fire me.

What was a lot more disturbing effect of my handicap was its effect on girls when I was a teenager. Immediately after my accident the girls treated me differently. I had an extremely difficult time getting a date until I was 21. After this it was quite easy for two reasons. Females mature a lot when they reach 20 and I developed my personality to a more workable stage.

I can see that in extreme circumstances that an employee should have redress for certain harmful things, but do not support laws that interfere with an employer running his business as he sees fit, even if he makes mistakes.

Feel free to disagree -- no wrath of God will be called down.


"When you hire people that are smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are."
  -- R. H. Grant