Monday, May 15, 2006

Too Crazy or Too Radical for Harvard

Monday May 15, 2006 Chronicle of Higher Education article reports on the decision o f the Massachusetts High Court that supported Harvard University's firing of a man with bi-polar disorder for "egregious workplace misconduct (conduct so inimical to an employer's interest that any employee would be fired for the same acts)." Among the things that the man in question did were: "created a Web site decrying low wages at the university,...brought his laptop computer to work and used it to access and update his Web site... distributed fliers advertising the Web site, and sang, clapped, and danced to protest songs playing from his Web site." He also came "to work in a brightly colored, traditional East Indian dress, made loud phone calls from his desk to his relatives, the police, and the American Civil Liberties Union."

My first thought was, if making loud, personal phone calls from your desk is a fireable offense, then why is my former office mate still around here? Okay, I admit there is a difference between this Harvard case where the man's job was receptionist in the lobby of a museum (shhhh!), and my former office mate whose desk looks out over the college's tutoring center (one fo the noisest locations at the campus).

My second thought, is that Harvard really has problems if "any employee" would be fired for creaing a website that decried low wages, and who advertised and called attention to that web site.

Alright, I get it, the man was in a public space in a position that requires quiet and decorum so that visitors to the museum may use it appropriately, but still, it indeed ANY Harvard employee would be fired for this type of behavior, I think that something is amiss.

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