Tragic outcomes

2009

With the economy turning increasingly bad, the office sure is a lot less fun than it used to be these days. Unfortunately, we're starting to read more and more stories about people losing their jobs, then their way in life, and finally feel they have no other choice but to do what this man did.

I have no right to judge this man, nor does anyone reading this; after all, we cannot claim to know what was going through his head. In fact, as hard as it may be given the details, it's important to look at this story free of emotion to try and understand what brings a man to this point.

Whatever problems he had going in his life, the root of the matter is that he (and his wife) were fired for lying about their income in the hopes of getting reduced cost child care for their five children.

As someone who pays for childcare, I can certainly understand what a strain of the budget day care or afterschool care can be. To me, this offense is hardly as drastic as what investors and CEOs have been convicted of in recent years. So, based on their financial declaration, both of them were terminated (isn't at-will employment great for some?) and, I'm going to bet, weren't entitled to any sort of unemployment.

While I'm sure than many readers will feel that such people bring it upon themselves and "got what they deserve", I'd posit that perhaps the employer needs to be a little more understanding of personal circumstances. While we won't have all the elements of the story, there's nothing indicating that just perhaps a reprimand or some other punishment other than an immediate dismissal was levied or even considered. Wasn't that at least an option?

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Older Comments

You're forgetting one important thing.... only readers in the US really understand this story. As long as health care here is considered a 'perk' and people are reliant on their employers, these stories will become more and more common. This system of making people rely on the good graces (or not) of their employers for health insurance is inherently flawed.

If health insurance is not readily available, you are at the mercy of your employer, and if you leave that employer- voluntarily or not- you are left without good options (and as someone who spent more on health insurance than rent last year I assure you that's the case). The system is designed to encourage both insurance companies and employers to find every possible excuse to cut loose anyone who might actually need the services. The system is dysfunctional. Yes, this is a tragedy on many levels, not the last of which had this person had a good health care plan and access to help it needn't have ended up this way.

Wayne Turmel

Unfortunately, this is and may become more common. The economy has forced people into desperate actions. Don't get me wrong, I am not condoning lyiing and cheating but these difficult times need to be mitigated by employers who are respectful of their employees and demonstrate compassion. I have consulted with many employees around how to deal with the 'people aspects' of the economic crisis. They must create a culture of open communication v. 'hunkering down' and isolating. Now, more than ever, senior management and ownership must show their concern for their employees. This will minimize bad outcomes and keep their employees engaged in helping the organization's efforts to survive and maybe even thrive.

Bernie Dyme Chicago, Illinois