A federal judge in Washington DC has struck down most of the key provisions of three executive orders signed by President Trump in May. The effect of these orders would have made it easier to fire federal workers. The orders specifically reduced allowable time for remediation after a negative performance review and also limited the amount of on-duty time union officials could spend on that work. The Trump administration now has the option of appealing this decision to the federal circuit court.
Source: The New York Times, August 26, 2018
Honoring an Investment
A firefighter is nearing the end of her probationary year and is required to pass certain skills tests as part of completing probation. This particular firefighter has years of successful experience with other fire departments before joining this one. However, on the occasion of her final probationary testing, she does not have her best day. Among other factors is that she is scheduled to do the most physically taxing evolution-- a solo raise of the 20 foot ladder--last among all others, when everyone is exhausted. She is able to do it, but by her own admission, it is not her best effort.
As a result of these test results, the department terminates the firefighter. Now she is suing the department for discrimination based on disparate treatment, citing this and other incidents as proof.
This case has yet to be decided. But it does bring up a critical question. Why would this or any fire department want one of its members to be fired based on one incident such as this? Why wouldn't they rather be doing everything possible to insure that all their first year employees, who they have already invested so much time and effort and money in, succeed?
In this woman's lawsuit, she claims that this department did in fact invest in some of its probationary firefighters, supporting them and allowing them to redo some skills testing after "critical fails." She said she was never allowed the same accommodation.
It is natural and even appropriate that some people who begin the process of becoming firefighters do not make it to completion. Some find that the job is not a good fit for them, some present intractable traits that are disqualifying. Usually these issues arise fairly soon in the fire academy or probationary year. To terminate someone who has been otherwise successful based on a single event on a single day after more than a year on the job makes no sense.
Becoming a firefighter is a huge investment, for the candidate and the department. Departments should be committed to the success of all those who similarly commit themselves to the success of their departments. In this case, it seems that there were many other potential outcomes that would not have resulted in litigation.
Source: Anna Araujo v. City of Anaheim, Superior Court of the State of California
© Linda F. Willing, 2018