Monday, March 30, 2015

Can a newspaper safely report an employment dispute, especially when it has political (or fairness) implications?

An article by Chico Harlan on the Washington Post Wonkblog reports that a manager at a franchised Days Inn in Pine Bluff, AR threatened to sue (the newspaper and perhaps the reporter) if the paper published an article involving him and/or a particular employee who would be terminated after talking to the Post about the small increase in the Arkansas minimum wage.  The link is here. The manager is reported to have made a comment about employees wanting “free money”.
It appears that she was terminated for talking to the papers, although the facts are a bit complicated.
Michelle Singletary tweeted the story today. 
There’s no question that it is difficult for people to raise families on low-wage work.  In some cases, poor choices have contributed to the workers’ situations.  Is this a legal situation, like my “conflict of interest”?  It hardly seems that she makes enough or has enough responsibility.  Is it whistleblowing?  Not exactly.
It’s probable not something that could be rectified in court.  But hopefully, other businesses in the area will offer hire the person, given popular outcry.  (That’s better than “gofundme”.)  And hopefully Wyndham Worldwide will step in and exercise a tighter rein on the acceptable conduct of management of its franchised properties, because stories like this are not good for its brand or its ability to provide customer service. 
Wikipedia attribution link for photo near Pine Bluff by Keith Wahl, Creative Commons 2.0 license

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