Montana is the only State that requires employers to have a good reason (or “good cause”) to fire an employee.
Under Montana law, “A discharge is wrongful … if … the discharge was not for good cause.”
Wisconsin, like most States, is not a “good cause” State and is instead an “employment-at-will” State. This means in WI an employer may fire an employee “for good cause, for no cause, or even for cause morally wrong, without (the employer) being thereby guilty of legal wrong.” Brockmeyer v. Dun & Bradstreet, 113 Wis.2d 561, 567 (WI SC 1983).
So, which State is better? Is Montana an employee’s promised land, or another attempt at utopia that’s bound to fail? Should Wisconsin be a “good cause” State? I don’t have an answer, other than to say WI law should be better to employees than it is.
A big-firm attorney was fired within days of having a miscarriage, and wrote a scathing email to her coworkers. You can read it here.
Based on the email and the facts as I know them, I believe the employee was right that she was treated unfairly. So, why is this post titled “How NOT to Communicate?” Because, it is not enough to be right. People who are in-the-right must still (1) pay attention to signs that your work environment is NOT right and NOT going to change (e.g. EARLY in your job tenure pay attention if your boss wants you to work huge numbers of hours, and shows little regard for your family); (2) proactively change your environment (e.g. seek a transfer to a more humane boss, or seek jobs/interviews with more humane employers who will respect your need to take time for family, pregnancy, etc.); and (3) communicate politely, IN THOSE INSTANCES communication could make positive changes happen.
It is a sobering fact that sometimes there is nothing you can change within your present environment. Sometimes you can be 100% right, and communicate with complete honesty and civility, and stand absolutely no chance of changing the status quo. Here, the employee was fired, the damage done. What good does a scathing email do? It surely made her feel better the moment she sent it off. But the effects linger, and readers debate whether or not her career may be finished.
This employee would have been better off remaining silent, allowing herself a clear route to a new job where she can cultivate her correct values, and leave the old environment behind to canabalize itself. But instead she took that parting shot, and as a result she can’t leave the old world behind.