Employer is considering whether to demote or fire the employee
A vape shop owner has triggered a social media debate as he pondered over whether to fire or demote a worker for taking a mental health day.
The employer took to a Reddit forum to recount his experience with an allegedly unreliable worker, who he promoted to manager after “two solid years of good work as a cashier.” His struggles with the employee began one day when he woke up “three hours after the store should have opened,” only to be bombarded with messages from customers and other employees that the store was still closed.
“Customers have been trying to come [to the shop], but the store is closed,” he wrote. “Employees are showing up to work, but they’re locked out.”
The shop owner tried contacting the employee but did not get a response until “an hour before her shift was supposed to [be] over,” telling him that she needed to “take a mental health day and do some self-care.”
Although miffed by the response, the employer said that he tried to be “understanding because I know how important mental health can be.” But when asked why she did not inform him in advance, the employee said, “I didn't have enough spoons in my drawer for that.”
The shop owner felt the employee “cannot be trusted to handle the responsibility of opening the store,” so he gave her two options – to be demoted to her old position or to be fired.
The employee was not pleased and accused the shop owner of mental health and gender discrimination. The employee admitted that he could have responded better but stressed that the employee could have taken the time to call him.
His post caused a heated debate in the online platform with most users siding with the employer.
“She probably couldn’t cope with the extra pressure of the managerial position,” one commented. “Either that or something is going on in her out-of-work life.”
“I also have friends with serious mental health conditions like OCD and bipolar [disorder], and they would always do whatever they could to send a text if they couldn’t make it,” another posted. “They may be mentally ill, but they take pride in being professional in [their] jobs.”
One poster insisted that the shop owner acted reasonably because he was not taking away the promotion because of the employee’s mental health or gender but because she did not “follow the sickness policy of contacting [him] before her shift.”
However, another warned about the legal ramifications of his decision, posting: “You should check your local employment laws to ensure you haven’t missed some sort of process [that might come back] to bite you… I doubt you’d be able to just offer demotion or termination without using the right process… To be clear, you’ve done nothing wrong morally but make sure she can’t turn around and sue you.”
Some commenters also felt that the owner was partly to blame for the issue.
“Places will promote people into managerial positions, but then not give them any training on how to effectively manage themselves,” one said. “You end up with someone muddling their way through it until someone eventually gives them training months later, only they’ve potentially ruined their team’s morale or trust by that point.”
The employer agreed, saying “I promoted her past her level of success. She was an amazing cashier, so I figured I’d reward that. But being good at sales doesn’t really translate to being a good manager. I’d be happy to have her here, doing her old job.”