Thursday, January 19, 2012

Working Through Lunch

Imagine being fired, like this Chicago woman was, for working too much.
A report on Time magazine's website tells the story:

"Back in January 2010, Sharon Smiley, who worked as a receptionist and administrative assistant at a Chicago real estate company, clocked out of work but stayed at her desk to finish a project assigned by her manager. Another manager told her to she had to leave her desk and go to lunch. But she said no and continued working. That turned out to be a bad move. She was fired.

The company required that all hourly non-exempt employees take a 30-minute lunch break, and the issue was complicated by the fact that, as a receptionist, Smiley’s desk was at the front door of the company’s office. It seems that her managers felt it was unprofessional for her to eat in front of clients and potential clients who walked through the door."

When she tried to get unemployment benefits, she was denied them because she had been fired for cause. She fought that decision, and last week an appeals court ruled she could receive unemployment because she was not fired for gross misconduct.

Many people work through their lunch break. A good many of them eat at their desks, too. Maybe it's due to a special project; maybe they need to leave 15 minutes early, or maybe it's the only way to get all their work done and still get home at a decent hour.

Do you work through lunch, and/or eat at your desk? And does your employer have some kind of policy on such behavior?

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