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He’s A Volunteer With The Jerk Squad

, , , , , , , | Working | August 21, 2023

I’m a volunteer firefighter and first responder. When I receive an alert, I HAVE to respond if at all possible, no matter where I am or what I am doing. My state has laws that generally protect emergency services volunteers from facing punishment from their employers if they miss work due to an emergency, as long as proper procedures are followed.

I have a regular job as a custodian at a factory. The factory gets new managers after being bought out by a larger company, and while things seem to go relatively smoothly at first, it becomes more and more apparent that the new managers are mostly concerned with the factory’s profit margin at the expense of employee well-being.

One day, I receive an alert while at work. I clean up my equipment as quickly as possible, tell a coworker who knows that I’m a firefighter, clock out, and leave for the emergency.

I’m gone from work for about two hours, and I return after the emergency is taken care of to resume my shift. When I get to the office to clock in, my new manager is waiting for me.

Manager: “Where were you?”

Me: “I had to respond to an emergency. I’m a volunteer firefighter and first responder with [Department], and we had a call. Everything is clear now, so I’m back to finish out my shift.”

Manager: “You can’t be taking off without permission. I’m going to have to issue a written warning.”

Me: “You realize that’s against [State] law, right?”

Manager: “Don’t play games with me. You left work without permission. That’s not allowed, and it warrants a written warning.”

Me: “I’m not going to sign it, but I will be going to Human Resources about this.”

Manager: *Scoffing* “You do that. See what they say. Meanwhile, I’m filing that you refused to sign a written warning for leaving work without permission.”

I did go to Human Resources, who very quickly recognized the potential blowback from my manager’s threats. The HR representative assured me that everything would be taken care of, so I went back to work. While I was gathering my equipment, I heard my manager being called to HR over the factory’s loudspeaker system. HR chewed him out REALLY thoroughly about it and threatened him with a few state labor violations if he carried through with any form of punishment against me.

The new manager and I both still work at the factory, but he no longer speaks to me. He also doesn’t try to interfere if I get called out due to an emergency alert, so it seems like he at least learned that lesson.

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