Adventures in Questionable HR Management

HR Management Award.jpg

Yes friends, it's time once again to issue our Questionable HR Management Award Grand Prize. As you know we periodically hand out this prestigious award to a company that has shown particularly bad HR judgment and a complete lack of common sense.

Today the award goes to Packaging Corporation of America in Counce, Tenn. for its inadvisable termination of an employee in response to said employee's election to the Mississippi State Senate. According to the Clarion Ledger, Freshman state Sen. Eric Powell learned two days after his swearing-in last week that he had been fired from his regular job. Powell, said his firing came as a result of his election as a state senator in Mississippi.

"All of a sudden, with no phone call or anything, just a letter in the mail after 11 1/2 years of service," said Powell, who is married and has three children. "That's the kind of thanks I get for hard work and loyalty. It's the kind of thing I came to the Senate on behalf of working people to fight."

Labor Prof Blog, who put me on to the story, noted that it seems pretty clear that the termination was directly related to Mr. Powell's election. This was especially boneheaded given the fact that the company initially encouraged Powell in his run for office.

Now thanks to this bizarre HR snafu, instead of having an employee in the state senate, PCA likely has:

1) a union grievance (Powell was a union member and the collective bargaining agreement specifically allows for employee leave when running for public office and only requires resignation if the office obtained is a full-time job);

2) a lawsuit (many states have statutory prohibitions on retaliation against employees for serving in public office); and

3) a state senator that is less than enamored with the company.

We therefore proudly award Packaging Corporation of America our Questionable HR Management Award! Feel free to print out the award emblem and wear it with pride.