When Business Owners Should Keep Their Mouths Shut

Virginia C. McGuire shared a link on Twitter to a local story that caught my attention. It related to legislation that would require small business owners to offer seven paid sick days to their employees. And one Philadelphia diner owner spoke out against it.

The problem? He spouts suppositions as facts and admits that while he gives paid sick leave to his real estate employees he doesn't think his restaurant employees deserve the same (you know -- the ones who work long hours on their feet, surrounded by the public and other employees with a chance of actually catching something to begin with, and who then work around your food).

I had a few words to share about those dickish comments, but Patch idiotically doesn't allow you to comment without registering on their site (shame on you AOL -- that's completely unacceptable in this day and age). So I decided to share those thoughts here instead. For reference, one of the biggest things that pissed me off was this claim:

Secondly, my general manager reports to me that 50 percent of all employee health related call outs are because the employee has stayed out too late the previous night partying.

He then proceeds to say that he's not passing judgement on those employees (who he claims are party animals minus any actual facts to back that up), while practically in the same breath calling people who call out sick "irresponsible." Not passing judgment my ass.

Here's the original comment I tried to post:

Love the way he throws hearsay around as though it's statistically accurate. I don't buy for one second that employees are all telling the GM they're "sick" due to partying the night before. And short of that, you can't even begin to make that claim.

I'm a big diner-goer, but I won't be visiting his. He can keep his "irresponsible" sick employees the hell away from my food. Being a business owner myself I have to say if you can't afford the basics to make sure customers are taken care of (as in no sick-ass employees hacking all around their food), maybe you shouldn't be in business (or need to find a way to change that).

And if you can't tell the difference between real estate employees and those working in a restaurant you really need to go back to square one. Your priorities are half-assed at best. There is a huge difference between real estate employees and those who are around more of the public each day, exposing themselves to more potential illness.

There's an even bigger difference when you factor in the sometimes long working hours of restaurant work, being stressed and on your feet all day, and dealing with customer rushes unlike anything real estate employees would deal with. Oh yeah. And let's not forget that your restaurant employees are around more of your customers. Get them sick because of your cheap ass, and then see how long you stay in business.

So folks, what's the moral of the story?

  1. If you're going to hire employees, treat them with a bit of respect. It doesn't matter if you run a content mill or a restaurant. If you treat your workers like crap, you can't expect to get much more than that out of them.
  2. If you want to spout off online and disrespect your employees publicly, remember that your customer base can and will read that. And we won't like it. And you can't take it back. So don't be surprised when we tell you where you can stick it.
  3. Oh, and if you're a content company under the great big AOL umbrella, it just might be time to get with the 21st century.

That is all.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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16 thoughts on “When Business Owners Should Keep Their Mouths Shut”

    • Haven’t been in his diner since I’m not directly in Philly. But I can’t even imagine how much more pissed I’d be if this were an owner of one of my semi-regular haunts. I’d boycott them in a heartbeat, and probably wouldn’t hesitate to give the owner / manager a piece of my mind.

      So sorry this crap’s being pulled at one you frequent. It’s so sad when small business owners pass the “responsibility” off on someone else instead taking it themselves.

  1. LOVE this letter. As a daughter of small business owners I know how important it is to have loyal workers. And guess what, no one’s going to be loyal to someone who treats them like shit. People get sick, I don’t care if you don’t drink a drop of liquor, your going to get sick. It’s shitty enough to be working in a restaurant, I know cause I have, and Here’s progressive Mr. W basically saying he doesn’t give a damn. What the hell is the point of giving your employees healthcare if they can’t take the god damn day off to see the doctor? I’ve been there before, was going to go back, but now he can forget it.

    • I agree completely. Employers have to earn respect and stop expecting it blindly while they take advantage of employees (or in this case publicly insult them and throw accusations at them — if any employer pulled that shit with my reputation I’d have walked). Really. Does he not realize he’s potentially libeling his employees by telling the world half of those working for him are supposedly “irresponsible” and skipping work over hangovers (with no actual proof cited)?? I bet it’s going to reflect on them really well when they wise up and seek employment elsewhere and list this guy’s place on their resumes. “Oh… are you one of the ‘irresponsible’ drunkards he was talking about?” That’s a pretty moronic thing to do.

      What was really laughable were the comments defending him, trying to say he was only saying those who go out drinking were irresponsible (remembering of course that those are the same people he also claimed he wasn’t passing any judgment on). That’s not what he said. He didn’t say only those were irresponsible. He said the “responsible” ones were those picking up extra shifts for less pay because they’re not using their sick time off — which implies everyone taking a sick day and causing others to have to fill in is being irresponsible. People make me sick sometimes.

  2. As much as I would like paid sick days, I do not want the government telling the small business owner they HAVE to pay something to their employees. As an american, I can choose the type of work I do and who I do it for. If an employer decides against certain benefits, I can choose not work for him. If I decide that I have to take the job, because I need to work, then I will look for other employment while working.

    • While you’re entitled to whatever general opinion you want about government and small business regulations, I’m not sure it’s really relevant to the issue here. And this blog is not an appropriate place to air political opinions about big government, small government, or anything in between. The issue is not that this employer doesn’t think he should pay sick days (as he pays them to other types of employees). It’s not even that he doesn’t think the government should have the right to tell him what to do (he flat out says he’d be okay with them mandating unpaid time off). The issue is that he made a public spectacle of himself by insulting a significant portion of his employees, while at the same time implying to customers that it’s better his sick employees come into work around their food than be “irresponsible” and expect someone else to fill in for them. He essentially said his real estate employees are “responsible” so they deserve paid sick time and his restaurant employees are more “irresponsible” (based on no actual facts given in his letter) so they therefore do not. And that’s disgusting any way you cut it.

  3. I think you have just as much nerve assuming all of his employees come in sick as he does assuming they are I’ll from alcohol. You are making him seem like the bug bad wolf not wanting to treat his employees fairly but I wonder, have you ever worked in restaurant business? I do and what he is saying is true. A lot of people in this business party, A LOT, and so they are calling out for hangovers. And those that are sick call out too, and they accept that they are missing out on whatever they’d be making that day. He’s not saying sick employees come to work he’s just pointing out that in this business you don’t know. And furthermore, as a restaurant employee, I’m not upset about his statements. I work at a diner I don’t expect the same as those in a different career. Everyone who is in a tizzy needs to re-evaluate their position before they go spouting their ridiculous opinions all over the Internet in a blog

    • 1. Do not EVER put words in my mouth. Nowhere did I say that “all of his employees come in sick.”

      2. No. There is no “nerve” involved whatsoever in giving people the benefit of the doubt or expecting people to only speak to FACTS when they bitch in a large publication, potentially libeling people who work from them and hurting future job opportunities by implying working for him means there’s a 50% chance that you’re some irresponsible drunk idiot who calls off work because you’re hungover.

      3. Actually yes. He is saying sick employees should come into work if they don’t want to be deemed “irresponsible” in their boss’ eyes. He does not differentiate between hungover and sick employees when throwing that word around. He very clearly states that the ones who are “responsible” are the ones who have to fill in when others call out — therefore implying anyone calling out is irresponsible regardless of that reason.

      If anyone needs to reevaluate anything it’s this asshole who never should have “spouted his ridiculous opinions” in the media before thinking about what he was technically saying.

    • Oh, and yes. I have worked in a restaurant. We weren’t party animals. I also spent five years living with someone working in several restaurants and got to know a LOT of the employees. Do some of them party? Absolutely. Might some of them called off due to being hungover? Can’t say I doubt it. Did each of them do it SEVEN times each year (what he’s claiming will happen if he gives them 7 sick days)? Much more doubtful. But not nearly HALF of them were out getting drunk before having to work in the morning. Most of them worked their asses off, working multiple jobs trying to make ends meet. No one ever claimed this never happens. It’s the claim that 50% of his employees are guilty of bad behavior in a public media source without ANY factual data to back it up that’s a major problem and that shows complete disrespect for his employees. And he owes them, as a group, a very public apology.

  4. If I were his employee, I’d be his former employee. No way I’d work for a thoughtless jerk like that.

    Did he check his manager’s facts? Is he certain employees miss time because of partying, or is it his manager’s prejudice showing? And honestly, even if I DID miss work because of a hangover, I sure as hell wouldn’t tell my boss about it. The whole “my general manager says” assumption is nonsense.

    Here’s a tip for the owner – if you want more responsible employees, treat them with respect and pay more. If you feel you’re attracting “less responsible” employees, it’s because you’re paying crap wages that only the less responsible crowd will accept. Give them decent salaries, give them responsibilities and accountability, and try trusting them a little more.

    • If he checked the facts, there should have been facts included in anything he publicly released to the media. Anything else is just hearsay, and making that kind of accusation will leave him in extremely hot water should those comments come back to haunt any of those employees minus proof.

  5. surveyed 2 400 employers and more than 3 000 workers to find out the worst excuses that employees have used to ask for a day off. One worker reportedly explained the need for a day off by saying his foot was currently stuck in a garbage disposal while another offered the excuse that a chicken had just attacked his mother… ..Though these reasons may sound extreme or extremely stupid the study found that more employees are making up excuses to play hooky from work.

    • While that’s interesting (and amusing), it doesn’t really have any affect on this particular situation. First, I can’t speak to the survey other than the relatively small sample size w/o sitting down and evaluating the details (who was surveyed and how it skewed results, etc. — which they always do even though often not intentionally). The issue here isn’t that people are saying no one plays hooky. The issue is that we have an employer making blanket and borderline libelous statements in a public media outlet about a group of his employees, and using the ignorance and lack of any real evidence to support the specific statistics he states as justification for his other claims or complaints. Do love the garbage disposal one though. Have to imagine if I were currently stuck in one, calling an employer would be the furthest thing from my mind. 😉


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