Thursday, April 23, 2009

Uncivilized Comments

Does anyone in cyberspace want to have a civilized discussion anymore? There was an article in the Herald of April 17th about some Monterey and Salinas area McDonald's employees suing their employer for allegedly demanding they work off the clock if they wanted to keep their jobs. Other alleged offenses were changing employee time records and requiring employees to use their vehicles on company business without mileage compensation.

The article mentioned that many McDonald's employees are immigrants who don't know the law all that well and are thus easily intimidated by their employers. That is not at all far-fetched. Heck, I've seen situations where all-American white skinned people with college degrees feel intimidated enough to work off the clock because "company policy does not permit overtime" even though there's more work to do. It does happen.

Several of the reader comments on the Herald's "Topix" forum were nothing short of racist, and others stated that the employees must be stupid. One person wrote:
"Just another ambulance chaser at work. And, the victims....well, they were fortunate to have any job at all. After this lawsuit, any employer would be afraid to hire time.....potential problems."
Yesterday I posted something more thoughtful:
"Businesses hereabouts often do intimidate employees to work off the clock, usually by a manager indicating that overtime is not allowed under company policy but still insisting that work be completed before anyone is allowed to leave. It's more common than you might think.

"According to the article, "The suit says workers were forced to work "off the clock" and had work hours shaved from their time records. It contends that workers were given inadequate time for rest and meals and were not reimbursed for using their cars to deliver supplies between restaurants."

"All of those things are illegal, but apparently that doesn't seem to concern many of you. Instead you assume the workers are illegal just because they're immigrants. I worked with legal immigrants in a local hotel for 12 years, and they were the hardest working and the most conscientious people I've ever worked with. The McDonald's employees have a every right to their day in court."
I checked that forum today and found my comment labeled with two Judge It icons, one for clueless and the other for disagree. Apparently civilized discussion isn't valued anymore.

I've been trying to establish a civilized forum for discussion of local topics. According to my web statistics, there have been numerous visitors, but almost nobody has signed up to participate. I'm beginning to think that civilized debate has gone the way of the dodo, in every sense of the word. Sigh.

Help me build a civilized discussion forum for the Monterey Peninsula at forum.montereypeninsula.info.


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