When we last checked in with the support staff at the law firm of Elizabeth R. Wellborn P.A., we discovered that more than a dozen of them had been fired because they wore orange shirts to work. Their excuse: they all wore orange on payday so they’d look like a group when they met for happy hour. Management didn’t buy it — they thought that members of the support staff were protesting something, and fired them on the spot.
As one commenter on our last post on this issue intelligently noted, “CHECK YOU PERCEIVED CONCERTED ACTIVITY.” One week later, it’s been revealed that some of the support staff may have been protesting after all. Almost half of them have lawyered up. But what, exactly, were they protesting?
According to ABC News, the Wellborn firm was treating its support staff like little document review monkeys:
[Donna] Ballman, [who represents six of the 14 support staff,] said some workers may have been wearing orange to mimic the uniform color often used by the Florida Department of Corrections. Those workers may have been protesting new work rules imposed by a new manager earlier this month. She said, for example, that they could not speak to coworkers over the walls of their cubicles, even to discuss work-related matters.
“They couldn’t go to the break room and get coffee while on the clock,” she said. “There were suddenly lots of new restrictions on them. Some of them were upset about those new rules.”
No coffee and no talking? What’s next, were they planning on blocking the doors to the exits?
Sure, you can get through the day without gossiping with your coworkers, but some people just can’t survive without their caffeine fix. No wonder these people were pissed off.
Ballman spoke with ABC News and schooled them on the National Labor Relations Act: “Firing because people engaged in activities or are suspected of engaging in activities for objecting to working conditions are illegal under the [NLRA].” Now that they’ve got a labor and employment attorney on board, we bet that some members of the support staff wish they hadn’t been so quick to disavow their involvement in the protest.
At the very least, this case will be a talking point for Ballman. Her new book, “Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired: Handle Your Workplace Crisis Before You Quit, Get Canned, or Sue the Bastards” (that’s a mouthful) is being released this fall. Let’s all cross our fingers, because she’s probably hoping that her clients go the “sue the bastards” route.