OP-EDS

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January 30, 2004

Response may have been rash

The U of C Hospitals fired 52 employees earlier this month for parking violations, claiming that the nurses, janitors, custodians, and other employees were parking in the hospital's garage without paying. The hospital's employment policy included a zero-tolerance policy on stealing—common among most businesses—and the employees were subsequently fired with what they claim was little or no warning.

Hospital officials claim they sent a memo detailing the consequences of continued violation of the parking policy. If this memo was indeed sent out, the University acted within its legal rights in terminating the delinquent employees. Just as a Gap employee would be immediately let go if he took home even a single piece of merchandise he had not purchased, these employees were in fact stealing expensive parking spaces and the hospital had every right to terminate their contracts.

Regardless, the move was heavy-handed on the hospital's part. It is unclear whether a memo was ever sent or if the employees were effectively notified of either the University's policies and the consequences. If this was in fact a cost-cutting move, the decision could backfire by affecting morale among other hospital employees. The hospital also lost a great deal of expertise by firing workers who had been employed there for years, or sometimes even decades. Stealing from your employer is wrong, and everyone knows it; unjustly terminating your employees is just as bad, and everyone knows that, too.