For 15 plus years, Pamela Graham anchored the news on WSPA-TV. Now, she’s making news in a way she would rather not, and with which many people can identify. The Spartanburg Herald Journal reported today that, after being absent since February, Graham will not return to her anchor chair. A friend reportedly told the newspaper that the station dismissed her last week, while she was continuing her treatment for whooping cough.
Speculation immediately surfaced about whether Graham would sue for wrongful dismissal. She might, but I suspect it would be an exercise in futility. Heartless as it may seem, you can be, and people often are, fired for being sick or, more specifically, for not being available to work. Since 1993, when Congress passed the Medical and Family Leave Act, your employer has been required to give you 12 weeks to recover, but after that, if you can’t work, you can be fired. I may be wrong, but I doubt it. I’ll get a second opinion today from employment attorney Andy Arnold.
Of course, what’s legal and what’s right are two different things. People can still hold it against Channel 7 if they want, but from what’s been publicly reported, WSPA-TV has been more generous than most employers would be, providing the employee is not difficult to replace. They gave her six months. The law only requires three months. The law was passed because employers were routinely firing people after two or three weeks, and our compassionate lawmakers thought that was unfair. Even Bill Clinton and a liberal congress did not impose a mandate of more than 12 weeks.
News anchors, regardless of their popularity, are not difficult to replace. A lot of people are eager to sit in Pamela’s chair. Audiences are fickle. They get comfortable with a new anchor rather quickly. There are a lot of talented people eager to work as an anchor in a market the size of Greenville/Spartanburg.
Illness is expensive. It has consequences. One of those consequences is that it could cost you’re your job. It’s not your employer’s fault. As much as your employer might like you, he has to do what’s best for the business. Pamela Graham’s story offers a very public lesson for all of us. No one is indispensable. We all need to assume that one day, something beyond our control will cause us to lose our job. Do whatever you can to be prepared for that day. (Feedback)
What exactly is going on in Iraq? Is it sectarian violence or civil war, and is there a difference? For the Bush administration, it makes all the difference in the world. If Iraq is, or will be, bogged down in a civil war, the pressure for us to leave will be overwhelming. Some believe that’s what’s happening now. The Bush administration and the new Iraqi leaders say it is not. We’ll explore this question today. If you have an opinion you’d like to offer in