Stop the Excuses

Question:

I was fired for texting while driving.

Here’s the situation. My supervisor is the one who texted me in the first place and I only texted back a one-word answer, “no.” I only glanced down twice, once to see the message and then to hit the letters “no.”

I was told I violated company policy; however, our company policy prohibits talking on cellphones while driving, not texting. I need to know how to get my job back.

Answer:

While I don’t know the grounds under which your company fired you or how your employer learned you texted, if your employee handbook has a rule against employees engaging in illegal activity, your texting qualifies. Alaska statute 28.35.161 bans texting while driving.

If you want your job back, say you learned from the situation and ask to reapply for hire. The excuses you’re putting forth, that the text you responded to came from your supervisor, that your eyes only left the roadway twice and that the policy didn’t specifically ban texting, sound like weaseling. You could have pulled over into a parking lot and texted back.

Meanwhile, your employer needs to update their policy and make sure employees know they’re never expected to answer a call or text while driving, but instead to pull over and park before handling their cellphone. Multiple studies validate that texting and cellphone usage while driving dramatically increase the chance of an accident. If an accident occurs, it’s easy to verify texting or other cellphone usage, which means trouble both for the cellphone user and the user’s employer, particularly if the user was driving for work or conducting work on the cellphone.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

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One Comment on “Stop the Excuses

  1. I suspect the discharge was for more than just the quick text. It sounds like they were looking for a reason. I know I’m reading between the lines here, but it seems very odd that discharge is step one for a seemingly minimal offence. Texting and driving isn’t minimal, I know, but really? A one word first offence? I think I would start with a stern warning unless the one word offence was just the straw to break the camels back in a host of other bad behaviors.

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