We all know that HR is never dull, but sometimes it can get downright strange...
A photograph of Isac Aguero appeared on a recent Monday morning in the Journal
Times newspaper of Racine, Wisconsin. It had been taken the previous Saturday
night, at a "Mardi Crawl" event in downtown Racine. In the picture,
Aguero was holding a can of his favorite beer, Bud Light.
Apparently, that did not sit well with his bosses at CJW Inc., the area's supplier
of Miller Brewing Co. products.
Aguero, a forklift operator, says he was called into the general manager's
office that morning and told he was fired. He says he was not given a reason
for the dismissal and claims he never had any problems in his four years at
Contacted by The Associated Press, a CJW sales manager read a statement but
would not answer any questions about the particulars of the firing. "We
consistently remind our employees that drinking alcohol is entirely a personal
decision," the manager, Thomas Bey, said. "The image and reputation
of any company is determined in large part by the way its employees are seen
to behave. Our employees can and should be our best ambassadors."
Wisconsin is an "at-will" work state, meaning people can be fired
at a employer's discretion, as long as it's not for discrimination.
But a Milwaukee lawyer, Nola Cross, told the Journal Times that Aguero might
have grounds for legal recourse under another state law.
"In Wisconsin, employees are protected from discharge or other adverse
employment action based upon the 'use or nonuse of lawful products off the employer's
premises during nonworking hours,'" Cross observed, adding there are exceptions.
"The concept is that, while most employment is 'at-will' employment, Wisconsin
employers do not own their employees like feudal serfs--at least not while they
are off work time and outside the employer's premises."
Aguero, meanwhile, is trying to hire a lawyer interested in building a case
against his former employer. He's also sticking by his beer. "Bud Light
is my drink of choice and I'm not going to change," he said.