HR Strange But True!
February 17, 2005

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 CJW.

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.

Source: The Journal Times

Is yours an "at-will" state? And if it is, are there exceptions to the rule? Be safe, not sorry. Order BLR's What to Do About Personnel Problems in [Your State], and know you're on solid ground when you choose to make a termination.
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