Archive for April, 2011

Not an April Fool: employer sued over commute

Friday, April 1st, 2011

This story was sent to me and caught my eye: an NYC fashion exec planning to sue his employer over distress caused by his commute to work.

I must admit, after I read the story, I changed my mind as to what I would write. Initially, I almost thought it was some kind of joke piece – highly suitable for today, of all days. For sure, it wouldn’t happen in Manchester, UK. Once your boss had finally stopped laughing, he would probably kick you out of the office and tell you to put a more cheerful track on your iPod. There’s no way in the UK that a case like this would even get to court. The simple answer to having an unpleasant commute lies in your own hands. Either move house, or get a different job.

But as I read it, it’s not so funny, and not so clear cut. Mental health issues are not funny. They are not uncommon. They happen to a whole range of people; even people who consider themselves ‘strong’ and ‘okay’. They are immensely debilitating to live with, and extremely challenging to live around. So anything that helps reduce them is good, and anything that aggravates them is bad. An unhappy commute might not win a court case as being ‘the final cause of depression’ – but it certainly isn’t going to help. I genuinely wish Mr. Horodecki a swift and complete recovery, so that he feels hopeful once more.

Meanwhile, it’s up to us all to try that little bit harder to change the commute culture around us. Do we really need to be there, physically to do our work? The answer is sometimes yes, but often no. In the past, the ‘no’ made no difference. We had to be physically present as there was no alternative. Now there is.  In fact – many.

Whichever solution you choose, let’s agree to challenge the commute culture around us. As we see in this story, it can sometimes be more than just a minor inconvenience.

All the very best -

Al

PS: Don’t I get a pat on the back for resisting the urge to do an April Fool?  I did get the idea of pretending we had a Yuuguu ‘Legal Screen Sharing plug-in for broadcast’, where any pictures of defendants were replaced live by an army of pencil sketch artists, who could draw very, very quickly …