It was only a couple of weeks on the job when a situation unfolded with one of our daycare workers. I was seated behind my desk with this now ex-employee sitting on the other side with her father seated next to her and their lawyer on the father’s cell phone on speaker. It was my job to stop the potential lawsuit forthcoming and resolve this situation as quickly as possible. How did it escalate to this and what type of organization had I just joined?
The daycare had just opened a few weeks earlier. It was licensed and therefore needed to follow the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Education in terms of hiring employees. What this meant is that we needed a certain percentage of staff who had training in early childhood education, three different levels, and consequently different ways of meeting certain ratio requirements when working with the children. However, like most things in life there are exceptions and as long as the employee was working on their schooling they could be granted a letter of exemption, granting them a certain level of education in some sort of pseudo way while they worked on their schooling. Consequently, when the original hiring for the daycare was done – about a month before I officially started with the organization – the vast majority of the staff began with no education but were granted exemptions.
The reason for this over proportioned under qualified staffing ratio was simple; all of the staff currently employed in this new daycare had agreed to call themselves Christian. In other words at some point during the hiring process it was determined that because this was a Christian daycare what was most important was whether the potential employee was also Christian. Any indication of such and they were hired, qualifications be damned. So, it was reasonable to say that everyone who worked in the daycare knew what the Sunday school answer was and they loved children but it wasn’t entirely clear whether or not they were trained with the skills necessary to take care of 60 children.
What made this situation even more volatile was that the previous executive director was overly proficient with social media, often stalking every single one of her employees on every conceivable venue related to social media. Somewhere in that whole realm the executive director had found out the weekend plans for one of the daycare employees – that is to say that the daycare employee had planned on going to a neighboring city to spend the weekend with her boyfriend.
Armed with that knowledge the executive director marched over to the daycare and confronted this employee in front of all the other employees, asking her whether or not she was planning to fornicate with her boyfriend this weekend. Shocked and bewildered the employee had no idea how to answer, however the damage was already done and the executive director ended that confrontation by firing the employee on the spot. Not for fornicating, but for potentially planning to fornicate. It was this mess that I now needed to deal with in my office with her father and their family lawyer.
Having extensive experience in human resources and the labor code I knew that the executive director was way out of line and that this was not going to go anywhere good. I immediately rescinded the termination, offered her job back with lost wages, along with our deepest apologies that this even happened in the first place. However, given the embarrassment of the situation it was unlikely that she was going to return so it ended up that I paid her the equivalent of a severance, provided her with a glowing reference letter and a written apology. This was enough to appease all three of them and I closed the file on this incident, wondering how much longer it was until the executive director left.
This form of Christianity – the imposed moral authority on everyone around us seems so abundant in its workers. It is almost as if the recruitment strategy for some churches is that upon membership you too can carry a badge and impose moral judgement on your neighbor. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and even Matthew warns against such hypocrisy, telling us to take care of the plank in our own eye before we turn our attention to the splinter in our neighbor’s. The last thing I want to do is to speak with moral authority to another person – I know enough about my own moral struggles, trying to figure out what is right or not in my own life – how could I possibly get my shit together enough to speak against another?
But, perhaps that is the answer. It is simply easier to do so – to speak against another in condemnation and judgement. Membership within some religious structure only seems to accentuate that fact, like our ‘get out of jail free’ card. Not being connected to such an organization I find that being genuine and authentic is a much harder task – much more complicated, because I do not have a group of people standing behind me supporting my accusation of another. I stand alone and in my aloneness I seek companionship and connection with one another. Such a position means that instead of seeking to point out my exclusiveness at the diminishing of another person I look to show love and care, to demonstrate compassion and understanding, recognizing that I may be talking to someone who is looking for the same thing I am.