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Manager draws online ire for refusing to let employee attend grad ceremony

'I’m a bit upset because she was my best employee by far,' boss says of former staff member

Dexter Brown - CBC News

July 07, 2016

An anonymous manager who thought it was "unprofessional" that an employee quit because she wasn't allowed time off to attend her graduation sparked furious debate online.

Writing on a professional development and management site, the manager wanted to know how they should contact the worker to prevent her from making the same "mistake" again. 

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The manager's lengthy write-up on Ask a Manager, explained that they were unable to grant the request because she was the employee with the lowest seniority and coverage was needed for that day.

"I told this team member that she could not start two hours late and that she would have to skip the ceremony," the manager said. "An hour later, she handed me her work ID and a list of all the times she had worked late/come in early/worked overtime for each and every one of her coworkers. Then she quit on the spot."

The employee, who was taking night classes to earn her degree, reached out to coworkers to find a replacement for her shift, but no one was willing to step in for her. 

According to the manager, the staff member was raised in several foster homes, has no family and was homeless for a short time after turning 18, but her response to the request to skip her graduation apparently caught the manager by surprise. 

"I'm a bit upset because she was my best employee by far. Her work was excellent, she never missed a day of work in the six years she worked here, and she was my go-to person for weekends and holidays," the manager said. 

​Alison Green, the blogger behind the site, took the manager to task for wanting to reach out to the employee to tell her that she acted unprofessionally. 

"If anything, you should consider reaching out to her, apologizing for how you handled the situation, and offering her the job back if she wants it," Green wrote. "I'm not usually a fan of people quitting on the spot, but I applaud her for doing it in this case."

The blogger also praised the employee for graduating despite all that she had faced. 

"I normally think graduation ceremonies are primarily fluff, I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone who deserves to be able to attend her own graduation ceremony as much as this woman does," she said. "You should have been bending over backwards to ensure she could attend."

Green added that good management requires being able to know when to make exceptions to the rules instead of rigidly following them. 

"There's a lesson to be learned here, but it's not for her," she concluded.

In addition to the hundreds of comments to the original post on Ask a Manager, many also took to Twitter to voice their opinion.

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