Workplace Q & A: Part 2

Q: Do I have to contribute to my company’s PAC?

“My company has a Political Action Committee that routinely supports Republican candidates for office. I am a Democrat. Other people at my level regularly contribute $2,000 each year to the PAC. No one says anything, but everyone does it. I do not want to contribute. Do I have to?”

A: You have no obligation to contribute.

Nor can your company make it a term and condition of your job. However, it would be naive to think that your failure to contribute will go unnoticed, especially if you make a fairly hefty salary. If you don’t contribute, the company could feel very differently about you in the future. You need to decide whether you want to stand out in this way.

Q: Can I be fired because I filed for bankruptcy?

“In the past five years, my mother needed extensive medical treatment. She wasn’t old enough to get Medicare and had no health insurance, so I paid her medical bills. Then my wife lost her part-time job. As a result of these and some other financial setbacks, I filed for bankruptcy last month. My boss found out about it. He told me he was going to fire me because people who file for bankruptcy are deadbeats. Can he do this?”

A: The short answer is “no.”

An employer cannot fire an employee because he has filed for bankruptcy. However, once you point this out to your boss, you might want to quietly and quickly look for another job. Even if he doesn’t fire you, it is unlikely that he will be able to treat you fairly in the future.


Q: Can I get my old job back?

“I work for a non-union company. A month ago, I was promoted to a management position. It turns out that I hate being a manager. I would like to return to my old job. As soon as I was promoted, the company hired someone else to fill my old job. I asked my company to remove the new employee since he’s only been on the job for one month, while I’ve worked for the company for ten years. The company responded with an unequivocal ‘no.’ Isn’t the company obligated to give me back my old job?”

A: The short answer is “no.”

Most non-union companies have a “no-bumping rule.” Under such a rule, once a senior person vacates a job, he cannot return to his old job if someone else holds the position. It does not matter why the senior person left the job in the first place, nor whether the person currently holding the job is very junior.

Companies have established this no-bumping rule to promote stability and enhance mobility. Accordingly, if you currently have a position that you’re happy with and the company offers you another position, you need to thoroughly investigate the new job duties and the new work situation before you make the move. Once you move, it is quite unlikely you will be able to return to your former position

Copyright © 2013 Johanna Harris

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post contains numerous questions describing common recurring problems in the workplace. The circumstances described in these questions, including the names of characters and business firms, are fictitious.

About the Author: Johanna Harris has been a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor and in-house labor counsel for two multinational corporations. She is currently the CEO of Hire Fire and Retire LLC. Her new book, USE PROTECTION: An Employee’s Guide to Advancement in the Workplace (i Book, Kindle, Amazon Paperback), is intended to help you learn enough about labor law and personnel practices so that you don’t get derailed from the career track you should be on.


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