A Startling Lack of Compassion

Submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

Webster’s defines compassion as:

compassion \kəm-ˈpa-shən\, n.,
: sympathetic of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it

In yet another instance of corporate callousness, Claudia Rendon, a 41-year old mother from Philadelphia, was fired from her job at Aviation Institute of Maintenance after taking leave to donate a kidney to her son, Alex.  Kidney transplant surgery normally takes six to eight weeks recovery time.  Rendon had discussed taking unpaid leave from  July 19 to undergo the kidney transplant surgery on July 21 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and to return to her job on September 1.  She told ABC News that on her last day of work, her manager presented her with a letter to sign acknowledging that her job was not secure one hour after telling her that she would have her job upon her return.  On August 24, Rendon informed  Aviation Institute of Maintenance that she might not be able to return to work September 1 due to severe lower back pain; a common complication of such surgery.   Aviation Institute of Maintenance said they wanted a letter from the doctor.  The University of Pennsylvania hospital and her short-term disability provider each wrote letters to Rendon’s employer stating she would return to work Sept. 12.  Upon making a social visit to Aviation Institute of Maintenance on September 8, she found out her position had been filled by someone else on September 6.  Alex, who was a student at AIM, has also suffered repercussions of undergoing this lifesaving transplant.  The school is trying to collect $2,000 related to time he took off in addition to trying to charge him $150 to re-enroll. Did  Aviation Institute of Maintenance break the law?  Or are they just another example of a callous employer lacking in compassion?

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which would require the employer to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, does not apply because Aviation Institute of Maintenance has less than 50 employees.  Perhaps the Federal Americans With Disabilities Act or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act applies and may yet provide remedy.  The ADA would require her employer to provide “reasonable accommodation”  to the temporary disability caused by the surgery.  In this instance, it is quite reasonable to assert that the employers action should have been to hire a temp through a service to cover the 12 day gap.  The PHRA applies to all public and private employers in Pennsylvania with four or more employees and, although the language is not as clear as the ADA, does provides similar anti-discrimination protection in employment practices.  This is a matter for the courts to decide as their actions relate to both the ADA and the PHRA. The answer the question of whether the  Aviation Institute of Maintenance break the law is “maybe”. Any remedy may be mitigated by the fact that since receiving so much bad publicity over this matter, AIM has put Rendon back on salary pending a new opening. This does not mean she has her job back or will remain on payroll.

However, as to the question of whether or not AIM has acted in a callous manner lacking of any modicum of compassion, I think that is without question. They first agreed to hold her position then at the last minute and in an abundance of unfair bargaining position forced her to sign a letter releasing them from liability if they didn’t hold her position.  They failed to make a reasonable accommodation for her (and her son’s) recovery.  They attempted to compound the damage done by replacing Rendon by trying to collect money and fees from Alex during his recovery.

Aside from any remedy the courts can apply, do you think it is enough?  Should we as a society encourage consumers to not do business with companies that treat their employees badly?  Even if their bad actions as in the case of Cecelia Ingraham are not per se illegal?  What do you think?

Sources: ABC News, Huffington Post, Daily Mail

~Submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

115 thoughts on “A Startling Lack of Compassion”

  1. Slarti:

    your myopic belief in the infallibility of the elite to control the economy is what is destructive.

    Since we dont have all capitalism all the time, how do figure that? How can something that doesnt even exist be destructive? WTF.

    At some point you must realize how ignorant that sounds.

  2. Roco,

    If you think you’re being clear, maybe you should try and diagram that sentence. The only way it makes sense is to assume you meant either, “… Socialism, as practiced by the Nazis and fascism…” or “…socialism and Fascism, as practiced by the Nazis…”The problem is that the way you wrote that was such tortured English that it was unclear as to which you meant. Which one is it?

    Unless you mean I should read Naked Lunch.

  3. what part of I am not in favor of any dictatorship dont you understand?

    I dont know about you but giving billions of dollars to corporations in the form of bailouts is socialism/fascism.

  4. Roco,

    You fail to recognize that Fascism and Socialism are at opposite ends of the spectrum – and that every single industrialized nation incorporates socialist values to some extent or other. Your zero dimensional viewpoint (all capitalism all the time) is incredibly myopic and destructive.


    Don’t try to apply logic to Roco’s arguments – since they all lead to contradictions, you can prove anything you want based on his axioms. We know that his way of thinking leads to a world where psychopaths are successful executives…

  5. Roco,

    “the difference between fascism and socialism is very small as practised by the Nazis. ”

    That sentence is a bit ambiguous, which was practiced by the Nazis?

  6. “well how about a corporate dictatorship?”

    There’s a word for that. Coined by a bald Italian fellow. He ended up being a lamp ornament.

  7. ‘I would be opposed to a theocratic dictatorship or any dictatorship for that matter. I am also opposed to corporatism which is really socialism/fascism. ‘
    well how about a corporate dictatorship?

    II’m not an economist, not my strong suit atall, so I really can only spew idealistic opinion (vehemently…) but, isn’t what the banks are doing now, ie: taking in the government bailout, raising the costs of banking, not loaning the money back out to those who need mortgages, loans etc….isn’t that how ‘socialism’ bled into ‘fascism’ in Nazi Germany?

    because it is not just $$$$ that makes a society but this seems to be where capitalism is taking us….

  8. Roco,

    You seem to have a fascination with Wikipedia.

    Your knowledge of that time in history (and indeed most times in history and sundry other subjects) is largely made up.

    Mine isn’t.

    Has that ever occurred to you when you’re reading Wikipedia?

  9. Gene,

    “Should we as a society encourage consumers to not do business with companies that treat their employees badly?”


  10. “There’s a terribly seductive power in becoming a psychopath stalker. It can really dehumanize you. I can look at, say, Dominique Strauss Kahn, who, if one assumes that what one is hearing about him is true, certainly he hits a huge amount of items on the checklist — the $30,000 suits, the poor behavioral controls, the impulsivity, the promiscuous sexual behavior. But of course when you say this you’re in terrible danger of being seduced by the checklist, which I really like to add as a caveat. It kind of turns you into a bit of a psychopath yourself in that that you start to shove people into that box. It robs you of empathy and your connection to human beings.”

    Oh my!

  11. Gene H:

    the difference between fascism and socialism is very small as practised by the Nazis. My knowledge of that time in history is not limited to wikipedia.

    Genesian economics strikes again.

  12. Slarti:

    “However, in the context of this diagram, what he’s saying is that it doesn’t matter how far down the road towards a theocratic dictatorship we go, as long as we’re living in a corporatist state everything will be fine… Once again Roco fails to attain rendezvous with reality.”

    The only problem with your statement is that it is factually incorrect. Political freedom is every bit as important as economic freedom. I would be opposed to a theocratic dictatorship or any dictatorship for that matter. I am also opposed to corporatism which is really socialism/fascism.

    You are out of gas. Didnt oil just fall? Yes it did because of supply and demand. Wow that must be some sort of magic the president is doing. No magic at all, his progressive economics is destroying the economy. Your utopia of cradle to grave to welfare has failed.

  13. OMG Mike S I am now suffering from PTSD. I followed the link you supplied and the first wave hit me as I read the horror filled words…”Who Moved My Cheese” I had suppressed the memory for years of the day we were shown that movie and given a copy of the evil book. Yes By the very same bank I have been talking about. We were required to attend a meeting once a week before banking hours for “training” Every employee from bank manager to the lowliest teller. It was a nightmare. I started singing songs in my head to block out the sounds of the movie. I kept my eyes on the back of the buildings A/C unit counting the flashes of some red light attached to the side to block out the images. We were required in the next weeks meeting to “discuss” the book but it too much like an oral book report to make sure we had read it. I saw it then and still see it today as corporate brain washing. I think I need a little while to recover . I can not be held responsible for anything I might say to Roco in these circumstances. *throws arm over eyes in a melodramatic way*
    I did read the rest of the article BTW and I found it right on point.

  14. Capitalism and socialism are both market dependant and market driven and left to their own devices cruel against the people…and easily trivialized by those with powerful self interests. That’s why we need a good, strong, graft-free something that will adhere to the original priciples of the founding fathers and our Constitution. Lobby Free. A Governing sphere for either Capitalistic or Socialistic ideologies to operate within without upsetting the applecart or stealing all the apples…I’d like to see one of these:

    ‘A Republic, on the other hand, has a very different purpose and an entirely different form, or system, of government. Its purpose is to control The Majority strictly, as well as all others among the people, primarily to protect The Individual’s God-given, unalienable rights and therefore for the protection of the rights of The Minority, of all minorities, and the liberties of people in general. The definition of a Republic is: a constitutionally limited government of the representative type, created by a written Constitution–adopted by the people and changeable (from its original meaning) by them only by its amendment–with its powers divided between three separate Branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Here the term “the people” means, of course, the electorate.”


  15. “I think you really missed the boat on that one, because most of the programmers I know prefer to be high as a kite while working.”


    I didn’t mention it but that enters into a big part of my calculations in regretting missing that particular boat.


    Damn it! You’ve displaced me as the Doyen of the run-on sentence here at JT’s blog and with far better grammar yet.


    Well put, but lost cause when it comes to Roco’s understanding of the distinctions.

  16. “An example of that on super industrial strength steroids is Cheney. But most Middle management types who enjoy a lil bit ‘o torture have taken the first steps to being a psychopath. After all how long can a sane person humiliate and torture another person before they lose all humanity?”


    There is some evidence of the very fact of psychopathy and rising in corporations.


  17. Roco,

    There’s a term for what you just did there: special pleading. I should also note that you used special pleading in making a straw man out of my argument – that’s a twofer!

    {W(t)=^..^ : t <= now},

    I am trembling in awe of your magnificent sentence – it is truly a construction of epic proportions! 😉

    You can think of this on one of those diagrams that Nate Silver loves with Capitalism/Communism at the extremes of one axis and Socialism/Fascism at the extremes of the other. (Which would really just be a map of the territory that governments exist in, but that's another thread…[the fast neutrino thread, to be exact ;-)]) Roco maintains (despite enormous evidence to the contrary) that as long as we stay away from the twin evils of socialism and communism and give capitalism unfettered free reign then we will be living in his Rand-y utopia and everything will be wonderful. However, in the context of this diagram, what he's saying is that it doesn't matter how far down the road towards a theocratic dictatorship we go, as long as we're living in a corporatist state everything will be fine… Once again Roco fails to attain rendezvous with reality.


    I think you really missed the boat on that one, because most of the programmers I know prefer to be high as a kite while working. Of course, I'm sure you more than made up for it with the "getting laid" thing… 😉 And from the small but intriguing slice of yourself that you've put forward on this blog, I'd say that your intelligence was far from wasted even if you were wasted from time to time…

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