Last week a lifeguard in Florida was fired (really, I swear) after he saved a drowning man. Why, you ask? Because the man was outside of the lifeguard’s “zone.” According to company policy, lifeguards cannot go beyond the perimeter of the beach they are responsible for overseeing. Tomas Lopez violated this rule when he rushed to the aid of a drowning swimmer, who was turning blue. Lopez saved the man’s life. Another lifeguard covered Lopez’s area while the rescue was in progress. The company’s response? Termination. And not just of Lopez, but of a few other lifeguards who stated they would have done the same thing as Lopez.
This is one of those times you smack your head and say “Really?” I’m all for the consistent enforcement of company policies. But let’s not throw our common sense out the window.
While there was most likely nothing illegal about Lopez’s firing (he was at-will, after all), the co-workers could actually have an NLRB claim for interference with protected concerted activity (i.e., protesting the firing by stating they would have done the same thing). But the bad PR the company (Jeff Ellis Management, in case you were wondering) has incurred? Not much cheaper than a lawsuit.