What Comes First: Your Work or Values?
This recent news story was clearly designed to appeal to sentimentality. Nonetheless, you’ll likely forgive the journalist’s approach. The protagonist: Debbie Shank, a brain-injured woman whose 18-year-old son was killed while on duty in Iraq. She asks about his whereabouts only to be reminded that he’s dead. She cries each time like it’s the first time she’s hearing the news.
The antagonist: Wal-Mart.
Shank was awarded $417,000 after legal expenses from the trucking company responsible for the crash that left her brain-injured. She was an employee of Wal-Mart and was covered by their health insurance. Wal-Mart paid out $470,000 for her medical expenses. Wal-Mart sued to recoup the money, and a court decided that Wal-Mart was only entitled to the $417,000 in Shank’s trust. Wal-Mart got their money back.
Shank, who can’t work and lives in a nursing home at 52, has also exhausted all judicial resources. Her family has fallen apart and suffers financially.
Can you imagine being the spokesperson for Wal-Mart who had to defend their actions? Here’s what he had to say:
Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley, who called Debbie Shank’s case “unbelievably sad,” replied in a statement: “Wal-Mart’s plan is bound by very specific rules. … We wish it could be more flexible in Mrs. Shank’s case since her circumstances are clearly extraordinary, but this is done out of fairness to all associates who contribute to, and benefit from, the plan.”
I don’t believe in hell, but just in case there is one, Simley may have just added a few more bricks to his house in hades. After all, it’s only fair that all people who inflict suffering be sent to hell. You just can’t make exceptions as you go along.
If I were ever so hard up for cash that I had to work at Wal-Mart and found out about this story, I’d quit on the spot. I’d sooner become a street hooker.
Am I being harsh?
Assuming that you now find Wal-Mart more evil than ever before, this is an extreme example of when your job infringes on your values. But we’re living in tough times. It’s hard to keep your job, or even find a job.
If you found out your company was involved in a story making horrible press, would you still work for the company? What would it take to make you quit? When do you put your values aside?