Clawing to escape the belly of the beast here in Hollywood. To commiserate, email my name assistantatlas at yahoo.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Ethics of Getting Someone Fired: 5.36

Welcome to a very special theme week of Assistant/Atlas posts. This week, we'll examine the ins and outs of employee battles here in Hollywood, specifically: the concept of getting fired.

It's a subject with which I have some experience.

For now, we'll leave aside all questions as to how to go about getting someone fired, and just try to concentrate on the ethical dilemma at hand. And I'm gonna make it as gray-area as possible, just for fun. But please, find your own ethical compass on this one.

Nancy is the "someone" of the "getting someone fired". Keeping in mind my need for anonymity, I will simply state that Nancy is my immediate superior. She's been there a few months now, less than half as long as I have. Now, this is a slightly wonky situation because (that again, I can't really get into) that means she works part-time. Mostly because our company is "realigning" and the cheapskate bosses are trying to save money, and because they could outsource her job to a part-time position, they did.

But basically, since I'm now alone in the office thanks to a good co-worker's departure (which, for the record, was completely unrelated to my slow-motion promotion.) I have to deal with Nancy a lot. Like, more than anyone else.

So I suffer the most from her incompetence. But other people have noticed that she gets headaches a lot near the end of the day. That she panics easily and often. That she claims to be overworked even when we (myself and at least two others) wonder what work she could possibly have to do. After all, she rarely does any of the heavy lifting. She 'organizes' and 'manages' and 'edits' and such.

Leaving aside the fact that you have no reason to believe me, continue on this journey of supposition....

Suppose that she is pretty awful. Mostly lazy and therefore incompetent...but we all have our problems, right? I'm selfish, overly ambitious, and often tactless. And I don't even have a kid as an excuse. But she's not a single Mom-- her husband has a good job. And they travel all the time to exotic destinations-- more than even newfound jetsetter me.

So let's suppose the case isn't as clear cut as we'd like it to be. She isn't a horrific racist or sexually harassing me or not doing the job at all. She's just not nearly good enough at it. And it's making me crazy enough that I want to get her fired.

Let's just say it's really because she's a Debby Downer in an industry where you're paid to be UP. ALL THE TIME.

So here are the questions I'm asking myself...and I ask you, faithful readers, to put in your two commenting cents if you desire....
This can't be ethical-- me wanting to get Nancy fired, can it?

What does it take to call for someone's head? There have to be situations where's it's okay, right?

Should an underling ever call for the firing of his or her superior?

Later this week, we'll have "How to Tell If You're Getting Fired" plus, don't miss: "How to Get a Superior Fired!"



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it would be nice if our superiors could actually do their job and be proficient at it without drama, but alas this is Hollywood where the competent are ignored and the incompetent are elevated to undeserving heights. You have a better chance of her getting promoted than sacked. I have been in your situation too many times in this lovely industry and have been shockingly amazed at the people who I have worked with who can hardly tie their shoe ( they get someone else to) much less rise to a position of authority. I never could understand how people can't see through it. Good luck to you, maybe she will get a better full time offer elsewhere. But then you have to deal with her replacement.....

11:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If she's as incompetent as you describe, she'll get herself fired. As frustrating as it is (we've all been there) just bit your tongue, put your head down, and get the job done. Like anything else, pick your battles.

Good Luck!

10:32 AM

Blogger Milehimama said...

Don't call get "getting someone fired", call it, "Wanting what's best for the company". Ethical problem solved.
Perhaps you could start sowing seeds of discontent in her (so she'll quit).

1:00 PM

Blogger Nyssa23 said...

I don't know if anyone's ever actually been successful in getting an incompetent superior fired. This may be the Philosopher's Stone of downtrodden office workers--something often whispered about but never actually seen.

Is it ethical to want to get her fired and/or try to do so? Of course not. The ethical thing to do would be what anonymous number two suggested--fight the good fight, do your job, and wait for karma to sort everything out.

But this is Hollywood we're talking about, so you have to weigh your ambition against your sense of ethics and decide what to do. Remember, though, that if you do decide to try to get Nancy fired the whole thing could backfire horribly.

Good luck, whatever you decide.

9:56 PM

Blogger Nyssa23 said...

P.S. Damn, I just used the word "decide" 3 times. Sorry, I've been tired, kids aren't sleeping.

9:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you do try this, I'd strongly recommend you not go it alone; you should be one voice of many. And if you can get someone else to take the lead, I'd recommend it.

In any industry, it's pretty unlikely that a subordinate gets their superior fired- unless the higher-ups notice a serious problem and then ask the subordinate what's going on. In this type of situation, however, the higher-ups initiate the conversation, not the subordinate.

It's all part of paying dues, I'm afraid :(

12:13 PM

Blogger Red On The Head said...

If you can find a deliciously passive agressive way to do this, go for it. Make yourself shine, and don't let it come back to bite you in the ass. There are plenty of people who would like or need her job, give them a chance to actually appreciate it.

12:23 PM

Blogger Sal said...

Anon above red on the head seemed fairly spot on - its unlikely a subordinate would get a supervisor fired. Besides, you have to think about the effect it might have on your reputation. Do you want to be known as the person who kicked up so much that someone lost their job? And, if she's so useless, she'll be fired soon enough anyway. You need to be the one who is so competent and so spotless reputation-wise that you can step into her job. Good luck

3:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was hoping to read this for advice. =|
I work in a government facillety and have to have the crappyest contract on the planet. No sick days, vacations, anual leave, holiday pay, no benefits make less than the house keepers and about $10 an hour less than my co-workers. One of whom is a trouble maker who has been indeffinatly laid off several times in the past for stirring things up and now we have a new boss who is wrapped around her little finger by constatly stroking his ego. She has been systematicly using this power of influence to have the people who refuse to be bossed around fired and has now started on me. I have gotten people fired before but never in a federal facillety. I need some pointers people. she could easily cost me my only chance to pay off my medical bills and go back to college.

8:17 PM

Anonymous escort roma said...

The writer is totally right, and there is no skepticism.

11:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that ¬°she must go to safemeds to relive those headaches I think she has been passing for a hard situation and I think that's the perfect solution.

1:53 PM


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