I have been consumed by the social media firestorm from the text sent by a senior attorney at the Cleveland law firm, Zashin & Rich. Let's recap, shall we?
The firm let go partner Jon Dileno for sending the following text, according to a screenshot shared online, to a co-worker who decided to leave the firm after a paid maternity leave, "What you did — collecting salary from the firm while sitting on your ass, except to find time to interview for another job — says everything one needs to know about your character."
What has captivated me is the social media justice.
The vigilantes of the great wide web don't always get it right, but when they do? It is so sweet. See, in the initial statement that the firm put out, the managing partner, Stephen Zashin, said Dileno's text was sent "in the heat of the moment."
Ah, ah, ah! Incorrect, Mr. Zashin. That's not what happened. We were looking for, "Mr. Dileno's texts are an accurate depiction of how he truly feels. We're just surprised the knuckhead put it in writing! Something we are often telling our clients not to do. The irony."
But instead the internet came out, and it came out hard. It was saturated with commentary, blasting law firm culture and how women in any profession are treated when they take maternity leave. Oh. Did I not mention that the female attorney who received the message was expected to work while out on leave??
The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association was flooded with angry calls, texts, and emails from members expressing outrage and demanding action. Eventually, Zashin & Rich announced that they had separated with Jon Dileno. They issued some PR-spun, contrite statement apologizing and giving some classic apology tropes about how they will take this time to learn and reflect. Mmmmmmhmmmm.
All of this because a woman who returned from leave had the nerve to accept another job. The horror! And it's suspected that before or during her leave, she may have been interviewing for this other job. Call the chief of police!!
Guess what? Opportunity comes when it comes, and it's not usually convenient. So if you don't want your employees looking elsewhere, level up. Create a workplace where employees are supported and can thrive and maybe just maybe, where they don't have to work while on leave and then get berated for leaving the law firm that made them work while on leave. Just a thought.