Resignation Drama: The Steven Slater Syndrome

For several days, the media has reported constantly on the situation of Steven Slater, the flight attendant that dramatically quit his job as a JetBlue flight attendant. The public eagerly devoured the reports, quickly dividing into two camps: one that applauded Slater’s actions, and the other believing that, no matter what, Slater should have exercised professionalism.

The Take This Job and Shove It Mentality
Slater has turned into a sort of folk hero, acting as a poster child for anyone who wishes he or she could grab a couple of beers and slide down a shoot toward the unemployment line. Sounds like a great Steve Carell movie (star of the “Office”), but, in reality, it’s just not that easy.

What most people don’t realize is that the Steven Slater’s of the world are generally not first-time offenders. Slater’s actions have been highly publicized, almost romanticized to the point of rendering him the next Robin Hood, but, it turns out this isn’t the first time this particular flight attendant has hit the tarmac. Far too often, it isn’t until something of this extreme has happened that a business really opens the books on the background of an employee.

Interestingly, most accounts on JetBlue Flight 1052 indicate that Slater was intoxicated, belligerent, and combative even before he encountered the passenger he claims caused him to ruin his career. One passenger even called him “petulant.” Slater is now being represented by a legal eagle who promotes the Sgt. Schultz defense. In other words, don’t tell the truth, don’t say anything at all if you can avoid it; just name, rank, and serial number.

Background Checks
But, could a background check have prevented the events of August 9, 2010. Slater obviously had issues that may have prevented his hiring, or, at least his continued employment with JetBlue. Several sources indicate that he has been a pot ready to boil over for quite some time. Other sources indicate that Slater has had a history of “diva” like behavior on the job, even before his tenure with JetBlue.

One thing is for sure; behavior that endangers any member of an organization, such as the way that Steven Slater endangered his fellow employees and the passengers of JetBlue by activating the emergency chute, should be cause for a ban on the future career aspirations of any individual who dares go that far. Slater’s actions went far beyond those of disgruntled employee, he literally risked the lives others. This unconscionable act, committed by an individual in a line of work where a cool head is always warranted, should serve as a lesson to employers who must ensure the safety of their customers and staff.

Ultimately, Steven Slater’s actions may qualify him as a participant in the next big thing in reality television shows, but is that the type of publicity you want for your business?

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