After complaining at work and hoping to enact change, a class of interns was met with a very unexpected outcome.
A blog post on askamanager.com says that a reader recently scored a summer position at a company within the field the individual hopes to work in post-graduation. “Even though the division I was hired to work in doesn’t deal with clients or customers, there still was a very strict dress code,” the person wrote, adding that they felt the clothing rules were “overly strict” but weren’t going to complain. That is, “until I noticed one of the workers always wore flat shoes that were made from a fabric other than leather, or running shoes, even though both of these things were contrary to the dress code.”
Angered by the hypocrisy, the reader rallied other interns, and the group wrote a proposal, along with a petition signed by the whole class (minus one who declined to participate). The request mostly focused on footwear, asking for non-dress shoes that would fit under a more business casual dress code, but also asked if it was possible for the workers to not have to wear suits and/or blazers in favor of a more casual but still professional dress code.
The next day, everyone who signed was called into a meeting, where the lot was informed that due to their “unprofessional behavior,” they were being let go. “We were told to hand in our ID badges and to gather our things and leave the property ASAP,” the post reads. The young adults were shocked and weren’t given a chance to defend their actions. But that’s not the worst part. “Just before the meeting ended, one of the managers told us that the worker who was allowed to disobey the dress code was a former soldier who lost her leg and was therefore given permission to wear whatever kind of shoes she could walk in. You can’t even tell, and if we had known about this we would have factored it into our argument.”
In response, Alison Green, the voice behind the blog, shared that while she believes firing the whole group was an extreme reaction, she understands why the employers were highly annoyed. She explained that being an intern is basically like being a guest — the company’s rules are the rules. “To be clear, that doesn’t mean that you need to suck up any and every condition of an internship. You don’t,” she wrote. “But this wasn’t something like asking you to do unsafe work or work unreasonable hours; this was asking you to abide by what sounds like a very common and reasonable professional dress code.”
Since the blog post was published on Tuesday, it has been shared multiple times across the Internet, with many offering their own opinions. “Kids these days. You gotta pay your dues,” Jason Chalker said. “I think the company handled it perfectly.” Julie Borowski wrote, “Interns these days got mouths on them. You’re in audition mode. You better not be slacking with the dress code.” Lucas Correia even made the argument that the situation was the “direct result of the bad parenting and the self entitlement attitude created in both our primary and secondary education system.” Glenn Beck also offered his opinion, writing that “real life can be brutal.”
Because of the attention the article received, with a majority of the critics calling the millennial generation delusional and blaming “young people today,” Green added an editor’s note. “The letter-writer’s generation is far from the first to bridle at dress codes or misunderstand office culture or start out with little knowledge of how things work in offices,” she said. “This is about being young and new to the work world, not about what generation they belong to. Most of us made plenty of mistakes when we first started work — I certainly did. So please go a little easier on this person.”