Corporations are not inherently evil and government is not inherently bad. usually the difference is the people that run them but even with good people, good intentions sometimes have unintended consequences.
My friend Sara was employed by a national chain retail fabric store for 3 years. What started as a part time supplemental income has, in the last year, became her primary income after being laid off at her regular full time position. On Saturday, May21st, her 3 year anniversary with the company, she was suddenly terminated.
She was terminated for 'lying' on her application. Why after 3 years? She recently applied for, and received and promotion to a management position pending receipt of her background check. The application asked her if she had ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, which is fairly typical, and not knowing the heinous crime she had committed years prior was either, she said no. So after 3 years of being a model employee and now up for promotion, they terminated her on a 'policy' violation, 'lying' on her application.
What was the heinous crime you may ask? Trespassing. That's right, trespassing. A little over two years ago she and her (now ex) husband, were driving through a nature preserve in an area she wasn't aware civilian vehicles were prohibited. It was a muddy, beaten trail and they got stuck. It was actually her husband that was driving and he was drunk but after getting stuck and needing to call for help, she took the punch. A county sheriff came out to assist and wrote her a ticket for trespassing.She paid the fine and thought she was done with it. Being that this was the ONLY ticket she had ever gotten, and has never been to jail, she hardly considered herself a criminal.
Fast forward 3 years and her employer asks her if she'd ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. If I hadn't been a criminal justice major I probably would have answered the same way she did, no. When you think of crimes you think of things people actually go to jail for. Drugs, DUI, Theft, Violence... So she got fired for 'lying' on her application.
The first problem I see is the absolutism of 'no tolerance' policies. Everyone must be treated the same regardless of circumstance or reason. Bring a plastic GI Joe gun to school, you're suspended. Err on a job application, you're fired! Just as the plastic GI Joe has nothing to do with the reasons why the rule was put in place, neither did her mistake, nor did the crime she actually committed, have anything to do with the job she was given. Shoplifting I could understand, but trespassing?
The second is with our justice system. When I think of criminal trespassing I think of usually disorderly people who have been asked to leave a place and have refused. The police will show up and formally trespass that person and IF they return within a prescribed amount of time, THEN they can be charged with criminal trespassing. This was simply not the case here. She was somewhere she wasn't even aware that she not allowed to be on STATE property and was more than willing to leave on request. Tickets payable by fine in MN are usually petty misdemeanors which is not considered a crime. Trespassing though comes in two varieties, misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, there is not 'petty' misdemeanor trespassing which probably would have been more fitting in this particular case and there was no 'criminal intent' attached to it at all. of course she paid her fine not fully understanding that THIS was a CRIMINAL offense and how it could impact her future. This is hardly her fault. The courts don't tell you and laws are written as such that people with no education in legal terminology find them difficult or impossible to understand.
The third is what seems to be a total lack of discretion we have as people either by rule or by choice. I don't think the officer should have written this ticket. I doubt he would have written a ticket to a grandma mistakenly parked in a fire lane, why would you write a ticket for mistakenly trespassing. And as an employer, shy would you fire an employee who has never missed a shift in 3 years, worked many extra shifts and who you were now considering for promotion, because they FORGOT the MINOR crime they had committed was actually a criminal offense?