Turn on most of the talk shows these days and almost everyone in recent days has had Tom Hanks on promoting his new film Larry Crowne. For those of you not aware of the plot,Tom Hanks plays the part of an employee who often has been rated by management and fellow employees as the best employee of the month for a big-box retailer. He has worked for the company since he got out of the Navy and is now in his 50’s. He gets a request to come to the manager’s office and is told he is being let go because he does not have a college degree.
With the knowledge that EEOC and the Department of Labor are cracking down on injustices in the workplace, have you stopped to look at whether or not the requirements you place on positions are actually bona-fide occupational qualifications. I would suspect that the retailer would have a hard time justifying that Larry Crowne coul dnot do the job because he does not hold a college degree.
We realize that in these tough economic times corporations are doing what they can to beef the quality of the workforce for the coming changes, but the Larry Crowne scenario opens a couple of concerns. First, in the movie Tom Hanks plays an individual who is obviously a hard worker and in his 50’s. So the question that come sot mind is did they violate the ADEA regulations and potentially discrimination laws by releasing Larry Crowne. More important, the exit of Larry Crowne represents a knowledge drain from the store since his knowledge of how best to do his job goes out the door when you send him on his merry way.
So I leave you with two suggestions. First from the trailers it looks like a fun movie and it hits the theatres tomorrow. Take time over the weekend to go enjoy it. (By the way I get no compensation from the production company and Tom Hanks and I are both related to the 16th Presidient of the US). Second really review the requirements of your positions and think about whether requiring a college education for a position such as Larry Crowne is a necessary requirement to perform the duties of the position or does it just make your organization look good int he eyes of the public?