Orange You Glad You Don't Work For The Assholes At Elizabeth R. Wellborn, P.A.?

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36 Responses

  1. Beauzeaux says:

    From their web site "We provide foreclosure, bankruptcy, eviction, litigation, loss mitigation, title claims, REO Closings and title insurance throughout the State of Florida."

    Obviously assholes from the start.

  2. Randall says:

    Hmmmm … Methinks we are missing something here. If the firings took place last Friday, it was the day before St. Patrick's Day, which allegedly calls for the wearing of green by Irish Catholics (as well as wannabes and random drunks). Protestants sometimes wear orange (as in William of Orange) as a slap against the Catholics.

    Perhaps the boss lady is both Catholic and a jerk, so her employees wore orange as a religious jab at her. That would explain the questioning to find a innocent reason for wearing orange.

  3. Ken says:

    If she fired them for making a pro-Protestant statement, that's much more likely to be actionable.

  4. angrygramma says:

    Great article. You certainly expressed my reaction to this very strange situation. Obviously something else is going on here. If you are operating a company that is not squeaky clean, you shouldn't step in high publicity horse doodoo. I'd be interested if the feds didn't come in and audit this company. Something is really fishy here. I already found one lawsuit against Elizabeth R Wellborn PA by a woman who tried to renegotiate her loan instead of foreclosure and her $600 fee and renegotiated monthly payments fo $544 just sort of vanished into the wilderness. Makes interesting reading. Here is the link to the legal papers for that article. http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/unpub/ops/201012494.pdf
    I am not fluent in "Legaleeze" but I think I got the drift of the court papers. Maybe there are more out there?
    This lawyer's business may be legal and profitable but it certainly seems disgusting to me and these types of law firms (and the banks they represented) are the ones that contributed to the housing problems we've seen in the last five years. Our current economic troubles stem from the real estate and banking duo to set up fraudulent loans, bad loans, and then foreclose with lawyers like this. Makes me sick.
    I hope the fired employees picket this firm en masse in ORANGE shirts and ask the feds to come in. The more publicity this gets the closer the scrutiny this company will get. Some paper is going to have a field day with this. My prediction. Let's see if I can be like Edgar Cayce.

  5. TJIC says:

    @angrygramma:

    > I already found one lawsuit against Elizabeth R Wellborn PA

    Show me someone who's been in business for five years and HASN'T had at least one lawsuit filed against them.

    I strongly dislike the "I found that one nut alleges X" tactic – there are nuts out there, and they allege things.

    Now, if there's a pattern, sure, bring it up, but "one person sued" is not more damning than "one ex-girlfriend said he's got a small … ahem … legal department".

  6. TJIC says:

    @angrygramma:

    > I already found one lawsuit against Elizabeth R Wellborn PA

    Show me someone who's been in business for five years and HASN'T had at least one lawsuit filed against them.

    I strongly dislike the "I found that one nut alleges X" tactic – there are nuts out there, and they allege things.

    Now, if there's a pattern, sure, bring it up, but "one person sued" is not more damning than "one ex-girlfriend said he's got a small … ahem … legal department".

    > I hope the fired employees picket this firm en masse in ORANGE shirts and ask the feds to come in.

    Yeah, that's what we need. To cut down every tree in England.

  7. Jabberwock says:

    What if they wore orange to protest the mass firings caused by wearing orange to protest the mass firings caused… You get the idea; I think technically it is called "pre-emptive dress code".

    As I understand it from your post, if I organize a protest against firing me for organizing the protest, I cannot be fired, is that right?

  8. Randall says:

    disclosure – my employment discrimination experience is limited to a single class as a 2L.

    It may be actionable (if not successfully?) if they were fired for a pro-protestant statement. But what if the statement were intended as harassment or intimidation of Catholic employees? Is it still actionable or does it then become justified or even laudatory?

  9. Steve says:

    Tonight the Great Pump-Ken will rise out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings pro bono legal work to all the bloggers of the world.

  10. plutosdad says:

    I also immediately thought "St Patrick's Day", and already make sure to not wear orange that day (though I didn't ever consider not wearing orange the day before).

    Of course, we're not in Ireland, so getting upset about someone wearing orange is pretty ridiculous.

  11. Bill H says:

    I sure as hell wouldn't hire Elizabeth R. Wellborn, P.A. for anything. And I hate orange. It makes me look like a giant pumpkin.

    Heh- you would have despised working at the San Diego casino where I was a slot tech. Our uniforms were burnt orange shirts and black pants. The derisive nickname for us was….wait for it…..pumpkins.

  12. Mitch says:

    When I was an AUSA, a colleague had opening arguments in a trial on St. Patrick's Day. When I went to wish him good luck, I saw that he was wearing an orange tie. Not wanting to have him enrage any Irish jurors, I immediately gave him my green tie to wear for the day.

  13. Dan says:

    I'm neutral on the orange issue, but blue (for KU or the Cubs) = fired. Also, even though I'm a solo practitioner at the moment, wearing a costume on Halloween will be immediate grounds for termination… if I ever get an employee.

  14. Voss says:

    "If, on the other hand, the mass firing was simply arbitrary and capricious, it's probably perfectly legal. I think that it should be — the government should not police employment decisions that do not violate specific rights. Is such behavior repugnant? Certainly. But there's a remedy for that — publicize the behavior."

    Umm… publicizing this won't get them their job back, or a job anywhere else. What you say seems like just another facile libertarian solution that doesn't solve anything.

  15. AlphaCentauri says:

    The article says they'd been doing it every payday for a while, so it doesn't sound like a St. Patrick's thing. And if they wore it on Friday the 16th, St. Pat's is the 17th and St. Joseph's (celebrated by Catholic Italians and Poles, for which I think orange is the appropriate color) is the 19th, so it would be a stretch to think anyone in Florida would be that upset over it. I do wonder why it was always the same color every week. It's like the employees were taking a dig at their employers over some issue they know the employer is too embarrassed to bring up publicly, and the color orange had something to do with it.

  16. Matthew Cline says:

    If the firings took place last Friday, it was the day before St. Patrick's Day, which allegedly calls for the wearing of green by Irish Catholics (as well as wannabes and random drunks). Protestants sometimes wear orange (as in William of Orange) as a slap against the Catholics.

    I'm used the the idea that people will kill over religion, but for some reason it's a surprise to me that people will also be petty over religion.

  17. As a Florida native (I moved out of the state two and a half years ago) I'd be really surprised if anyone wore orange shirts to take digs at Catholics. For one thing, most of the Catholics in Florida are Hispanic, and have no particular thing for Saint Patrick, and don't make a fuss about green or orange (or green and orange — hey, it's Florida) clothing on certain days. I rather doubt it has anything to do with anything religious.

    This statement, from the Yahoo article, is inane: "The color orange is arguably Florida's defining color. The self-described "Sunshine State" is widely known for its orange juice exports." But I expect no more from a news article on Florida. For some reason my home state inspires people to be cute when they talk about it. I see that the other article is on the Daily Mail site, the most reputable and honest news website on the internet. Oh hold on, dropped my /sarc tag…

    Seriously, I don't care how "at will" Florida is, firms there don't normally fire people because management over petty shit like people wearing the same color. I have spent most of my working life there, and you have to do something against company policy to get fired from any job. Company policy, of course, might be really petty, like forbidding the color orange because it reminds the big boss of his dead grandma, or something. But neither news story claimed any policy violation had happened. So what did? I agree with the others here there is more to the story than what we are being told.

  18. G Thompson says:

    Maybe they were all Rajneeshees followers meaning they have suffered religious persecution perhaps?

    Though I have a feeling that in a perfect universe "The Great Pumpkin" will visit Elizabeth R. Wellborn next Hallows Eve!

  19. If, on the other hand, the mass firing was simply arbitrary and capricious, it's probably perfectly legal. I think that it should be — the government should not police employment decisions that do not violate specific rights.

    May be this is an America vs Europe thing, but I don't get this attitude at all. I have to admit I only came across the American "at-will" employment concept very recently and – probably because I'm European – was horrified. What about the right not to be fired for arbitrary and capricious reasons? If you can fire someone for eating tuna-and-cucumber sandwiches, or wearing orange then what is the point of anti-discrimination legislation?

  20. b says:

    "Umm… publicizing this won't get them their job back, or a job anywhere else. What you say seems like just another facile libertarian solution that doesn't solve anything."

    Not to be a smart-aleck, but I prefer letting the employers to make arbitrary hiring and firing decisions (and face potential negative market and public relations consequences) rather than have the government step in arbitrarily (with far more power and resources and far fewer constraints of any sort, including common sense and accountability).

    As for solutions, a Libertarian might first take exception to the idea that this is for the authorities to "solve."

  21. Matt says:

    The point of anti-discrimination legislation is to create more work for bottom-feeding lawyers, destroy legitimate jobs, and bribe members of every grievance-minded pressure group in the country into voting for particular politicians by giving those groups special privileges to file lawsuits whenever their feelings are hurt.

    Even if the politicians actually _wanted_ to do so (gee, I wonder why they might not…), there's no way to write and enforce an effective law against being a dick. All laws have loopholes, and the true dicks of the world tend to be experts at finding and exploiting them. So the only thing these labor "protection" laws actually cause is fear on the part of employers. If someone you hire turns out to be a dick, the law gives them umpteen plausible causes of action to sue you if and when you discover they're a dick and fire them. Which makes you less likely to hire someone you aren't already 100% sure isn't a dick.

    And since you can't be 100% sure someone you've never met before isn't a dick, you tend not to hire people except the ones you already know, or at least the ones your existing trusted employees have already vouched for.

    Which is why it's SO BLOODY HARD to break into a new field of employment, or the job market in a new city, or even your first real career-job after college.

    On the other hand, if the _employer_ is being a dick, then there's plenty of opportunity to spread the word about it and thereby hurt them where they live. By…say…posting their name repeatedly on a popular and well-linked blog in an article that goes on at fair length talking about how they're really being a dick. No lawsuits necessary. And indeed, when you're talking about people who are themselves lawyers, you'll hurt them more with bad PR than you will with a lawsuit anyway.

  22. Thanks Matt, that opinion was clearly not in the slightest bit utter lunacy, just as this reply is clearly not dripping with sarcasm[1].

    [1] Just to be on the safe side: This reply is dripping with sarcasm.

  23. Hasdrubal says:

    May be this is an America vs Europe thing, but I don't get this attitude at all. I have to admit I only came across the American "at-will" employment concept very recently and – probably because I'm European – was horrified. What about the right not to be fired for arbitrary and capricious reasons? If you can fire someone for eating tuna-and-cucumber sandwiches, or wearing orange then what is the point of anti-discrimination legislation?

    Look at it this way: When a company does capriciously fire people, it makes the news. Even with at-will employment, it's that uncommon that it makes headlines. In my experience, not only working in at-will states but mostly as a contractor and with contractors (who get even fewer protections,) capricious firings are so uncommon that there aren't even "I knew a guy who knew a guy who was fired for eating pickles on Tuesday" stories out there. It's just plain rare.

    What at-will employment IS good for is firing people who just aren't going to work out. They interview well, they sometimes even seem to get it when you train them, but when you set them free they just fall flat on their face. Those people need to be cut to make room for productive employees, and when you know you can cut them, you're going to be less hesitant to hire people in the first place, and more likely to take chances on people who marginally meet the requirements. (Insert comment on long term unemployment rates being directly correlated to the strength of worker protections. Anecdotally, I know a few kids in Germany who spent years after graduating college trying to find jobs before the 2007 recession.)

    Finally, how many employees of Elizabeth R. Wellborn, P.A. are actively shipping out their resumes and looking for new work right now? Capricious, malicious behavior gets punished by the market. In this economy, the firm might not have troubles finding replacement hires (who will take a while to get up to speed and be as productive as those they replaced,) but they're certain to lose productivity from people scared off. When you see your employer exercising their will in an at-will environment, you start employing contingency plans yourself.

  24. johnson85 says:

    @armchair dissident,

    Just to be clear regarding at will employment, this does not mean you can't have "the right not to be fired for arbitrary and capricious reasons?" It just generally leaves the the terms up to the employer and employee. Typically, the employee is free to leave at any time (i.e., "fire" his employer) and the employer is free to end the relationship at anytime. If you can negotiate a contract where you can only be fired for cause, it will generally be enforceable, it's just that nobody does that because most employers are smart enough to recognize that's a recipe for disaster.

  25. Voss says:

    @b
    "Not to be a smart-aleck, but I prefer letting the employers to make arbitrary hiring and firing decisions (and face potential negative market and public relations consequences) rather than have the government step in arbitrarily (with far more power and resources and far fewer constraints of any sort, including common sense and accountability).

    As for solutions, a Libertarian might first take exception to the idea that this is for the authorities to 'solve'."

    What consequences? Weathering a news-cycle or two? The consequences can't be that bad if they didn't stop this firm from doing what it did. Even if the consequences are serious, the wronged employees are still screwed. Revenge can't pay the bills.

    Imagine if it was just one employee who was fired on a whim. Who would believe his story? Popehat certainly wouldn't care. There would be no protest, no market reaction.

    And as this article showed, common sense and constraint can be just as scarce in the private sector as in the public sector.

    Any idiot boss can seriously mess with an employee's life at any moment for no reason. They can even illegally discriminate against the employee, because they are essentially accountable to no one. The employee can do **** all about it.

    A non-libertarian, who is not afraid of the "g" word, might think that this is an issue to solve, and that it can be done in such a way that falls in a happy medium between the free market paradise that these newly-unemployed enjoy, and the most restrictive union-controlled shop.

  26. AlphaCentauri says:

    The employer is accountable in a big way to its unemployment insurance company. Every time an employee successfully files and unemployment claim, the employer's rates go up. Any HR department with any sense will be very careful to document why an employee willfully violated policies in order to avoid getting dinged, especially in a market where that unemployed former employee could end up collecting benefits for a very long time. There has to be a lot more to this story than we're hearing.

  27. smurfy says:

    Here's my theory: Taking the employees' story at face value, that this was some sort of happy hour ritual, I'm going to assume that this was a bunch of young cliquey types who are fans of Office Space and Shenanigans. Associating with a clique like this at work can be a bad strategy for making management now that the foosball tables of the dot com era have come and gone.
    My ex wife worked with a bunch of friends. I called them her sex and the city friends after their penchant for cosmos after work. One year at the Bonding Retreat the CEO let out that she thought the cliquey behavior going on the office was bad for overall morale. One way or another she found a way to fire 4 out of the 5.

  28. smurfy says:

    FWIW, one of the four was fired over a gossipy facebook post.

  29. Steve in Clearwater says:

    So to be clear – we're discussing Elizabeth R. Wellborn, P.A and not any other random Elizabeths, Rs or Wellborns doing business here in my sunny state of Florida

  30. AlphaCentauri says:

    It just occurred to me, if they were using the internet inappropriately at work and downloaded a trojan that compromised client confidentiality, an employer might fire them for something specious and let them collect unemployment rather than pay the costs associated with identity theft monitoring. It's equally unethical, but the victims are the clients rather than the employees.

  31. AlphaCentauri says:

    If they had responded to Ken's request for comment by sending email through their office server, we could have researched that theory. Their website IP address has an unexplained low score for privacy at mywot.com, but it's a shared IP and most companies aren't hosting their website on the same server with their business data files.

  32. I'm a local attorney, but don't have any inside information. I do think that there is a lot of this story that has been misreported though.

    First, even though the story has been (re)printed thousands of times, there was only one original story with actual reporting and interviews, in the Sun-Sentinel, which is here. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-elizabeth-wellborn-orange-firing-20120316,0,486402.story

    This story was published the day that they were fired.There is also a video in connection with the story in which one of the employees was interviewed.

    Go watch the video, because it's crucial to the story.

    Let me be straight. I don't know anyone at that firm, and it's a foreclosure mill, so I don't have any sympathy for the firm either. But any sympathy I might have had for the workers disappeared after watching the video interview.

    Here's what I gather. The employees all wanted to wear custom made T-shirts with inappropriate work language on it. From the video:

    "we all wear t-shirts that are made. We are not allowed to wear them at work, because of a word that they state. So we decided to wear orange, because we got a new manager who started on March 2, there. I GUESS SHE HAS A COMPLEX ABOUT TANNING. SHE'S ORANGE."

    So they were told that they couldn't wear a shirt with inappropriate workplace language on it, and as a protest, they decided to all wear orange instead to mock the manager who likes to tan. The employees were being "cute", and mocking their manager, and got fired for it. Then, on the day they got fired, four of the fourteen gave an interview to the Sun-Sentinel, claiming that they got fired for wearing orange, and a single story was written. After that, nothing.

    I suspect that the other fired employees–or their attorneys– told Janice Doble to shut the hell up and not blow their case.

  33. AlphaCentauri says:

    She mentions she was fired by Elizabeth Wellborn's husband. Having the senior partner's spouse doing HR can never end well.

  34. SPQR says:

    Indeed, at a firm that I worked for some time ago, the managing partner's wife was doing HR … which blew up good when the managing partner was banging the head of the crim defense group.

  35. Jess says:

    The new trend apparently is to ask people for their Facebook passwords during interviews. I don't do much with Facebook and have never posted anything I'd be embarrassed for an employer to see. But seriously how is it any different than asking to rifle through your purse or other confidential papers? I would turn and run from any employer that asked for this. I can just imagine the lawsuit potential this could open up if an employer discovers that a job applicant is a member of a protected group, the employer may open itself up to claims of discrimination if it doesn’t hire that person.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/21/tagblogsfindlawcom2012-freeenterprise-idUS84729917020120321

  36. Chris Knaks says:

    Hope they Sue and hope they win. Hope they expose her sewer attorney tactis too. Rot baby rot