Posted: January 7, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

I like to use separate banks for my personal and business banking.  I noticed something funny the other day:  None of the employees at either bank were over 40.  When I first opened my business account, the branch manager, teller manager, and several of the tellers were my age or older (I’m 52).  Over the past three years, those employees are all gone.  It’s the same story where I do my personal banking.  The faces that I knew when first used the bank are all gone, replaced by much younger employees.

I frequently counsel clients that age discrimination is a reality we have to deal with.  On a personal level, is still believe that to be the truth.  We can’t move the clock back.  However, as a customer, it’s offensive that a company gets rid of good employees because they can find a cheaper alternative.  Customers are alienated when the people they’ve done business with disappear.  It seems that the banks don’t care.  Money first; people last.  Too often that has become the model for business in America.

Posted: December 23, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

Huffington Post reports that Snarf’s, a chain sub shop, has fired all of its employees at a Chicago restaurant three days before Christmas.  It informed its former staffers in the most personal way – email.  20 employees lost their jobs because the store will be “reconcepted” as a burger joint.  The chain’s Director of Marketing told Huffpo that the employees should not have been surprised because “they were aware of the loss of business over the last year.”  How would she have felt if she were laid off three days before Christmas?

This story is another example that shows how employees are just numbers to large corporations and chains.  What would it have cost a national chain like Snarf’s to wait until the end of the week?  It might have cost them the chance to turn the knife.  Employees at this store participated in a fast food workers’ strike that took place earlier this month.  Retaliation?  No, they say, it’s all just business.  Hopefully Snarf’s customers will treat the chain the same way it treat its workers.  A company that can be this cold at this time doesn’t deserve to exist.

P.S. (12-26-2013)  The CEO of Snarf’s, Jim Seidel, has issued an apology for how the layoff was handled.  To his credit, Seidel called the action, “insensitive and poorly planned.”  He also wrote that employees would be provided an extra week of wages.  This admission shows that pressure and negative PR matter.  We who support a living wage need to remember this lesson.