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Fired In Public

(File photo.  Credit: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

(File photo. Credit: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Not since Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer asked Bob Costas whether he’d like to talk to his client on the air has someone realized a little too late that perhaps some conversations should happen privately, as AOL chief Tim Armstrong who, in the middle of a speech at a public meeting of a thousand people, interrupted himself to say to the company’s creative director, Abel Lenz: ‘Abel! Put down that camera. Abel, you’re fired. Out!’ And then continued his speech.

Armstrong has since apologized for the public nature of the termination but hasn’t gone so far as to offer Mr. Lenz his job back. Many have suggested that Mr. Lenz should sue. But sue for what?

Unless Mr. Lenz had an employment contract or was party to a collective bargaining agreement, he’d be what’s called an employee at will. That means that he – like most of us – can be fired at any time for any reason, including the fact that he worked for a jerk. Said jerk may feel the wrath of the public, where human people think before they go and destroy someone else’s livelihood, lest he finds his own job in jeopardy by the shareholders who pay him to make good decisions.

As for Mr. Lenz, he has no lawsuit but he also doesn’t have to report in a business suit to someone who treats him shabbily.

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