Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Judge Vonda Evans And Short Workdays

I work in a professional white collar environment. Usually (90% of the time) the work is constant and frantic. People have little time to do anything but their paid work. On other occasions work slows down and you see/hear people doing things like checking Facebook, buying things on Amazon, playing Sudoku, discussing sports, gossiping, talking to loved ones on the phone, complaining about spouses, or (ahem) writing blog posts. Some of the higher-ups don't like this very much but most people are professional. Work comes first. Unless your boss really doesn't like you or you go out of your way to embarrass your boss by ostentatiously slacking off, he or she probably won't demand that you account for every last minute of your work day. Everything generally should come out even in the end. I remember that once a boss questioned a co-worker who was leaving a few hours early. Without missing a beat the co-worker asked our mutual boss if he had heard of casual overtime. The boss replied that of course he had. The co-worker responded that then the boss could consider the early departure time casual undertime. 

Every company or organization has a different culture.The trick is to know your organization's written and unwritten rules. However, wherever you work, regularly getting to work two or three hours after the normal start time and consistently leaving two or three hours before the normal leave time is going to attract negative attention from co-workers and more importantly, bosses. Doing something like that makes it very obvious that you're not doing the work that you agreed to do. Your boss can't ignore this because if she doesn't correct it other workers will start to do the same thing. Your boss might see your actions as a direct challenge to her authority. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans, a judge with a certain reputation for a short fuse and sharp tongue, has apparently decided that she will keep her own hours thank you very much. 

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans, one of the more recognizable and outspoken judges on the Wayne County Circuit bench, is under fire for her attendance and for showing up late to work. Undercover surveillance and court records show a pattern, with Evans arriving at work late, leaving early and—on some days—not showing up while still earning nearly $140,000 a year, reports WXYZ's Ross Jones.

Evans thinks the criticism is unfair, telling Jones:
“When your job is done and you’ve done it right, you should be able to have the ability to leave.”

Other Wayne County judges work far less, she claims. But Chief Judge Robert Colombo is troubled.  “It’s very disturbing to me that she arrives at 10 o’clock in the morning,” Colombo tells WXYZ. “That’s a clear violation of our local administrative order.”

WDIV's Mara MacDonald, who also broadcast a story about Evans' on Monday night, reports that three years of records place her in the low-middle to bottom of the pile in the weekly court docket management numbers.

"There is no question in my mind Judge Evans knows how to manage criminal cases," Judge Colombo tells MacDonald. "The issue with Judge Evans, as it was and apparently is now, is whether Judge Evans is working a full day."

Is she the only judge doing this? Extremely doubtful. In my limited experience with judges they feel their time is every so much more valuable than yours.They'll be late or cancel appointments any time they damn well feel like it. But don't you try that. Is Evans the worst? I don't know. But I know that if you fly straight and do the work you're supposed to be doing you don't have to worry about nosy people checking your work hours. Evans may well be correct when she says that her workplace culture is such that her approach isn't unusual. But if you get busted for doing something wrong it's not really a defense to talk about all the other people who are also doing wrong. To be fair, like Evans, I would also get a little annoyed if someone who wasn't my boss questioned why I wasn't at work on a particular day without also knowing that I took that day as a scheduled vacation day or sick day or personal day or was in offsite training or was taking a family member to the hospital or was attending a funeral or had a medical emergency or needed to get work done on my car or home or had any number of other valid reasons for missing work that are nobody's business but mine and (maybe) my boss's. 

I also know however from observation and personal experience that negative impressions can be very hard to overcome once you're defined by them. If you're routinely coming in late and leaving early then your boss and co-workers won't view the days you take off as legitimate sick or vacation days. They'll just think that's more time you're not working. Initially I thought this piece was a bit of an unfair drive-by hit job on Evans. But the fact that she's allegedly reporting herself as working when she hasn't worked isn't right. That is a fair criticism to make of the judge. Because when you do that you really are stealing money. And you know this. I think that Evans needs to ensure that on the days she's at work she's there for a full day. Because fair or not, people are always watching.
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