Should 14 El Monte, Calif. Lifeguards have been fired for making this video?

Here it is... You be the judge!

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Sorry, double post.

Well said Ron. A teachable moment is huge!

Although the video may arguably not have been in good taste, fortunately there was no property damage and no one was harmed. Wearing the hat of a human resources specialist, an argument can be made that the firing of staff might have been an over reaction by administrators. Recruitment and training of staff carries costs that cannot be ignored, particularly times of budget tightening. It is clear staff violated policy (if the facts I have read are correct) and in the minds of those deliberating, termination was justified. To better understand this position, there is one other fact connected to this article that seems to have escaped scrutiny but no doubt has relevance, and might explain why administrators reacted as they did.

 

In July 2006 the City of El Monte suffered a drowning episode when lifeguards failed to identify a 13 year-old boy at the bottom of the pool. It is reasonable to speculate that this might have created a heightened organizational sensitivity that led to the unequivocal and abrupt termination of personnel.

That these kids got fired, and the guard's (supervisors) at another park - who filmed this little number ...when patrons were in the water...and not being watched, is really difficult for me to grasp. Or were the these guards fired as well?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIcIAm7h73E

Notice the on-duty guards in position on the pool deck, pausing their scanning to film a music video...really?


They made an encore, with supervisors, two years later (again, with some scenes filmed while on duty) ...So it must be alright.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_fQ_mHAH0c&feature=related

Mario:

I absolutely agree and I have heard today that the El Monte 14 have been reinstated. A wrong well righted, in my humble opinion.

I saw that too. As is always the case, the organization who wants to not be embarrassed by a social post - fire the people who made, draw way more attention to the thing than it would EVER have gotten otherwise, and really embarrass themselves.

I believe the decision to fire the lifeguards was bizarre (I note they have been rehired). I work in water safety/management in Australia. For many people living outside of the USA, the impression of American workplaces is they often take a ‘fire first, ask questions later’ approach to employment matters, no matter how large or small the offence. Quite often, this approach turns out to be counterproductive – as in this case and with the firing of lifeguard Tomas Lopez.

Having watched the video, and read a good deal of commentary on the matter, I fail to see why this was a fireable offence. No one’s life was put in danger, and no property was damaged. One could of course argue there was a policy in place and the reputation of the employer was damaged – although (other than the city itself and a couple of people posting here) there doesn’t seem to be many people claiming they were offended by the video. In fact, the general consensus appears to be it was good-natured fun by a team of motivated lifeguards.

One of our jobs as aquatic venue managers is to decide on the appropriate level of disciplinary action when rules are broken. I believe this incident should have warranted a verbal or written warning and a reminder about policy (this is certainly what I would have done if it had occurred at the facility I manage). With respect to the people posting here, what does firing these lifeguards, who by all accounts are good at their jobs and have had no prior incidents, achieve?

What happened to counselling and mentoring young people – who will of course make mistakes? Surely sitting them down, giving them a strong reprimand, explaining why certain policies are put in place and asking them to take down the video would have achieved so much more as a learning experience than firing them on the spot.

Really good lifeguards are hard to come by – as aquatic managers we should be trying to hang on to and upskill them (and where necessary remind them of the rules and decide on appropriate disciplinary action). Not firing them in knee-jerk reactions to incidents that aren’t about public safety. 

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