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Business Owner Livid After Manager Goes AWOL Because She Was Taking A ‘Mental Health Day’

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Where is the line between respecting the needs of employees and doing what is totally necessary to keep a business afloat?

That was the question at the center of a recent post on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.

The Original Poster (OP), known as Absolut_Failure on the site, shared how far things went in the post’s title. 

“AITA for telling an employee she can choose between demotion or termination?”

OP began with some logistics. 

“I own a vape shop. We’re a small business, only 12 employees.”

“One of my employees, Peggy, was supposed to open yesterday. Peggy has recently been promoted to Manager, after 2 solid years of good work as a cashier.”

“I really thought she could handle the responsibility.”

But OP was blindsided.

“So, I wake up, 3 hours after the place should be open, and I have 22 notifications on the store Facebook page.”

“Customers have been trying to come shop, but the store is closed. Employees are showing up to work, but they’re locked out.”

Naturally, they looked into it. 

“I call Peggy, and get no response. I text her, same thing.”

“So I go in and open the store. An hour before her shift was supposed to be over, she calls me back.”

“I ask her if she’s ok, and she says she needed to ‘take a mental health day and do some self-care.’ “

That was not what OP was expecting to hear.

“I’m still pretty pi**ed at this point, but I’m trying to be understanding, as I know how important mental health can be.”

“So I ask her why she didn’t call me as soon as she knew she needed the day off. Her response: ‘I didn’t have enough spoons in my drawer for that.’ “

That response left OP needing to a make a tough call. 

“Frankly, IDK what that means. But it seems to me like she’s saying she cannot be trusted to handle the responsibility of opening the store in the AM.”

“So I told her that she had two choices:

  1. “Go back to her old position, with her old pay.”
  2. “I fire her completely.”

Then came Peggy’s response. 

‘She’s calling me all sorts of ‘-ist’ now, and says I’m discriminating against her due to her poor mental health and her gender.”

“None of this would have been a problem if she simply took 2 minutes to call out. I would have got up and opened the store on time.”

“But this no-call/no-show shit is not the way to run a successful business.”

OP was struggling to make heads or tails of the whole thing. 

“I think I might be the AH here, because I am taking away her promotion over something she really had no control over.”

“But at the same time, she really could have called me.”

“So, reddit, I leave it to you: Am I the a**hole?”

Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Most Redditors agreed with OP. They assured them they hadn’t been an a**hole. 

Fortunately, one Redditor was kind enough to elaborate on that “spoon” comment.

“The ‘spoons’ thing is referring to Spoon Theory. A psychological theory regarding the amount of energy it takes someone to perform a task.”

“In this example, a ‘normal’ person might need 1 spoon yo call out, but someone with mental/chronic illness might need 4. Essentially a way of explaining that it can be harder to do things when you have mental illnesses, in a quantifiable way.”

But that Redditor went on to set the record straight. 

“That being said, as a neurodivergent person, it is complete and utter bullshit that she didn’t make herself call you. It isn’t just her shirking a responsibility. It is her making a decision that effects your livelihood and the livelihood of 12 other people.”

“Not to mention the way she effected the customers, cause how many more tried to come to the store and didn’t say anything on the FB?”

“If she didn’t have enough spoons to work, fine. But if she can’t be trusted to uphold her managerial duties, mental health or otherwise, she doesn’t deserve that responsibility. She doesn’t deserve the raise and title that go with it. NTA” — Salt-Superior

Bearing that in mind, plenty stated that OP was more than patient enough given all that happened.  

“NTA You aren’t taking it away because of her gender or poor mental health You are reacting to her not following the sickness policy of contacting you before her shift”

“TBH not showing up or contacting anyone I wouldn’t have been giving her the choice (however check that legally you are ok with that)” — iolaus79

“NTA. you don’t have enough spoons in your drawer to deal with incompetent managers.” — oopsthoughtoutloud

“Personally, I would not have given her the option of her old job back. I would have politely fired her over the telephone and been done with her.” — OkTomorrow9194

Many argued that she was downplaying her capacities. 

“NTA She had absolute control over calling in to tell you she couldn’t do her work. Not only is that expected, it’s simply polite. You would not be able to run a business if your employees randomly don’t turn up without notice.”

“She is absolutely taking you for a ride here.” — Inevitable-Mastodon1

“NTA. People like Peggy are the reason other people with mental health issues are so afraid to speak up about it; because there’s a suspicion you’re ‘milking it’ or ‘doing it for attention’ when you have a genuine need, or that you’re less capable of functioning in society because of it.”

“I’m not invalidating Peggy’s mental health condition, btw. I’m saying that having mental illness does not excuse you from being considerate to others. There’s a difference between self care and selfishness.” — rougecomete

“NTA. She fu**ed up bigtime, and you are being more than generous by not immediately firing her.”

“It takes two minutes to call or text that she can’t make it. If she can’t even put in that tiny bit of effort, she isn’t qualified to be in a position to be responsible for opening the store.”

“That kind of flaky sh** can really harm a shops reputation. Ask her what having to shut down the business would do for the mental health of the other employees.” — MightyHydrar

Looks like Peggy is going to have to live with one of OP’s two choices. 

Written by Eric Spring

Eric Spring lives in New York City. He has poor vision and cooks a good egg. Most of his money is spent on live music and produce. He usually wears plain, solid color sweatshirts without hoods because he assumes loud patterns make people expect something big. Typically, he'll bypass a handshake and go straight for the hug.