Beyond dating, ‘ghosting’ becoming common in workplace
“Ghosting” has come to mean suddenly ceasing all communication in the dating context. But it turns out that getting ghosted is not just reserved for the dating world – it is happening in the workplace as well. With low unemployment, workers have more options, especially in entry-level jobs. In addition, the stigma attached to having multiple short-term positions, or even holes, on a resume seems to have lessened, if not disappeared altogether.
Stories abound of job candidates who agree to an interview and never show up – or accept a job and fail to appear for the first day of work. And the behavior is not limited to candidates. More and more, we are hearing stories of employees who fail to appear for work one day, with no formal resignation and no explanation given.
When an employee abandons a job without warning, what should an employer do?
When an employee disappears without a trace, the company generally has no choice but to terminate employment. Employers should have in place a written policy that clearly sets out a call-in procedure. The policy further should specify that a certain length of time – usually three days – of no attendance and no explanation (“no call/no show”) will be considered a voluntary resignation, and employers should treat job abandonment as such. With those policies in place, in most of these situations, the employee will not qualify for unemployment benefits.
An otherwise straightforward situation can be complicated, however, if the “ghosting” employee’s absence may be explained by medical reasons. Consider, for example, the scenario of the employee who goes missing after telling his supervisor of a doctor’s appointment or the employee with a history of psychiatric illness who suddenly stops showing up at the office. In either case, the Family and Medical Leave Act and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act may be implicated. If the employer suspects that the employee’s absence may be medically related in any way, the employer should investigate before terminating, including reasonable attempts to contact the employee and his/her emergency contact through all available means.
Employers faced with an employee “ghosting” situation should consult with experienced human resources professionals and/or labor and employment counsel when in doubt about the appropriate course of action. For MEA members, the Hotline and a Member Legal Services attorney are available to provide this assistance.
About the Author
Amy McAndrew is MEA’s Director of Member Legal Services and has over twenty years of experience as a labor and employment attorney.