Target: Karen Rispoli, wronged Seattle Metro worker
Goal: Thank a wrongfully fired worker for having the courage to fight back against the company that fired her
When Karen Rispoli was fired two years ago for operating a light-rail train with an open door, she had two options. She could either accept what was clearly a wrongful termination or she could fight back. She chose to fight back. Luckily for Karen Rispoli, a recent decision reached by the court resulted in Karen getting her job back and substantial back pay, too.
Not everyone is as lucky as Karen, nor as courageous. When big corporations decide that they want an individual fired, it does not take much for them to manufacture circumstances that they can twist to their own goals. In this case, Karen had a history of calling out her employers on sexual harassment and discrimination, which may have contributed to the company’s desire to get rid of her. Even when an employee like Karen has the backing of a union, it can be terrifying to try and stand up for what’s right.
Many people have slandered Karen’s name because she dares to use one of the few methods available to her to fight back: the court. In the United States, the court system was designed so that anyone who had a legitimate reason could sue someone else and have an impartial court hear their case. Many people, however, think that individuals like Karen who utilize this basic human right to protect oneself are merely ‘sue-happy’ or seeking money. They do not realize that people like Karen use the court system because it–and the sometimes substantial financial settlements attached to outcomes–are one of the few things that will make big corporations listen to employees.
Congratulate Karen on her successful victory against the employer who wrongfully fired her. Applaud her for fighting back against a system that is determined to keep people like her silent and oppressed.
Dear Karen Rispoli,
Congratulations on your recent victory against Metro. I know it can be hard to have the courage to fight back against big corporations such as this. Usually these cases are seen as your word against theirs. Luckily, however, you had the perseverance to continue fighting even when people slandered your name.
What happened to you was completely unethical. You were targeted because you dared to speak out against racism, sexual harassment, and technical malfunctions of the equipment. You preformed your job to the best of your ability, given the malfunctioning equipment. When the problem with the open door arose, you asked for permission to fix it, followed the directions on how to fix it, and, according to the readout on the panel on the train, the problem was fixed.
The Metro, however, saw it as a perfect opportunity to fire you because you refused to stay silent against discrimination and other problems within the company. They decided to ignore the part where you asked for permission, tried to fix the problem, and continued to operate your train according to procedure. Instead, they simply focused on how the door was open, which was neither your fault nor anything you could have prevented.
Thankfully, the court decided rightfully in your favor. They could not have done that, though, if you had not had the courage to fight back in the first place against unfair businesses like Metro. Thank you for your bravery. It gives everyone else in your position the courage to do the same.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Oran Viriyincy via Wikimedia