by Brody K. Truce
Senior Staff Writer
For years, a silent yet bitter war has divided employees at Carter College. The issue: unscheduled leave for “childcare issues.” According to the employee handbook, Carter College permits employees with exempt status who work at least two hours of any given day to leave early without taking vacation so that they may attend to family emergencies.
“On the surface, it looks like a case of jealousy, pitting the ‘haves’ against the ‘have nots,’” said Teresa Hunt, the college’s human resource manager. “But it goes much deeper than that. This is really about time thievery.”
Early this spring, Carter College librarians filed a grievance against fellow librarian and mother Kathy Barker, citing 22 instances in the month of February in which she missed portions of the workday due to “child care issues.”
“I’m absolutely perplexed by the behavior,” explained fellow librarian Jack Liang, father of none. “There are only 28 days in the whole month. How can one child be sick that often?”
In the grievance, Mrs. Barker’s coworkers tallied a total of 7.36 workdays that she had missed during the month of February due to childcare issues. The document outlined more than eight years of similar behavior from Mrs. Baker.
“The behavior was outlandish,” said Phyllis Sherman, senior librarian and foster mother to three cats. “I certainly don’t run home every time one of my cats throws up a fur ball.”
“Basically, the woman left early every time her child had an unscheduled bowel movement, leaving the rest of us to do her job,” complained Noel Stevens, a barren colleague who worked with Barker for over a decade. “She’s being rewarded with extra vacation days for getting knocked up. Or for being a lousy parent. What kind of mother lets her kid get sick that often?”
Human Resources fired Mrs. Barker early last Friday under article 15 of the employee handbook, which prohibits wanton abuse of vacation and sick leave policies.
“We’re hoping to send a strong message to all of our employees about time theft,” said Hunt. “Especially those who only seem able to find childcare until about 2 o’clock in the afternoon.”
Carter College officials are currently working with campus attorneys to investigate the legality of pressing criminal charges for time theft.
Mrs. Barker declined an interview with The Cronk of Higher Education stating that she had to run home to take care of her son, who had a case of “the piddles.”