Saturday, October 01, 2022

Florida CEO urged staff to work through Ian. Then she took it back. (WaPo)

Vicious behavior by bad boss before Hurricane Ian hit Tampa,

Reminds me of some of the very bad bosses I encountered in environmental whistleblower cases.Reminds me of a peculiar response that I got some two decades from a maladroit administrative adjudicator (to a request for a continuance as a hurricane was headed to our house in Florida).

Pray for this harridan to show some decent respect for her employees.

From The Washington Post:

Florida CEO urged staff to work through Ian. Then she took it back.

A view from South Tampa on Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Ian's landfall in Southwest Florida. (Octavio Jones for The Washington Post)

As Hurricane Ian neared on Monday, employees of a Clearwater, Fla., marketing firm gathered in a conference room to watch their CEO on a large screen.

Hurricane Ian, then a Category 1 storm that was expected to grow, was a “nothingburger” that was overplayed by the media, said PostcardMania CEO Joy Gendusa, who addressed workers remotely from the passenger seat of a car. Then she asked those who were afraid of the storm to raise their hands.

“It’s not going to be that bad,” Gendusa said in a video recording of the meeting obtained by The Washington Post.

“Obviously, you feeling safe and comfortable is of the utmost importance, but I honestly want to continue to deliver and I want to have a good end of quarter,” Gendusa said. “And when it turns into nothing I don’t want it to be like, ‘Great, we all stopped producing because of the media and [thought] maybe that it was going to be terrible.'”

By Monday morning, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) had already warned that by midweek the hurricane would pose a “significant risk of life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall” to the state’s west coast and the Panhandle. Multiple schools and colleges had already shut their doors in preparation for Ian.

Several PostcardMania employees, who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation, said Gendusa’s comments made them feel underappreciated and exploited.

Her remarks come as the pandemic and burnout have led many to reevaluate their work conditions, giving rise to conversations about the Great Resignation and quiet quitting.

Hours later, Gendusa’s remarks sparked a barrage of social media comments criticizing the company for urging staffers to work.

The company has since announced its offices will not open on Wednesday and Thursday, adding it would also offer two days of paid time off for those working remotely or volunteering at a shelter, PostcardMania spokeswoman Jessica Lalau told The Post in an email.

Gendusa did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post.

Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida as Category 4

Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane with winds up to 150 mph. It tied the fifth-strongest hurricane to hit the United States. Its winds and flooding would continue as the storm makes its way inland, the National Hurricane Center reported. By Wednesday afternoon, more than 1 million customers in southwestern Florida had lost power.

Several employees present at the Monday meeting told The Post thatGendusa’s remarks made them feel as if their safety was less important than the company making a profit. Even when officials were ordering some to evacuate their homes, management expected them to work from the office, employees said.

“She is in her car driving away from us and telling us to keep working,” one employee told The Post. “It just felt wrong. I’m going to have to work and you’re driving in your SUV, taking off.”

Another worker added: “There was a huge disconnect between her and her employees. Not everybody lives in a nice place or in a safe place like her.”

After Monday’s meeting, some employees took to private platforms to vent over Gendusa’s remarks. Others, though, were so upset that they shared their discontent with other colleagues from their desks.

It wasn’t until Tuesday when the company sent a message telling employees that the offices would be closed on Wednesday and Thursday, staffers told The Post. But management told workers they must work 40 hours this week. If power went out and they couldn’t work Wednesday or Thursday, they must make up their hours before the end of the week, according to some workers. In response to a question about the 40-hour work requirement, the PostcardMania spokeswoman shared Gendusa’s Wednesday message.

On Wednesday, following the backlash on social media, the company announced it was giving workers paid time off.

In a Wednesday email sent by company spokeswoman Lalau and shared with The Post, employees were told that Gendusa’s remarks at the meeting were her “personal opinion” and “not an official PostcardMania position in any way.”

“Following Joy’s remarks, PostcardMania’s president Melissa Bradshaw took the meeting over and reiterated that making sure everyone was safe was our #1 priority,” Lalau said in the email.

But some employees were not buying Gendusa’s attempt to reverse course, calling her statement disingenuous.

“She speaks for the company,” one worker told The Post. “She is the company. She is the boss.”

Even before the company agreed to give them paid time off, workers told The Post, most of them had already decided they were not going to go into the office on Wednesday and Thursday.

One worker attempted to work from home on Wednesday but faced internet issues.

“Even if I wanted to work I couldn’t,” the worker told The Post. For now, they were staying put at home, waiting for whatever Ian would bring.

“There is no company worth sacrificing for,” the worker said. “I wouldn’t give my life [or my belongings] for any company.”

Andrea Salcedo is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2020 as a reporter on the Morning Mix team, The Post's overnight desk. Previously, she covered breaking news and features for the New York Times metro desk.  Twitter


Anonymous said...

They could realistically forbid people from building in areas prone to catastrophe... but no.."freedom" to lose all your assets, bankrupt already failing insurance companies, and die while potentially costing the taxpayer billions remains the standard. That and freedom for the rich, freedom t-shirts for everyone else!

Anonymous said...

My best guess is that they will rebuild Sanibel Island as quickly as possible, styrofoam and cardboard structures, and then sell them as "dwellings" for top dollar as "hurricane proof", or rent the death traps for $4000 a month. Insurance salesman of course will be able to exploit the idiots who put themselves in this situation for tens of thousands of dollars a year. Florida empty suit government will cheer.

Anonymous said...

I call BS on the St Augustine evacuation orders. They cried wolf. The place was barely effected.