by Jim Walsh
Attorney at Law
Walsh, Anderson, Gallegos, Green & Treviño, P.C. Dear Dawg:
Can we sue that smarty pants that does the Doonesbury cartoon? He has been making fun of Texas of late, ridiculing the efforts of some of our citizens to secede from the union. He has indicated that some people would be happy to see us go. He has accused us of making grammatical mistakes in the Petition to Secede. The majority of our school board is in favor of secession and we would like to see us take legal action against Mr. Trudeau. With a name like that, we doubt that he is a real American anyway. What can we do? LOOKING FORWARD TO THE RESTORATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS.
DEAR LOOKING FORWARD:
We don’t think your suit would do much good. We don’t know much about Mr. Trudeau, and we cannot vouch for his citizenship, but we are sure that his satirical work in the Doonesbury cartoon is protected by the First Amendment. Of course after Texas secedes we will no longer enjoy the protection of the First Amendment, but Mr. Trudeau will. So you can sue, but we think you should keep your legal powder dry, preserving it for other battles.
As far as the rest of your comments, we think it is undeniably true that there are those who would be happy to see us go. Consider: the Aggies are going to win the national championship in football next year. It’s a sure thing. So all those other football powers—Alabama, Florida and the rest—would love it if we drop out. And think of it from the Aggie perspective. If we secede, just what nation will they be champion of? Hmmmm. No great glory in being the national champion of Texas.
And he is right about grammatical errors. The Petition says that seceding would “protect it’s citizens’ standard of living…” There should be no apostrophe in “it’s.” I don’t know about you, but I would reject any resume from a job applicant that contains a typo, and any petition for secession that fails to use the apostrophe properly.
We received an anonymous letter yesterday from someone who claims to have graduated from our high school seven years ago. In part, it reads: “As a prank, I put a fake FMLA poster on the bulletin board in the teachers’ lounge at the high school, just before I graduated. I was sure that this would be discovered quickly. But no. Last week I went back to the high school, bopped by the teachers’ lounge and found that my fake poster is still there. You might want to take a look at it.”
So I did. OMG! You have seen these posters, I’m sure. It’s a big poster—two feet by three feet of mostly small print, advising employees of their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act. But we discovered that it is all wrong. Here are some of the things our notice has been saying:
IF YOU GET PREGNANT AROUND HERE, YOU BETTER START LOOKING FOR ANOTHER JOB.
IF YOU HAVE A SERIOUS ILLNESS IN THE FAMILY, YOU GET TO TAKE SOME TIME OFF, BUT “SERIOUS” DEPENDS ON HOW HIGH YOU ARE ON THE FOOD CHAIN AROUND HERE. CENTRAL OFFICE ADMINISTRATORS GET FMLA LEAVE FOR THE COMMON COLD. TEACHER AIDES AND CUSTODIANS MUST PRESENT A NOTARIZED STATEMENT FROM A DOCTOR INDICATING THAT A SLOW AND AGONIZING DEATH IS CERTAIN WITHIN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS.
YOU CAN TAKE FMLA LEAVE TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR MOTHER, BUT NOT YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW. TELL YOUR HUSBAND TO TAKE OFF WORK!
DON’T BE ASKING FOR LEAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THAT LIVE-IN GIRLFRIEND. WE WANT PROOF OF MARRIAGE.
OUR POLICY IS TO GRANT FMLA LEAVE GRUDGINGLY WHEN THE LAW REQUIRES THAT WE DO SO. DON’T EXPECT US TO BE HAPPY ABOUT IT, OR TO SEND A CARD TO YOUR AILING RELATIVE.
Dawg, apparently this fake poster has been on the wall for several years. It is coffee stained and cracked in places. We have scoured our policies, handbooks and employment forms, and all other materials are proper and correct statements of the law. But this poster in the teachers’ lounge has been wrong for quite some time. What to do? WILL BE CHECKING ALL OTHER CAMPUSES RIGHT AWAY.
DEAR WILL BE CHECKING:
Well, I guess that demonstrates how often people actually read those things. We don’t know how much of a problem this presents, but we think you need to be prepared to show that you have actually complied with the FMLA by granting leave appropriately. We’d love to meet the kid who pulled this off. It demonstrates savvy, creativity and a wicked sense of humor—much more sophisticated than your typical senior prank.