Man takes time off work for stress, returns only to be fired

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2013 | Wrongful Termination |

Because of a news story that is sweeping news agencies around the world, people here in Indiana are beginning to question how far of a reach their employers have when it comes to your mental health. This is especially true when it comes to doctor-ordered vacations and whether or not you can be fired for what you do while on said vacation.

In the news story, a 62-year-old man from Wales had been under considerable stress at work. As had his wife, so after being advised by their physician to take time off of work to alleviate the work-related stress, the couple decided to take a trip to Australia. But while relaxing on a beach, a brave stunt by the man landed him in some serious trouble at work.

It was a split-second decision. The man saw the shark, he saw the children swimming nearby and without hesitation, he leapt into the water, grabbing the shark by the tail and pulled it into deeper water away from the children. Many people the world over, including here in Indiana, see his action as heroic. But his employer thinks differently.

After returning home, there was a letter waiting for him in his mailbox stating that he had been terminated from his job. As it would seem, his employer was under the impression that he had been taking time off for physical illness rather than mental. According to the termination letter, his employer felt as if the man had lied to them about his need for sick leave, stating snidely that he was not well enough to work but well enough to wrestle a shark.

Although the termination happened oceans away, the story has created a springboard for conversation here in the United States. People all over the nation are weighing in on whether his employer had the right to dismiss him from his job. Because he was ordered by his doctor to take a mental-health vacation, does his employer have any right to tell him what he may or may not do to de-stress? While the debate continues, people here in Indiana will definitely be second guessing the vacation rules at their own jobs so as to avoid a situation like this from happening to them.

Source:, “Man wrestles shark away from children while on vacation, gets fired,” Mar. 14, 2013


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