It can be detrimental to job security to violate Legal Pub's fundamental principle: Don't Have Your Honey Where You Make Your Money. Mark Everson, former head of the Red Cross, resigned because of a "personal relationship" with a subordinate employee. According to the Red Cross, this "reflected poor judgment ... and diminished his ability to lead the organization." Bad judgment, yes, but is that fair to ask for his resignation?
Why is it poor judgment? Statistics document that the work place is the number one place where people meet their significant other. "Poor judgment?" Everson is no dummy. He was formerly a corporate executive and commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. He was hired as the CEO of the Red Cross in May of 2007 to help improve the charity's public image post Hurricane Katrina. Consequently, at first glance, one would be hesitant to criticize Everson's decision making without more facts.
So, if it is common for work place romances to take place and Everson is a bright guy, why was it poor judgment? Everson is 53 years old, married and has two children. (Enough said.)
What does Everson have to say? "I am resigning for personal and family reasons, and deeply regret it is impossible for me to continue a job so recently undertaken."
Is there a problem with turnover at the Red Cross? Everson's resignation is par for the course. Two women preceding Everson as president resigned amid conflict with the board of governors. (Bernadette Healy after the Sept. 11 attacks and Marsha Evans after Katrina.) Jack McGuire, served as interim president between Evans' departure and Everson's appointment.
Who takes over the position? Mary S. Elcano, Red Cross general counsel, was appointed as interim president and CEO.
Where does this leave Everson? In a July Associated Press article after taking the job, Everson had said, "My 18-year-old daughter said, 'People will like you now."' After his recent publicity concerning bad judgment involving a relationship with a staff member, it is unlikely that his daughter's prognostication as to his popularity will remain true.