Over the past several years, you may have noticed that we've not so subtly dedicated more print and online space to workplace policies and strategies surrounding CPA firms.

While that encompasses a rather expansive array of subject matter from hiring and firing to incentives, diversity and mentoring, one that took on current relevance last week concerned employer guidelines and the consequences of bypassing thereof.

Although admittedly a bit out of the accounting space, I refer to the recent suspension of liberal bloviator Keith Olbermann, host of the eponymous nightly "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on MSNBC.

Olbermann was suspended for several days when it was reported that he contributed $2,400 each to Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, and to two members of the House from Arizona, Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.

NBC, parent to MSNBC, apparently has a policy that states an employee making campaign donations "may

find that these activities jeopardize his or her

standing as an impartial journalist."

Now one of the last adjectives I'd ever apply to Olbermann would be "impartial" but as a journalist, I'd be the last one to deny that today's members of the Fourth Estate hardly make concerted efforts to mask their political leanings.

In an open letter tohis viewers, Olbermann blamed NBC for creating a donation policy he termed was "inconsistently applied," and said he did not know the rule existed.

Considering his predilection for arrogantly lording his intellect I don't believe that for a second. But I digress.

His suspension immediately triggered a protracted debate on my Facebook page (speaking of workplace policies, but that's fodder for a future column) many of whom I know from covering the profession.

One correctly predicted that Olbermann is the star of the MSNBC network and would be back shortly. I pointed out that being a star on MSNBC was like being the top-rated quarterback in the Canadian Football League.

But here's the rub, those that cut his considerable paycheck have the luxury of implementing workplace guidelines no matter how stringent they're perceived. Nor is this the first skirmish Olbermann has had with management of his current or former employers.

For those keeping score at home, Conway lost to Republican RandPaul, while Grijalva and Giffords won close races.

If the ultra conservative FOX News had a similar policy prohibiting campaign donations (which they apparently do not) and their top-rated hosts - Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly - ignored them, they should, like Olbermann, have been suspended as well.

Remember, it wasn't all that long ago that IBM had a non-negotiable dress policy of adark blue or gray suit, white shirt, and a "sincere" tie.

If an employee balked they were encouraged to take their talents elsewhere. I imagine very few did.

Closer to home, a company I once worked for prohibited personal calls (this before the advent of cell phones), relenting only in the direst of emergencies. Once an employee was nearly fired for checking up on her daughter when she arrived from school.

Draconian to be sure, but unfortunately the rules.

Whether you're Keith Olbermann or an entry-level CPA, you're tethered to the company guidelines and, fortunately, or unfortunately all that it implies.

 

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