— This year, the “Your Career” columns that got readers the most engaged and enraged were about marijuana, moms and Muslims.
Employee rights, discrimination and workers overcoming the challenges they faced at work also seemed to draw the most reader reaction. I’ve taken a look back at some of the most popular columns of 2010 and I’ll share some of your thoughts on the workplace stories that made headlines.
1. Marijuana use at work
For example, a Wal-Mart employee in Michigan was fired because he used medical marijuana that was prescribed by a doctor for pain associated with a brain tumor. After five years working for the retail giant, during which time he was named associate of the year, Joseph Casias was terminated.
The case pointed to a conundrum for many employers who have a long-standing anti-drug policy and operate throughout the country, and how those policies can rub up against the medical marijuana laws that differ from state to state. It also reignited the national debate over whether or not medical marijuana should be legal nationally.
Many readers on the column had similar views to “SMD66”:
Many of you felt that Wal-Mart was in the wrong.
“Code for Nothing” wrote:
2. Working moms changing the work rules
The archetype of the 1950s “Company Man” just doesn’t fit the working mother of today, and many women are working hard to rewrite the climbing-the-ladder-of-success playbook.
This column offered examples of women pushing for change, including Tricia Kagerer, a 45-year-old working mom who negotiated with a Dallas-based construction company to work flexible hours so she could pick up and drop off her kids at day care and school. She is now the vice president of the firm.
Then there’s Lisa Depew, 34, who was an engineer for Intel when her first son was born and, after taking time off and requesting a part time schedule, is now a technical lead at the technology company.
With a growing number of female breadwinners and women making up more than 50 percent of the total work force for the first time, women like Kagerer and Depew may be in the best position to finally change what has long been a not-so-inviting work environment for working parents.
The column got many of you sharing your stories, and many also took issue with the fact that women are trying to change the rules:
For example, Lara wrote:
And this comment from Frank got a lot of you going:
3. Muslims face growing bias at workMuslim workers were already feeling the animosity toward their faith that emerged as a result of the national outcry against the building of a mosque near Ground Zero earlier this year.
Claims of discrimination against Muslim employees have more than doubled since 2004, and federal regulators told me intolerance and hatred of this group in the nation’s factories and offices was among the worst they had ever seen.
Unfortunately, a lot of that hatred came through loud and clear in the comments by readers after this column ran. The piece generated a record number of reader responses for a “Your Career” column, more than 6,000. (I’ve chosen not to run some of the more vile comments here in this column.)
Many of the comments questioned why any accommodations should be made for any religious group.
For example, Cmap98 wrote:
And Robert Eagle seemed to sum up what many readers were feeling:
Thank you for reading, and for all the comments. See you next year!