There’s a fascinating article in Monday’s Toronto Sun about Keith Rasmus, the superintendent at Scarboro Golf and Country Club, one of Toronto’s oldest clubs. Rasmus took parental leave just as the club began an extensive renovation plan, and upon returning this month, was told the club would not be picking up his contract when it expires next year.
The story, written in traditional sensational Sun fashion, makes the case out ot be a battle between Scarboro’s so-called Old Boys and Rasmus, a forward-thinking super who took what was owed to him:
For generations at the manicured, verdant expanse of the Scarboro Golf and Country Club, well-heeled men have teed off, sipped their scotches and smoked their cigars.
What none of these gentlemen have done, it is probably safe to assume, is take paternity leave.
And so it seems to have come as a shock to the venerable old boys’ club when 42-year-old Keith Rasmus informed the management that he would be taking 9 months off from his job as golf course superintendent to spend time with his new baby son.
In fact, it seems to have offended their sensibilities so much that despite toiling at the club for some 25 years, Rasmus was handed his walking papers just the day before he headed off on his paternity leave.
“I think I’m being punished because I had the nerve to put my family before my job,” says the father of three from his Bradford home where he’s been caring for his youngest, 14-month-old Dylan.
“I shouldn’t be punished for taking a leave that’s completely legal.”
He’s right — he shouldn’t be punished for taking parental leave. It is every parent’s right. I took it when I was at the Post, for instance. But truth be told, I think there’s more to this story than a simply battle over parental leave.
Joe Murphy, Scarboro’s smooth talking GM, says as much in the story:
The club insists their decision not to renew his contract is not due to his taking time off to care for his son. “It absolutely had nothing to do with it,” says general manager Joe Murphy. “Keith has every right to take that leave.”
Yet he’ll now be out of a job once his contract ends next fall.
The story does mention the club wasn’t thrilled with Rasmus’ departure, which came at “the busiest time”:
He knew being away over the club’s busiest time would not be convenient but that’s why he gave plenty of notice, he says, and worked hard to have everything in place to run smoothly while he was gone.
“I told them I’m only a phone call away. I wasn’t abandoning them.”
However, he did leave just as the club was beginning a substantial restoration of its AW Tillinghast design, led by architects Ian Andrew and Gil Hanse. What the article doesn’t mention is that Rasmus actively battled with the club over the restoration and who should be hired. Club sources say his stance won him no friends, with several feeling he went beyond the scope of his role as superintendent. The truth is that Rasmus’ club was always in immaculate condition, but that came at a cost. Much of the course’s architecture had been simplified to make it easier to maintain. Greens shrunk over time, though the putting surfaces were always in terrific shape. It is my impression that the writer of the article has very little understanding of the nuances of the inner-workings of a private golf club, just as a superintendent would have little sense of the inner-workings of a newsroom.
In the end, we don’t have the club’s side of the story — as to why it decided to let Rasmus go. If it comes to trial, we’ll surely hear Scarboro’s side of this.
Anyway, apparently Scaboro told Rasmus his contract wouldn’t be picked up before he went on parental leave. As opposed to simply taking it quietly, parting ways with the club and finding a new club to work with — which is not always an easy thing to do — Rasmus decided to sue:
But the day before his leave was to begin, he was informed that his 2005 contract would not be renewed once it expires on Sept. 30, 2008.
Rasmus believes their decision was in retaliation for his daring to take parental leave and has launched a civil suit against the club seeking $825,000 in damages and a human rights complaint. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The article concludes with the shocking comment that Rasmus may be suing the club, but he also intends to work out the remainder of his contact. Now talk about uncomfortable.
The one thing I don’t understand is how someone can sue an employer for not extending their contract. Isn’t that why there’s a contract — to give the employer the prerogative to make a change if they want to? Why should they have to extend Rasmus’ deal?
The entire story is here. I’m sure we haven’t heard the end of this one.