May 29, 2024

Richardson Column in The Free Lance-Star

UMW College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson

UMW College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson

College of Business Dean Lynne Richardson’s weekly column in The Free Lance-Star discusses how to enforce regulations in a company when it comes to employees with differing abilities. Read APPLYING RULES.


I heard a story that broke my heart. A young man on the autism spectrum has a job in a well-known organization. He made a snack purchase on the honor system at his office break room. When he scanned the item, he hit the wrong button and ended up canceling the transaction instead of charging it. But he didn’t realize what he had done and ate the item.

Later, he was confronted about stealing the $5 item. It’s my understanding that he didn’t explain what happened well, and was placed on suspension for a week. He thought he was going to lose his job, including his important benefits.

I first became aware of the situation while he was on suspension. A relative of his had shared the story and was concerned about what might happen. While I certainly had no way of knowing why he was suspended for a week over such a transgression, I was confident that he would not lose his job over it. The relative indicated he had worked there for 2½ years, had never been late, had never called in sick and volunteered to work late. He had even won a productivity award in a previous month. Read more.