Attorney Loses Judicial Campaign, Then His Job - Strategist
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Attorney Loses Judicial Campaign, Then His Job

Was he fired or did he quit?

The answer is still not clear as the accusations between attorney John McPhee, and his former firm, bounce back and forth. McPhee had just finished an unsuccessful judicial campaign for 39th district court in Michigan and allegedly intended to return to work when he was informed that his "replacement" had been on the job for some time.

McPhee says he had no intention of quitting his job when firing up his "a blue collar judge for a blue collar community" judicial campaign. But it seems the head of his small law firm thought otherwise, reports the Macomb Daily.

John McPhee says he received a phone call from Robert Gittleman the morning after the election and was told he had been let go.

"I'm kind of flummoxed," McPhee told the Daily. "It's incredibly stunning. I lose an election and my job within 24 hours. That was heartless. He said my replacement was there while I was out working the polls."

Gittleman contends McPhee quit. "Of course he quit. He ran for judge."

Does running for elected office equate to handing in your letter of resignation? A local employment attorney weighed in.

James Curtiss, an area labor law attorney, told the Daily: "Running for district court judge is not tantamount to quitting, unless you say, 'I'm quitting to run for district court judge.'"

A political campaign is kind of like a painful job interview. There is no guarantee that you actually have the new position until the votes have been counted, so employees and their employers should act accordingly. Of course, if during the "interview" season the work the employee is being paid for is left undone, then firing for cause is an option.

In this case, McPhee claims all his work was consistently done despite campaigning and that there were no complaints about the quality of his work either. A written statement of intent by either side would have, of course, prevented confusion.

Even the incumbent Judge Catherine Steenland who, in popular terminology, gave McPhee a shellacking (winning with just over 70% of the vote) thinks it was a shame he lost his job. "I feel badly about that," Steenland said. "I hope he winds up on his feet."

McPhee says he will probably pursue more criminal defense work. Perhaps he should bone up on employment law first.

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