Tim’s Story

Tim is 52 years old. He grew up in Westport.

Diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease — a neuromuscular disorder — he worked as a dishwasher at a local riding club for 12 years.

In April 2013, his 18-hour weeks were cut to 12. His condition was deteriorating, and he needed Social Security disability benefits.

He wants very much to work — and, for the past 15 years, has continued to be employed in a 2nd job at the Black Duck.

dishwasher

The riding club began a remodeling project in March, and laid off a number of kitchen helpers. Tim was among them.

As construction wound down last week, Tim went into the office to see when he could return to work. He was told — by a secretary, not the office manager — that no hours were available.

Tim had more seniority than anyone in the kitchen.

Adding further insult, he was told the riding club did not write letters of recommendation. If a potential employer wanted to know about him, Tim was told, they could call for information.

Tim was a loyal dishwasher for years. He worked through holidays, went in at the last minute for emergencies, emptied grease traps and cleaned vents.

He has no idea how, at 52 years old and handicapped, he’ll get another dishwashing job.

He got thrown off this particular horse that he loved. But he can’t wait to get right back up.

19 responses to “Tim’s Story

  1. That’s an upsetting story and one that does not seem to define the “community” that we live in in westport

    Being in a related business, I can only imagine that Tim was needed for long hours and last minute events and holidays at this riding club.

    I’m sure that when he worked on Christmas it wasn’t his first choice, but did it because he was committed to his work and thankful for his job.
    Commitment seems to be the key word, or lack there of. One would think that an employer would be somewhat committed to their employees or at least give them the respect they deserve after years of service with the understanding that their handicap might prohibit them from acquiring another job.

    That’s not a way to run a business, and it’s certainly not a way to treat people especially in a community like this.
    In my business I employ lots of high school kids: never as interns, always paid. And I do write lots of letters of recommendations. What’s the downside really? If it can help them out.

    Susie Blumenfeld
    Pink House Productions, LLC
    Susie@pinkhouseevents.com

  2. Heart-breaking but all too common.

  3. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    This is all too common and we really need to get a grip. “There but for the grace of God go we all.”

  4. Thanks for posting this Dan. I know Tim well and he put 110% into everything he does, with a smile and a positive attitude. He is also one of the most sincere and generous people I know. I won’t repeat the terrible ways that he has been treated at the club…. I hope he can find someplace else to work where he will be treated with the respect he deserves.

    • Miriam Weisel

      Hi Julie,
      There are a few websites that post dishwasher job openings in Fairfield County. Simplyhired.com and Indeed.com are just two of them. I noticed a few job openings this afternoon. Maybe you can help Tim by accessing these sites for him? Also, I think you are wrong about the club. I know a lot of members and staff over there (I used to live nearby) and they would never treat someone in the way that you suggest. In fact most of the employees that I have met, have worked there for a very long time. I know that you were only responding to the original blog, but keep in mind that information on the internet is not always 100% complete or accurate. Good luck with the sites that I gave you, and good luck to Tim.
      Miriam Weisel

  5. I know the Black Duck will be happy to write letters of recco…..

  6. If Tim can still do the job and the riding club has recalled other employees, but passed him up, he might have a good case under Connecticut and federal laws protecting employees from discrimination based on disability. I don’t know the real reasons the riding club hasn’t recalled him but it’s worth looking into. He should talk to their HR person to see if they’d reconsider and if they won’t, he should think about filing a complaint with CT. Human Rights Commission – or talking to a lawyer if he hasn’t already.

  7. I’m going to assume that the “local riding club” is the Fairfield County Hunt Club, which I see is maintaining it’s tradition of being out of step with Westport values.

    In the 1960s I was an invited guest at a holiday dance at the Hunt Club when the manager came over and asked me to leave as he had just been informed that I was Jewish and Jewish guests were against club policy. To their credit, all my friends stood up as a group and left with me.

    Sad that the only anti-Semitic act of discrimination I ever experienced should have been in my home town of Westport. I’ve never forgotten it; it was a seminal moment in my life.

    While I do not have all the facts in Tim’s case, it sure sounds like: The more things change the more they remain the same.

    • Do we really need to go there? Bringing up a case of petty antisemitism 50 years ago. Christ, that’s a long time to grind an ax! That doesn’t have any bearing on this instance and its a quite dated social dictum. Sadly, this is a common practice not just in local business, but in corporate America. CVS , a health company, has cut all their cashiers to 29.9 hours in order to not provide healthcare. Ever wonder why there are so many fewer people employed there at any given time? This is all to typical and my hoe is he lands on his feet.

  8. He should apply for a position at Trader Joe’s in Westport. It has some employees with special needs.

  9. Dan

    I have known Tim for nearly 18years . Tim is a very hard working person with always a small rye on his smile on his face. Tim has been dealt some adversity in his life but i have never seen him complain maybe the horse club could use little bit of his work ethic and infectious personality

  10. Debra Sullivan

    I met Tim through the Black Duck and rarely have I encountered such a kind, genuine man who is hard working despite his physical challenges. How many people with the gift of perfect health are we supporting because they are lazy? Too many to count, unfortunately. I sincerely hope some restaurateur will see this and give this sweet person a chance to WORK. Shame on that Hunt Club. It is astounding to me how cruel people can be in this time when we all need to treat one another with dignity, love and respect. Hope they enjoy their monied yuppies who care about nothing but themselves and their multiple homes and traumatic pedicures. NP

    • Ha! I really must laugh. I am also a patron of the Black Duck and have seen you pull up in your fancy sports car! Now I couldn’t confirm a pedicure or whether you own a second home, but you certainly match the description mentioned in your post!! I agree with John Stone that we should stop stereotyping fellow Westporters. Especially when we do not know all the facts… By the way, I love your horror films. Anything new in the pipeline?
      Lizzie Cohen

  11. Debra Sullivan

    Oh and by the way, nice photo of Tim with his head cut off. Is that an indication of how he is being treated by the “Club?” I bet he is wishing he was a horse right about now since I would bet anything they get better treatment.

    • For anyone else, referencing a head being cut off is just an expression. However coming from the writer of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3…it’s pretty funny!!! What a great movie. I loved it!
      L.C.

  12. Members might have the …. to stand up to the management, who work for the membership, and request they hire him back.

  13. Perhaps there is another side to this story? In June, I was a volunteer at the Ct Challenge (a bicycle ride held at the Hunt Club that supports cancer patients and survivors) and worked side by side with many Hunt Club members and staff. They were incredibly gracious and generous to the hundreds of participants, including the two 9 year old survivors who I was accompanying. One member even allowed these two children to sit on her horse and tour the facilities. It was a wonderful day.
    At lunch, I chatted with one of the Hunt Club employees, (a bartender I think), who was a cancer survivor, and I asked him about the renovation and how it might affect him. He told me that the membership had made a commitment to its employees and would not be making any changes during this period. I called a member last night, and they confirmed this.
    Now, I’m not a specialist in Employment law like Ms. Boyd (above), but I’m pretty certain that employers are limited as to what they can say about former employees. My guess is that the Hunt Club probably follows these rules, so the original blog cannot contain any information from them.
    Given this, I would suggest that the responders try to refrain from being so sarcastic and critical until all the facts are known (if ever). Why don’t we focus on finding Tim a job rather than stereotype fellow Westporters? I’m sure that Dan Woog would agree.
    John Stone

  14. Sarah Litterer

    The employment suggestions so far seem to be Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, is anyone aware of any restaurant opportunities more similar to Tim’s prior (and current at the Black Duck) work?