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Sheriff fed up with Bridgestone employees needing snow day notes

One of the largest tire manufacturers in the U.S. required its employees to solicit a note from law enforcement to prove roads were dangerous.
Sheriff fed up with Bridgestone employees needing snow day notes
Posted at 3:50 PM, Jan 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 17:50:09-05

Bridgestone, one of the largest tire manufacturers in the U.S., required its Tennessee employees to solicit a note from local law enforcement to prove roads were too dangerous in conditions like snow and ice, in order for them to be allowed to stay home without penalization.

The controversial policy had one local sheriff from Coffee County asking Bridgestone to stop. 

"I thought, well if you can't look out the window and see the roads are bad ... I couldn't wrap my hands around why we had to do all these individual letters," Coffee County Sheriff Chad Partin said to Scripps News Nashville.  

Partin added he had more pressing issues than excusing Bridgestone employees from work.

"I had multiple employees calling saying they needed a letter from the sheriff that the roads were bad," Partin explained. 

Frustrated, Partin wrote an open letter to the company and posted it on social media. The letter stated, in part, “Stop having your employees contact the Sheriff’s Department for a letter that said employee cannot make it to work ... Most of all, if your employee says they can’t get out of their driveway then believe them!"

He added that news reports on the treacherous driving conditions should be enough. 

"It's unbelievable when you get this snow and ice they want people to risk their lives," said John Wright, United Steelworkers (USW) 1055 president.

Wright said Bridgestone employees, like Victor Shute, are torn between keeping their jobs and risking the drive to work. 

"You didn't have the option of calling and saying I can't make it?" Scripps News Nashville asked. 

"I could have, but I would have been fired," responded Shute.

While he did end up making it to work, Shute was late, and with prior tardies, he decided to quit since he knew he'd ultimately be fired.

Bridgestone Corp America HQ provided the following statement to Scripps News Nashville:

“At Bridgestone Americas, the safety and well-being of our teammates, contractors and visitors is our most important value. Negotiated agreements have long been in place between Bridgestone and the United Steelworkers, which address the impacts of inclement weather and related attendance policies and processes at our Warren County Truck and Bus Radial Tire Plant. Due to hazardous road conditions across multiple counties for several days now, Bridgestone had already excused absences for those teammates who could not travel safely to work during the recent winter storm.”

This story was originally published by Nick Beres at Scripps News Nashville. 

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