As noted in my last post, the Harris County Criminal Justice Center was shut closed on both Tuesday and today (Wednesday) of this week in the wake of heavy rains that hit late Monday night. As per usual, our beloved CJC building failed to withstand the devastating power of nature. The garage flooded. The elevators stopped running. The tunnels flooded. They were on reserve power.
Harris County employees were told not to come into work. They were then told that they had to take either Comp or Vacation time, instead.
For the lawyers in the building (whether they be prosecutors or public defenders), this wasn't really that big of an inconvenience. Most of them have plenty of comp time from the hours they work before eight, after five, or on the weekends. They could also probably get away with doing some trial prep at home or doing some field investigations, if they were feeling ambitious.
For support personnel, however, this wasn't really an option. Although investigators may earn some amount of comp time in the course of their job, more often than not, it isn't a large amount that accumulates. Administrative Assistants, however, are the ones who really get screwed. They work straight eight hour shifts and never earn comp time.
So, basically, Administrative Assistants have no choice but to take their vacation hours, or just go unpaid. This isn't a new thing. It happened when we were all ordered out of the building in the wake of Hurricane Ike. During that particular natural disaster, there was raw sewage backing up into the CJC and we were forbidden to be there.
But we still had to take vacation or comp time.
So, basically, Harris County builds a building that can't withstand a rainstorm and the employees are having to pay the price. In an ideal world, the geniuses that built that piece of crap building would have to reimburse the county for the cost of an employee's salary on the day said employee couldn't go into the building. Unfortunately, under county rules, shit runs downhill. The Powers that Be have the authority to ban employees from working, but they don't get held accountable for failing to provide a safe work environment for them. The employees have to give away their carefully accumulated (and usually already-planned-for) vacation time.
I can't imagine that ever working in the private sector.