Bloodline: We did a bad thing

December 11, 2015 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

“We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.” This is the tagline for the Netflix original thriller-drama Bloodline. If you haven’t seen it, run to add it to your watch list immediately. The show takes us into the lives of the Rayburn family, owners of a picturesque beachside hotel in the Florida Keys. Despite the gorgeous backdrop, this family is plagued by its dark and violent past. Pay attention to the opening sequence because a storm is certainly coming.  Woman Mugshot

When the oldest son, Danny, returns home after years away, the family reunion is anything but happy. Need proof? We know from the very start that Danny will end up dead by the hands of one (or more) of his siblings, but it will take the rest of the first season to unravel who kills him, how, and why.

During Danny’s descent into darkness (all he wanted to do was to give his toast at the anniversary party, right?), he and his family members commit any number of sins, many of which could destroy the family, not to mention the family business. To give but one example, Danny uses his criminal connections to threaten a witness and save one of his co-conspirators, Carlos, from some jail time after a fight. Danny ends up hiring Carlos to work at his family’s hotel, a cover for their actual moneymaking plan, despite (or, indeed, because of) Carlos’ criminal history and his recent run-in with the law.

This type of scenario is probably not what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had in mind when it released its enforcement guidance on the consideration of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Title VII prohibits employers from treating individuals differently based on those protected statuses, but it also prohibits employers from applying a facially neutral policy that has a disparate impact on individuals in a particular protected group.

The EEOC has warned that even when employers apply criminal record exclusions uniformly, the exclusions may still operate to disproportionately and unjustifiably exclude people of a particular race or national origin. In short, employers must show that such exclusions are job-related and consistent with business necessity. The EEOC has called for a fact-based analysis whereby employers should consider (1) the nature and gravity of the offense or conduct, (2) the time that has passed since the offense, conduct, and/or completion of the sentence, and (3) the nature of the job sought or held.

Danny, however, isn’t your typical employer. For his purposes, a criminal history is a virtue and an opportunity for exploitation. After all, how do you pay back your boss for having the prosecution’s star witness frightened out of testifying against you at your upcoming trial? Nothing good, I can tell you, but it certainly makes for an entertaining show. So tell us your thoughts in the comments section as well as your predictions for Season Two in the New Year.

Tricks and treats and trial briefs

October 26, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Remember NBC’s The Office? I think some lawyers used to blog about it. Anyhow, one of my favorite episodes was “Costume Contest” where the Scranton employees threw a Halloween party at the branch office. The costumes in the episode were mostly tame, ranging from Justin Bieber (Ryan) to Lady Gaga (Gabe). Late in the episode Angela dressed up as “sexy nurse.” The employment lawyer in me was not amused.  Devils Not in Disguise

Halloween is a few days away, and many employers will be holding costume-themed events. Unless HR steps in with some firm rules about costumes and conduct, some of those parties will invariably end up as reported Title VII cases. Consider just a few examples:

  • In a 2009 New York case, the plaintiff, dressed as a punk schoolgirl, was asked by her supervisor whether her fishnet stockings were waist-high or thigh-high;
  • In a 2009 Massachusetts case, photographic evidence of the provocative costumes the plaintiff wore to Halloween parties was offered by the defense in her sexual harassment case;
  • In a 2006 Louisiana case, the plaintiff dressed like a cat, prompting her manager to comment that he wanted “that p***y”;
  • In a 1995 Eighth Circuit decision, a white officer came to the party dressed in blackface, wearing overalls and a black curly wig, and carrying a watermelon.

Don’t let this be your workplace. Take steps before the party to diminish the risk of liability. Prohibit or limit alcohol. Do not allow provocative costumes. If the party takes place at the workplace, have it end at a reasonable hour. Remind employees about the company’s harassment and discrimination policies. Nothing is scarier than being sworn in for your deposition. Happy Halloween, everyone.

American Horror Story: Hotel—Gaga for this deliciously terrifying workplace

October 12, 2015 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

The latest installment of American Horror Story was off to a screaming start with the premiere of Hotel. If you missed it, proceed with caution as this article contains some minor spoilers on the first episode. This season is set in a sprawling art deco hotel that manages to be both beautiful and frightening at the same time, much like its penthouse occupant, The Countess (played by Lady Gaga). From vampires (large and small) devouring hotel guests to The Addiction Demon crawling out of mattresses with a drill bit dildo, working in this hotel is not for the faint of heart.  read more…

The Cardinal Way

September 29, 2015 - by: Matt Gilley 2 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

I’m a St. Louis Cardinal lifer so, for most Major League baseball fans out there, you probably assume I’m insufferable. (You may be right.) Still, don’t look for me to apologize that we’re in first place, have been for pretty much the entire season, and boast the best record in baseball. The postseason is upon us and, if all goes well tonight against Pittsburgh, we will wrap up another NL Central Division title and head into the postseason looking for yet another World Series championship. Yes, life is good.  Where the Cardinals play

One of the reasons so many fans find us insufferable is our talk of the “Cardinal Way.” Most people draw this link back to Branch Rickey, the pioneering baseball executive who first developed the Cardinals’ farm system before he went on to engineer Jackie Robinson’s entry into the Majors, thereby breaking down baseball’s color barrier.

Even if my Cardinals aren’t your cup of tea, bear with me for a bit because the franchise emphasizes several practices that offer some lessons for anyone managing a business that relies on contributions from everyone on the roster. Consider, if you will, the following:

  • Well Communicated Expectations:  Every player in the Cardinals’ system (down to the youngest player at the lowest level in the Minor Leagues) receives a manual of several dozen pages that details how the Cardinals go about playing the game. Every player in the system knows what the club expects of him on the field, off the field, and in the clubhouse. It is not a generic document, either, and management insists that players observe it. If you think about it, it’s not unlike an employee handbook, but I wager that the Cardinals put more effort than most of us into keeping their player manual up-to-date and in line with their real expectations. There’s a lesson to all of us when the time comes to review your manual–make it a living document central to running your business.
  • Habit: If you watch a Cardinal hit a home run, you will see the same thing nearly every time: The hitter rounds the bases, touches home, and heads to the dugout, and the players line up while the hitter goes down the line receiving congratulations from each and every player. The last guy in the dugout has a drink waiting for the hitter. It happens every time, with every player. In other words, the team makes sure they recognize accomplishments, and each member takes part in offering an “attaboy.”
  • Consistency in Management Ranks: Sure, there is some turnover; for instance, Jeff Luhnow left for the Astros and has built them into a contender (we won’t mention for now that the FBI is looking into whether some Cardinals’ personnel may have accessed the Astros’ computer systems).  Still, the general managers and ownership have been more stable than most over the years, allowing for consistent player development and assessment of personnel needs.
  • Succeeding Despite Roster Turnover: The first player to challenge baseball’s Reserve Clause 40 years ago was Curt Flood, a Cardinal outfielder. Flood lost his battle but the players won the war, ushering in the modern era of free agency. The Cardinals, however, have mostly avoided bloated free agent contracts and have been willing to lose players in free agency (e.g., Albert Pujols). The Cardinals usually don’t overpay for free agent talent (with some exceptions) and have preferred to restock their roster with players brought up through their farm system who have been steeped in the Cardinal Way for several years. In a similar sense, any business is bound to lose talent to other firms willing to pay a higher rate for their services–the question, however, is whether your business is developing new talent versed in your company’s culture and mission who can step forward when the time comes.

In all likelihood, no one reading this column runs a baseball team. You can, however, develop your organization’s culture, find people who honor the habits that keep it going, foster consistent management, and prepare your people to step forward despite inevitable turnover. It’s a model worth considering.

And one other thing–go Cards!

Ode to Letterman: EntertainHR’s own Top 10

June 06, 2015 - by: David Kim 0 COMMENTS
David Kim

David Letterman, a late-night staple for 33 years, aired his final episode on May 20, 2015. Whether you preferred Johnny, Leno, Conan, Kimmel, or Fallon, no one can deny Letterman’s impact on pop culture, and the fact remains that he retires as the longest-serving late-night talk show host in American television history. While there were certainly some missteps along the way (the “Oprah…Uma” Academy Awards debacle undoubtedly qualifies), Letterman’s comedic and late-night chops cannot be denied. CBS Late night show entrance sign

As Letterman’s career winds down, our EntertainHR blog approaches just its one-year anniversary next month (after many years of chronicling the TV show The Office in Ford Harrison’s earlier blog “That’s What She Said”). Therefore, in homage to Letterman, and in the vein of shameless self-promotion, we contributors to EntertainHR have decided to regale our readers with a top 10 list.

Following are the top 10 EntertainHR posts of the past year in terms of viewership. If you haven’t had a chance to read them, just click away below.

Drumroll please….

10. “Pay the lady.” The glitz, the glamor, the Oscars! That, plus a public outcry for a very important issue, wage equality for women. Who said acceptance speeches are boring?

9. “We fixed the glitch.” Because never having seen the movie Office Space is downright un-American. And because not confronting your problem employees can lead to a Milton Waddams-type burning down the building and retiring to the islands with the company’s money. Feel free to check out EntertainHR’s companion piece “I believe you have my stapler,” written by yours truly. Although not in the top 10, I’m including it because frankly I’m writing this post and can do what I want.

8. “Marky Mark and the Convicted Bunch.” The use of an employee’s criminal history in employment decisions is a hot issue at the moment, and jamming out to Good Vibrations by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch will never get old. So long as you’re bringing forth the rhythm and the rhyme.

7. “Seahawks’ Lynch follows NFL policy, adds to absurdity of Super Bowl media day.” After the year the NFL had, isn’t anything about the league and its bungling of its own policies or procedures a must read at this point?

6. “A word for the EEOC from Bob Kazamakis*.” Because employers love to read about a U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) loses. And because we’re all wondering the same thing, who the heck is Bob Kazamakis?

5. “Blacklisting.” It’s interesting to create (nondiscriminatory) typecast descriptions for certain categories of employees. It’s more revealing (or disturbing) that these generalities can oftentimes turn out to be true. Plus, I hear a lot of people watch The Blacklist.

4. “BFOQ FTW.” OMG. This post on BFOQ had me LMAO and ROFL. Employers, CYA and make sure you have valid defenses, and then IMHO you will have NP. TTYL.

3. “Workaholics: Drug testing.” Take a funny show that revolves around three mischievous college dropouts working at a telemarketing company, sprinkle in illicit drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace, and bam–you’ve got #3 with a bullet.

2. “I’m Ron ******* Swanson.” Nothing says read me more than “*******” in the title. Even if I wasn’t a huge Parks and Recreation, and Ron Swanson fan, I’d be intrigued. So should you.

1. “It’s never easy, but Oprah delivers layoff news in person.” How to conduct a reduction in force to ensure compliance with applicable law is important to every employer. But let’s be honest. Oprah + massive layoffs = surefire number 1. To quote Ron Burgundy, “it’s science.”

Dirty Dancing: hot summer hiring considerations

Kristin Starnes Gray

With summer quickly approaching, it’s time to pull out those warm-weather clothes and dust off my copy of Dirty Dancing, one of my favorite summer films. Who can forget the summer of 1963 when Baby performed her triumphant lift, Johnny taught us about standing up for others no matter what it costs us, and we all learned that no one puts Baby in the corner. Like many resorts and other types of employers, the fictional Kellerman’s resort in the Catskills Mountains (actually filmed in North Carolina and Virginia) has a very clear peak season in the warmer months with the hiring of a lot of additional employees, including high school and college students seeking summer employment.  Of course, any time an employer hires minors, there are special considerations and it is important to be familiar with applicable federal and state law. iStock_000057051752_Full

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law governing child labor, but it must be read together with state laws (which may be more stringent and must be observed). These laws were designed to protect the educational opportunities of minors and prohibit their employment in hazardous jobs and under conditions detrimental to their health and well-being. To this end, the FLSA and state laws limit the types of jobs minors may hold as well as the hours they may work.

The good news for employers and those industrious teenagers out there is that the restrictions on work hours are typically relaxed somewhat during the summer months when school is not in session. For example, under the FLSA, 14- and 15-year-olds generally may work only between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., except from June 1 to Labor Day, when work until 9:00 p.m. is permitted. Also, those same teens may work a maximum of only 18 hours in a school week, but they may work a maximum of 40 hours in a non-school week, and there are daily maximums as well (e.g., three hours on school days versus eight hours on non-school days).

As mentioned above, hours of work aren’t the only restrictions under state and federal law for minors. There are also restrictions on the type of work permitted. For example, a 15-year-old may work as a lifeguard at a swimming pool or water amusement park under certain conditions. No one under age 16, however, may work as a dispatcher on elevated water slides or as a lifeguard at a natural environment swimming facility (e.g., lakes, rivers, oceans, beaches, etc.). In short, Kellerman’s management better make sure that the lifeguard assigned to that now famous lake is age 16 or older.

The bottom line for employers taking on teenage employees is to brush up on federal/state requirements and keep in mind that child labor restrictions may vary with the employee’s age, the type of job, and even the time of year. For those teens eager for summer employment, I suggest you start submitting those applications immediately. As for me, I am off to find some popcorn and savor that moment when Robbie’s true colors are revealed and his medical school tuition check gets ripped to shreds. Hooray for Dr. Houseman!

A Word for the EEOC from Bob Kazamakis*

May 04, 2015 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Do I look like someone who would waste my own time?

Robert California, The Office

This post takes us back to “That’s What She Said,” Ford Harrison’s earlier and excellent chronicle of The Office. After Michael Scott’s departure for marital bliss with zany HR manager Holly Flax, Dunder Mifflin floundered about in search for a new captain. For one season, that captain was Robert California, played by James Spader. California was a weirdo – a bottomless pit of self confidence, obsessed with sex, enigmatic, and prone to opaque monologues and odd rhetorical questions like the one above. United States Supreme Court

That quote popped to mind last week when I saw that the Supreme Court had decided Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC. Mach Mining began like most EEOC charges. A female applicant filed a charge with the EEOC claiming that the company, a coal miner (not the kind of business that gets much federal agency love these days, anyway) failed to hire her because she was female. The EEOC investigated and found cause regarding the claimant and a class of similarly situated female applicants. Like other cases involving a cause finding, the EEOC sent Mach a letter to inform the company of the decision and invited it to participate in the EEOC’s informal conciliation process (many of you have likely been through similar situations). So far, so good.

That’s when problems started; or, better said, that’s when absolutely nothing started. The Supreme Court couldn’t find anything in the record to show that anything happened for about the next year. About a year later, after no activity on the file, the EEOC sent Mach another letter, declared the conciliation efforts (which, so far as the record indicated, consisted at that point of one year-old letter) to be a failure, and sued.

Mach argued that the EEOC did not conciliate in good faith before suing. For its part, the EEOC said its conciliation efforts aren’t subject to judicial review. The unanimous Supreme Court disagreed and basically said, “I don’t think so, Scooter.” According to Justice Kagan, “Congress has not left everything to the [EEOC],” and the agency may not create a fast lane to a lawsuit by inviting conciliation, rubber-stamping them a failure, and then suing.

Instead, the EEOC must follow Title VII. It has to “communicate in some way” with the employer about the alleged unlawful employment practice. It actually has to make some effort to “engage the employer in some form of discussion” to correct the alleged problem. It also must prepare to prove these steps to a court (albeit in a “barebones review” that will usually be satisfied with an affidavit from the EEOC). Back to our original quote, the EEOC must emulate Robert California and not waste its own time (or yours or a court’s for that matter).

What should you expect from this opinion? Well, one thing doesn’t change–if you receive an EEOC cause finding and the agency attempts to contact you to conciliate, you need to respond. If you don’t already have counsel engaged, that is the time to hustle and get counsel involved. After Mach Mining, however, you may see much more in writing from the EEOC during the conciliation process so they don’t risk another unanimous Supreme Court less than amused over the prospect of wasting its own time.

* If Robert California weren’t strange enough, he revealed in his last episode that Bob Kazamakis may be his real name. Can’t say I blame him for the pseudonym if that is the case.

The return of the quarterback evangelist

April 21, 2015 - by: Andy Tanick 4 COMMENTS
Andy Tanick

With the NBA and the NHL heading into the playoffs and Major League Baseball’s 2015 season underway, one might think that the NFL would have a hard time breaking onto page 1 of the sports section these days. (For younger readers, that was a reference to something we used to call a “newspaper.”) Not so! Football fans in Philadelphia and the rest of the country were either thrilled or chagrined – because with this guy, there is no middle ground – to hear the news this week that the Eagles had signed quarterback Tim Tebow to a one-year contract. iStock_000004238126_Large

Tebow became a national hero in 2007 as the first college sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, and he followed that feat by leading his Florida Gators to the BCS National Championship in 2008. His college success briefly translated to a modicum of NFL success with the Denver Broncos, but his style of play (and some would say, lack of skill) soon proved incompatible with the pros and he was released by the New England Patriots in 2013.

While Tebow became famous for his football exploits, he also received considerable media attention for his public displays of his Christian faith, both on the field and off. While still in college, his penchant for inscribing Bible verses in his “eye black” prompted the NCAA to enact the “Tebow Rule” prohibiting such displays. In the NFL, he popularized the act of “Tebowing” – kneeling on one knee in prayer, head bowed and arm resting on the other knee, which he often did on the football field. His public displays of religion made him very popular among fans and others who appreciated his willingness to use his public platform to “spread the word,” but led many others to criticize him for what they viewed as his over-the-top and self-aggrandizing mix of football with religion.

The fact that Tebow’s overt religious displays rankled some of his teammates and many football fans put his teams and the NFL in a position that many lower-profile employers often find themselves in: where to draw the line with employees who create disruption by bringing their religious beliefs and practices to the workplace. While the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case and new state laws in Indiana and Arkansas have brought considerable recent attention to the issue of an employer’s right to bring “its” religion to the workplace, most employers are far more likely to deal with the issue of employees who, like Tim Tebow, want to bring their religion into the workplace.

Employers have a duty under Title VII and many state laws to provide reasonable accommodations to their employees’ religious beliefs, just as they must reasonably accommodate employees’ disabilities, as long as doing so does not create an undue hardship. Courts addressing the issue have held that irritating and inconveniencing co-workers does not make an accommodation unreasonable or create an undue hardship, but that at some point, the disruption to co-workers can become insurmountable and the employer is relieved of its obligation to accommodate.

In one well-known case, an office employee felt that her religious beliefs required her to wear a button at all times that depicted a graphic image of a fetus along with an anti-abortion message. The button was so distracting to the employee’s co-workers that it caused a 40% drop in productivity, led workers to threaten to walk off the job, and even resulted in two co-workers filing grievances with their union, claiming a hostile work environment. The employer attempted to accommodate the employee, while still respecting her co-workers’ concerns, by offering her several options, including wearing the button only in her own cubicle, covering the button while at work, or wearing a button with a similar message but no graphic picture. The employee refused, stating that these options would violate her promise to be a “living witness,” and eventually, she was discharged. In her ensuing lawsuit alleging religious discrimination, the court ruled in favor of the employer, holding that because of the employee’s unwillingness to compromise, accommodating her beliefs would have created an undue hardship for the company. As the court noted, “Title VII does not require an employer to allow an employee to impose his religious views on others.”

In a similar case, an employee felt that her religion required her to write critical letters to her co-workers for engaging in conduct she found immoral, such as swearing or committing adultery. The employer terminated her employment because of the negativity and disruption the letters caused in the workplace. When the employee sued for religious discrimination, the court ruled against her, holding that her conduct was not the type that an employer could reasonably accommodate because, among other things, allowing it to continue could expose the employer to legal claims by the other employees.

Of course, these two cases represent somewhat extreme examples of employees disrupting the workplace with their religion-based conduct. As noted above, in many cases, an employee’s workplace religious practices merely cause inconvenience to co-workers (e.g., having to cover for an employee during his prayer time) or create relatively minor morale issues (e.g., making exceptions to the dress code). In these less egregious and more common cases, the courts have generally ruled that the necessary accommodations are reasonable and do not create an undue hardship on the employer.

So what should you do, as an employer, when one of your employees begins to etch Bible verses in her mascara or kneel in prayer at the water cooler, like the newest member of the Philadelphia Eagles? Like most employment issues, the answer depends on the specific facts of your situation, and reasonableness and accommodation are the key words. Religion and work can and usually do co-exist, and a skilled employer can usually quarterback her team to success on this issue, which some would note is more than we can say of Tim Tebow in his NFL career thus far.

Fire Harry Crane

April 16, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 2 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Mad Men can be tough to watch for an employment lawyer. I was thinking of this while watching the show’s most recent episode, “New Business.” In a particularly cringe-worthy scene, Harry Crane propositions Megan under the pretense that he can help get her acting career back on track. Harry is a buffoon and a jackass, and I wondered if he was exposing the firm to potential liability. iStock_000051863008_XXXLarge

There is precedent for the theory that an employee who harasses a third party can expose his employer to vicarious liability. Twenty-five years ago, a New York trial court  famously found that a model was sexually harassed by Penthouse Enterprises, which, among other things, required her to engage in sexual activities for the benefit of the company’s business. In that case the model was quasi-employed by Penthouse, but the court pointed out that the conduct constituted intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as sexual harassment.

Had Sterling Cooper learned of Crane’s quid pro quo proposition to Megan, it could have fired him and faced little risk of loss if Crane sued. In a 2003 Connecticut case, the court granted summary judgment to an employer who fired an IT employee it had loaned to another company after that company’s female employees complained the IT employee was harassing them.

Employers must understand that their employment-related liability can extend beyond their own workforce. An employee who harasses a third party is a problem, as is the situation when the employer fails to take reasonable steps to protect its employees from harassment by third parties. Turning back to Sterling Cooper, Peggy seemed unfazed by Pema’s advances. Unfortunately for employers, not all your employees can be Peggy.

Business lessons from WrestleMania 31

March 30, 2015 - by: Josh Sudbury 3 COMMENTS
Josh Sudbury

The biggest sports entertainment event of the year is in the books. Did you miss it? Nope, I’m not talking about the NCAA Tournament or even the Cricket World Cup—by the way, you can rest easy since Australia beat New Zealand by 7 wickets to capture its 5th Championship—I’m talking about WrestleMania 31. Yes, the penultimate event for the more-than-semi-scripted man drama took place on Sunday before a live audience of 76,976 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, and countless millions watching at home on pay-per-view. wrestlemania

WrestleMania didn’t just deliver at the box office. The event featured show-stopping action from big name headliners, both past and present. For those of you who missed all that glorious “wrastlin,’” I’ll give you the 30-second recap: The Big Show defeat 20-plus wrestlers to take home the trophy in the 2nd Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal; Triple H (who entered the ring dressed as the Terminator) defeated Sting after both “D-Generation X” and “nWo”—including The Real American himself, Hulk Hogan—intervened on behalf of both fighters; John Cena defeated Russian fighter “Rusev” (who entered the venue on nothing less than an actual TANK!) to win something called the “United States Championship belt”; Daniel Bryan climbed a ladder and out-head-butted Dolph Ziggler to grab the “Intercontinental” Championship belt; The Undertaker laid to rest Bray Wyatt with a move known as the “Tombstone Piledriver”; and, most importantly, Seth Rollins curb-stomped his way to the WWE World Heavyweight title, defeating Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. Oh yeah, and Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson called on Women’s UFC Champion Rhonda Rousey to clean up a little trash in the ring. Whew! I’m tired just describing it.

But what the public doesn’t see in this grand spectacle is the small army of attorneys, agents, and other business people it likely takes working behind the scenes to put an event like this together, both logistically and in terms of arranging appearance agreements for the special guests such as The Rock and, well, I will stick to calling her “Ms. Rousey” out of both respect and fear. The business of the WWE is entertainment—in massive, action-packed doses. And there is no doubt it takes an equally large amount of planning and negotiations to make that happen.

Although your business may not be to the same scale, it is likely that it takes more than just flipping the lights on to turn a profit. Your employee relations are no different. Successful employee relations takes planning.

Do you have an employee handbook? No—you should probably get one. Woooooooh!

Got a handbook? Good—when was the last time it was updated? Never? Uh-oh. If your handbook’s last revisions bear the same date as Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake’s last title bout, you’ve probably missed some important changes in the law.

Handbook: check. Updated: check. OK, Mr. Wonderful, good job. But, to ensure you and your company are in the best position to prevent and/or defend against lawsuits by current and former employees, you should audit your operations, at least annually, to make sure your managers and supervisors are properly interpreting and applying these policies on a day-to-day basis. Forget this step and you could get “clotheslined” by a lawsuit.

Taking these few, simple steps can go a long waytoward helping your company prevent unnecessary litigation and ensure you retain the belt as the undefeated, heavyweight champion.

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