Live long and diversify your workforce

March 02, 2015 - by: Andy Tanick 1 COMMENTS
Andy Tanick

The death of Leonard Nimoy this week brought back many memories of the actor’s classic portrayal of Mr. Spock in the original “Star Trek” television series and subsequent movies, as well as his talents as a photographer, writer, and lecturer.Man giving Vulcan salute

Spock, as personified by Nimoy, embodied many qualities that employers value in their workforce, such as intelligence, logic, and loyalty. But as I was lying awake at night desperately trying to think of some justification for paying tribute to Nimoy–who was, by all accounts, truly a kind, thoughtful, and intellectual man–in a blog about employment law, something else struck me: how “Star Trek” depicted the ultimate diverse workplace, decades before anyone was even talking about such things.

Other television shows in the 1960s were beginning to introduce racial diversity into their fictional workplaces, such as Linc Hayes in “Mod Squad” and Peggy Fair in “Mannix,” but Star Trek took the concept to a whole new level. The U.S.S. Enterprise’s crew included not only an African-American communications officer, an Asian helmsman, a Scottish chief engineer, and a Russian ensign, but also a first officer, Spock, who was not just from another nation, but from a different planet and indeed a different species altogether (well, half of him anyway). With apologies to those who believe men are from Mars and women are from Venus, this was the first truly interplanetary workforce.

While the other diverse members of the Enterprise crew did not (as far as I can recall) really act any differently from their American, Caucasian counterparts such as Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy, Spock was a different story. Being of two different worlds, Spock would occasionally let his human emotions show, but for the most part, he conducted himself in accordance with his Vulcan heritage: cold, unemotional, and of course, very logical. The ways in which his personality and conduct varied from his human counterparts often produced conflict on the Enterprise, as well as comic relief. But ultimately, the other crew members embraced Spock and appreciated the different viewpoint and perspective he brought to their traveling workplace.

Today’s diverse workplaces often deal with similar issues, as employees learn to live and work with co-workers from different cultures–albeit not different planets or, for the most part, species. We have learned, for example, that some employees may dress differently based on the customs of their ancestry. Or maybe that a particular female co-worker from a different background may not feel comfortable shaking hands with a male client. We know that during company events, the culinary offerings should include alternatives for those employees whose cultures do not eat beef or other types of foods. And of course, different cultural backgrounds often mean different religious backgrounds. Thus, we try not to make non-Christian employees feel excluded by having “Christmas” parties or scheduling events during those employees’ important religious holidays, and we accommodate employees’ beliefs by allowing days off for religious holidays, providing prayer breaks, broadening the dress code to allow for religion-based clothing preferences, etc.

Not being a “Trekkie” myself, I can’t identify any specific “Star Trek” episode where Captain Kirk had to pause in the mission of “going where no man [or woman] [or other gender] had gone before” to order a special vegetarian meal for Officer Spock, nor do I recall any instances when Kirk had to call time out from his inter-species romantic liaisons to cover for Spock while he had the day off from work for a Vulcan holiday. But hey, it could have happened. If the Starfleet’s Human–make that “Species”–Resources professionals were earning their keep, they would have made sure that the Crew Handbook addressed the need to accommodate the cultural and religious beliefs and practices of all employees–even the ill-fated, red-shirted, anonymous crew members who would accompany the show’s stars in landing expeditions. And if any members of Starfleet didn’t want to accommodate members of different species, I’d like to think that Mr. Spock would have told them that their opposition was “highly illogical.” After all, when it comes to adapting to changing workplace demographics, resistance is futile.

Pay the lady

February 24, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 2 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at this year’s Academy Awards, and people are still buzzing about her acceptance speech where she exclaimed: “It’s our time to have wageshutterstock_225011584 equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Arquette will be pleased to know that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) vigorously administers the Equal Pay Act, which guarantees equal pay for equal work. In fact, an EPA complainant doesn’t even have to file a charge with the EEOC and, unlike with Title VII or the Americans with Disabilities Act, can proceed straight to court with a lawsuit.

To prevail in an EPA lawsuit, an individual must demonstrate that her employer paid employees of the opposite sex different wages for equal work or for jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility or are performed under similar working conditions. The jobs at issue need not be identical, but substantially equal, which is determined on a case-by-case basis. If the plaintiff can make this showing, the burden shifts to the employer to prove that its pay is determined by: (1) a seniority system; (2) a merit system; (3) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (4) any other factor other than sex, e.g., education and experience.  Even if the employer establishes its defense, an EPA plaintiff can still try to put on evidence that the defense is a pretext for gender-based pay discrimination.

According to industry sources, for the period June 2013 to June 2014, the four highest-paid male actors raked in $35M-$52M while the four highest-paid actresses made $15M-$35M. Production companies probably have various rationales for paying their male talent more than their female talent. But maybe Arquette has a point because one strains to understand how Jennifer Lawrence–Oscar winner, three-time Oscar nominee, Katniss Everdeen–earns less than The Rock.

‘We fixed the glitch….’

January 26, 2015 - by: Matt Gilley 1 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

I’m confident in this prediction: If you’ve ever held an office job, you will love Office Space. (If you haven’t seen it, get it now.) Anyone can find something in the movie that resonates. Maybe you connect with the guy who can’t bring himself to do more than 15 minutes of real work a week. Maybe you’re the one locked in a daily standoff with the fax machine. Maybe you’re like everyone in the movie under the thumb of a monotonous, soul-crushing boss.    Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler

I’m a Milton Waddams guy. Now that’s not to say I’m a mumbly guy with no apparent skills or role and a creepy fascination with my stapler (others will be the judge of that), but I can’t get enough of the guy. Milt was useless. When you watch the movie, you can’t figure out why the company hired him in the first place or why it keeps him on the payroll. In fact, some consultants in the movie looked into Milt and discovered that he actually had been laid off years before. No one ever told Milt he’d been downsized, and a “glitch” in the payroll system kept cutting him a paycheck. Therefore, Milt continued to wander aimlessly and mumble, and the company continued to shuffle him around the office with the furniture.

Did the consultants break the news to ol’ Milt? Of course not. They “fixed the glitch,” cut off Milt’s paycheck, and sat back to let the problem take care of itself.

I won’t ask you to raise your hands but, if I did, I bet many (all?) of you out there have sat back at some point hoping a problem would fix itself. And really, who can blame you? Confronting problem employees is not fun. It’s a difficult and emotional discussion when you tell someone that their performance is not up to par or that the company no longer needs them. Few of us in our right mind really want to have a conversation like that with anyone. It exposes us to risk and is downright unpleasant.

Avoiding the pain, though, carries more risk and trades an unpleasant situation today for an unbearable one down the road. Other employees will notice that you’re not dealing with a low performer or a miscreant, and the corrosive effect of low expectations is sure to cause better employees to doubt why they need to bust their hump to do a good job. And what about the underperforming employee? How are you going to let him go now for poor performance that you’ve tolerated for years? Surely, in his mind, you must have had another, real reason for letting him go–and maybe it’s that suspicion that leads him to file a lawsuit.

So Milt isn’t just funny–he’s a reminder. He’s a reminder that you have to be on top of all your employees. He’s a reminder that you have to manage your employees with action, not omission. You have to take on unpleasant situations before they become unbearable. You have to discipline appropriately and timely. Finally, when the time comes to part ways, you have to make it happen yourself.

Spoiler alert: The consultants in Office Space were comically wrong. Fixing the glitch and hoping the problem will work itself out did not work for them and it won’t work for you. Remember what Milt did after his paychecks stopped without explanation and his boss took Milt’s beloved stapler?

He burned the place down.

And the Oscar goes to … tips for evaluating employee performance outside of Tinsel Town

January 20, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 1 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Awards season is upon us and soon all of Hollywood will gather to celebrate its most talented actors and actresses, as determined by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Who will win the Oscar? shutterstock_236123857

While this question is being volleyed about and fiercely debated among Internet pundits and armchair critics, the nominees themselves wait anxiously, knowing that receiving the coveted Academy Award would most likely translate into significant and tangible benefits for them in the form of professional prestige, better opportunities, and increased compensation. Adding to the suspense is the fact that the decision about who will receive an Oscar is left entirely to the arbitrary whims and subjective interpretations of the Academy’s members, with only the representations of a couple of accountants donned in Armani tuxedos to authenticate the legitimacy of the process.

As is the case with so many things, Hollywood should not be mistakened for the “real world.” In La-La land, subjectivity reigns supreme, but at your business, you shouldn’t leave the weighty decision of evaluating an employee’s job performance to your personal proclivities, political leanings, or emotions.

Just think, if employee performance evaluations were written like movie reviews, they might look something like this:

Brad Fitt’s performance of the company’s strategic initiatives was lackluster at best. Though boyishly handsome, Brad lacks definitive gravitas, and his on-the-job chemistry with his co-workers fell flat. He is easy to like, but even easier to forget — a middle management cliché who fails to inspire and prefers mediocrity over innovation. I give him 2 out of 5 stars.

Or perhaps …

Angelina Zolie delivered a powerhouse performance during the third quarter. Her gracious yet sure-handed direction and intense commitment to rolling out the new payroll system were gripping, a veritable depiction of leadership in action. Startlingly clever and self-aware, Angelina sizzled at the mid-year meeting and exuded a confidence unlike those of her peers. In a word, Angelina was triumphant. I give her 4.5 out of 5 stars.

While such imperceptible fluff may be standard fare for movie reviews, your employee performance evaluations should rely on more objective, identifiable criteria, lest your business land the starring role in an employment lawsuit–as the defendant!

Here are four tips for ensuring fair and effective employee performance evaluations:

1.  Create a list of the criteria or expectations you are looking for in a position, and specify in the evaluation how the employee met, exceeded, or failed to meet those expectations during the performance period.

2.  Focus on tangible results, not subjective perceptions about an employee’s performance. Sales figures, timeliness, or other objective measures are easier to explain and defend than personal opinions. Undoubtedly, the list of Oscar-winning movies would change dramatically if they were judged on box-office performance rather than critical acclaim. Transformers IV, anyone?

3.  In most cases, an employee’s performance should be evaluated on a cumulative basis, over a sufficient length of time. So don’t judge an employee’s performance based on a single project or over a short time period, unless the employee’s job description demands it. After all, would it be fair to gauge George Clooney’s acting talent based solely on his performance in The Facts of Life or Batman and Robin?

4.  Set aside a time to talk to employees about their evaluations and give them concrete suggestions for improving their performance. Snarky insults and petty comparisons to an employee’s more-celebrated peers may work in Tinsel Town, but you should opt for delivering constructive criticism that will give your employees a road map for success and allow them to retain their dignity.

Of course, it’s inevitable that a manager’s personal feelings and opinions will creep into an employee’s performance evaluation, but if your business relegates the use of subjective criteria to a supporting role and focuses on objective measures of performance, you will go a long way toward ensuring fairness, maintaining employee morale, and avoiding liability.

See you at the movies!

 

 

Now showing at a workplace near you

January 12, 2015 - by: Andy Tanick 0 COMMENTS
Andy Tanick

The air is bitterly cold, especially here in Minnesota. The kids are back in school, and the Christmas decorations have all been put away. For followers of pop culture, those signs can mean only one thing: Now you finally have time to see all those prestigious, blockbuster movies that came out in late 2014.shutterstock_141495676

Business owners and human resources professionals are especially fortunate this year, because so many of the top movies of 2014 had employment-related themes. What HR manager has never had to deal with the fallout from “Horrible Bosses,” after all? And what business hasn’t worried that at some point, “The Judge” could be deciding the outcome of a legal claim filed by a disgruntled former employee?

And those aren’t the only ones. While I may not have actually seen any of the following films, I’m quite sure I can tell, just from their titles, what they are about and how they relate to HR issues.

“The Interview,” for example. I was surprised that this movie caused such an international furor. What could be so controversial about a movie concerning the questions an employer can and cannot ask while meeting with a job applicant? Granted, it doesn’t exactly sound like a blockbuster, but then again, who ever imagined millions of people would line up this year to see a movie about LEGOs?

In another popular spellbinder, all the company’s managers are asking, “Where’s that new employee we hired for the steno pool?” (It’s a period piece.) Turns out she’s absent again, without calling in. Where did she go, and how many warnings will they give her before she’s fired? If these questions have you on the edge of your seat, run, don’t walk, to the nearest theater to see “Gone Girl.”

Then there’s the story of three plucky employees who taunt their HR Director, Jay, while they file a complaint over having to work a full eight-hour shift without a lunch break. Yes, it’s “The Hunger Games III: Mocking Jay.”  Poor Jay; they’re mocking him so much they had to split it into two movies.

We’ve all seen those Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges where every box is checked. You know: “My employer fired me because of my age, race, religion, sex, national origin, and disability. Also, it was retaliatory.” What exactly is this former employee’s legal theory? Well, they wrote a movie about it: the “Theory of Everything.”

Then there’s the flick about the director of research and development who jumped ship and went to work for the competition. Suddenly, the competition’s products looked, sounded, felt, tasted, and, yes, smelled just like the first company’s products. A lawsuit about trade-secret theft may not make for boffo box office, but it might stop that thieving employee from playing “The Imitation Game.”

So if “The Fury” of the short, cold days of winter has got you down, don’t try to escape by running “Into the Woods” or spending a “Night at the Museum.” Wouldn’t you rather relive your “Boyhood” and be a “Big Hero” by grabbing your friends “Selma” and “Annie” for a “Wild” night at the movies, as long as the theater’s projector is “Unbroken”?

Got a movie favorite of your own that sounds like it’s about HR issues? Tell us about it with a comment below. But be forewarned: Trying to come up with these bad movie puns can be “Hobbit”-forming.

The naked truth about nude celebrities in your workplace

November 17, 2014 - by: Andy Tanick 2 COMMENTS
Andy Tanick

Celebrities lately seem to be having a hard time keeping their clothes on.

Whether it’s one of the Kardashian sisters baring her bottom or Keira Knightley baring her bosom, you can hardly look at any social media site these days without being assaulted by celebrities in various degrees of naked-idity, as Radar O’Reilly once called it. While the exhibitionism has recently arisen mainly among the ranks of female celebrities, there has been no shortage of male body parts on display in recent years, what with NFL quarterbacks, New York politicians, and others seemingly unable to resist the urge to use their smart phones to do dumb things.  NSFW

All of which raises an interesting employment law issue: How does a company’s policy against sexual harassment deal with conversations that employees might have about current events, when those events can at times be sexually charged? If an employee forwards the Kardashian photo to a co-worker, is he violating the policy? What if he merely references the photo as further proof (as if we needed it) that nothing Kardashian-related has any redeeming social value? What if several coworkers engage in a spirited intellectual debate about the statement of female empowerment that Knightley claims she was making with her revealing photo?

As a side note, readers who are of a certain age may remember that a similar issue arose in the late 1990s, when a Wisconsin jury awarded $24 million to an employee who was fired for telling a female coworker about a “Seinfeld” episode with sexual overtones. While that case, contrary to its media portrayal, was not really about the right to discuss adult-themed sitcoms in the workplace, it didn’t matter in the end, because the verdict was thrown out on appeal.

Anyway, when does a discussion of current events turn into a violation of your sexual harassment policy? Like many other employment law issues, (1) it’s complicated, and (2) it really turns on common sense. An employee who forwards a nude celebrity photo to a coworker accompanied by a lewd comment does not somehow gain legal protection because the photo appeared in a classy magazine rather than Penthouse. By the same token, the employees having an intellectual discussion about Knightley’s political motivations are clearly not engaging in a communication of a “sexual nature,” even if the topic does involve a partially nude actress. In other words, just because a conversation relates to a subject that in certain contexts can be sexual (e.g., nudity), it’s not necessarily sexual in other contexts.

Similarly, there are words that can be sexual in some contexts, but not in others. One particular well-known and popular “swear word,” for example, clearly has a sexual connotation in some contexts, but at other times can simply mean “Go away, now!” or “What the … heck?” Not even the most creative plaintiff’s lawyer or aggressive EEOC investigator would likely claim that such utterances constitute sexual harassment, although to be sure, the use of such language in the workplace certainly might violate other company policies.

To put it even more simply, ask yourself, “Would I be embarrassed if my parents walked in on that?” A scholarly discussion of the nude body in late Renaissance art? Dad may find it awfully boring, but it’s probably not an example of sexual harassment. An employee displaying a life-sized poster of Will Ferrell streaking? You probably wouldn’t want Mom to see it, so that’s a good indication that it’s probably time to train your employees on that sexual harassment policy. Because really, the Kardashian sisters are distasteful enough already–why make it even worse by having them pop up as Exhibit A in a sexual harassment lawsuit you’re defending?

A scar is born

November 11, 2014 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

On The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon the other night, the host and Matthew McConaughey competed to see who could throw the most footballs at the other guy’s face. Not his physical face, of course, but glass plates printed with each guy’s face. Toward the end, McConaughey steps in front of Fallon as he is about to throw, and I immediately start thinking, “What if he hits the actor square in the nose with a football?”shutterstock_183450509

As an employment lawyer, I wasn’t so concerned about McConaughey’s career. Did you see him as modern day Rust Cohle? Dude can pull off ugly just fine. No, my concern was whether he could be compensated for his injuries. Would it be covered by workers’ comp?  Could he sue The Tonight Show or Fallon? Turns out, Hollywood has had to deal with these kinds of safety issues in the past. Here are two cases worth noting.

In 2002 an extra working on the remake of Planet of the Apes sued Fox Entertainment for injuries allegedly suffered by heavy dust that the filmmakers blew across the set during a battle scene. The general rule is that workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for on-the-job injuries. The extra argued that the producers knew the blowing dust was harmful and thus they committed an intentional tort, which is not barred by workers’ compensation exclusivity. A California appellate court rejected that argument. Plaintiffs often try to get around workers’ compensation by accusing employers of intentional torts and seeking emotional and punitive damages. In the California case, however, the court relied on the crucial difference between acts of gross negligence and actual intent to injure, finding the case fell into the former category.

In 2006 actress Tippi Hedren of Hitchcock fame was injured on the set of the television show Fashion House. She sued the building owner and management firm for her injuries, but curiously did not sue her agent for putting her on Fashion House. Her attorney filed a voluntary dismissal without prejudice before trial, but he neglected to include a provision that would toll the limitations period on her action. Big mistake. When he subsequently refiled the lawsuit, it was dismissed as time-barred. As a result, Hedren won a malpractice verdict against her attorney for more than $1.4 million, most of which compensated her for physical, emotional, and economic injuries as a result of the accident.

So in closing, don’t throw footballs at each other’s faces, and hire a decent lawyer.

Chim, chimney

Kristin Starnes Gray

If you are a Mary Poppins fan, as I am, you were probably as excited as I was to check out Saving Mr. Banks, which is based on Walt Disney’s long-time efforts to bring Mary Poppins to the big screen. As chronicled in the film, that proved to be quite the challenge given that the author, P.L. Travers, (after having Disney jump through hoops for 20 years to win the film rights) was prone to such ashutterstock_78489430ntics as insisting that Disney eliminate the color red from the film and avoid any type of animation. If you are paying close attention, you may also notice some interesting details in the film, including its subtle treatment of Disney’s smoking habit.

Disney, who ultimately succumbed to lung cancer complications, was a chain smoker for much, if not all, of his adult life. However, he was careful not to smoke around children, and there is a studio-wide ban on smoking in Disney films. In Saving Mr. Banks, you will see some hints to this habit in Tom Hanks’ portrayal of the animator and producer. More specifically, Hanks stubs out a cigarette in one scene and there are also references to Disney’s incessant cough.

With the growing number of areas banning smoking and the new trend with e-cigarettes, the film got me thinking about tobacco in the workplace. Depending on what state you live in, you may be surprised to learn that certain states provide specific protections for smokers and other tobacco users. For example, a South Carolina statute makes it unlawful to base personnel actions (including but not limited to terminations, demotions, etc.) on an employee’s use of tobacco products outside the workplace. Some states go even further and prohibit employers from basing personnel decisions on employees’ lawful nonworking activities–smoking, drinking alcohol, recreational activities, etc.

If you happen to be watching Saving Mr. Banks this weekend, take note of this little bit of film trivia. That’s not a frog caught in Hanks’ throat, but part of his efforts to portray the beloved animator more realistically.

Veronica Mars: Return to Neptune

April 04, 2014 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Thanks in large part to a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, legions of “Marshmallows” and I recently got to enjoy new adventures of Veronica Mars on the big screen. Although Veronica left the small screen back in 2007, that did not stop my favorite private detective from diving right back into action (and danger) in the film version. The premise of the film is that Veronica’s ex-boyfriend, Logan Echolls, is suspected yet again of murdering a girlfriend. Lucky for Logan, Veronica is willing to leave behind her life in New York (including a stable relationship with Piz and a high-powered legal career) to help, even when it means risking her own life. What else would you expect from someone who received a private investigator’s license for her 18th birthday?   KristenBell An interesting tidbit is that Kristen Bell, the actress who plays the titular character, had recently given birth at the time of filming. You would never know it watching Veronica hunt down the killer and narrowly avoid becoming a victim herself. This got me thinking about dangerous professions and pregnancy. Where would Logan (and all the devoted fans) be if a pregnant Veronica Mars was not permitted to do her job and catch the bad guy? According to the U.S. Supreme Court, employers may not lawfully deny jobs to women because of hazards to unborn children. Such decision have to be left to women. According to the Court, denying jobs to women due to hazards is biased because fertile men, but not fertile women, are given “a choice as to whether they wish to risk their reproductive health for a particular job.” Subsequent decisions have clarified that, although employers are generally prohibited from deciding for a pregnant employee what course of action is best for her, this prohibition does not constitute a requirement that an employer make alternate work available.  In other words, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) doesn’t require an employer to provide preferential treatment for a pregnant employee. For example, a hospital isn’t required to make an exception to its policy that nurses treat all patients assigned to them when a nurse refuses to treat a patient with a contagious disease based on her pregnancy. Other decisions, however, have gone on to say that the PDA doesn’t preclude policies that take into account the reality of pregnancy in assisting women in balancing the work and family conflict and that federal law doesn’t prevent an employer from temporarily transferring a pregnant woman, at her request, for the protection of her unborn child. As for Veronica, these aren’t issues she has to address at the moment, though they could make for some interesting plot lines in a sequel. In the meantime, are you Team Piz or Team Logan?

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

March 10, 2014 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Lately, have you felt feverish, light-headed, even giddy? Well then you must have Oscar fever. The stars! The gowns! The teeth! My god, those blinding white teeth! For you, March 2, 2014, was a night of luxury, glamour, and take-out noodles because NO WAY you were cooking for the family and risk missing J-Law stumble over something walking down the red carpet. Adorbs!

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So you probably didn’t notice that about two weeks earlier, some fellow named Andrew Greene filed a defamation lawsuit against Paramount Pictures in a New York federal court seeking more than $25 million in damages for his alleged depiction as Nicky “Rugrat” Koskoff in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” In the film the Koskoff character engages in sex, drugs, and other unsavory acts. Greene says the character is based on him and he wants Paramount to stop distribution of the film and pay him big bucks for the unfavorable portrayal.

Greene’s lawsuit, preposterous as it might be, reminds me that the unwary employer can walk into a costly defamation action by not appropriately handling an investigation or disciplinary action.  The key is maintaining control of the messaging among its management team.  Take the case of an employee who is terminated (or suspended, or investigated).  A coworkers asks his manager, “Hey, why did so-and-so get fired?”  The manager responds and describes why he thinks the employee was fired.  If that reason turns out to be inaccurate or just plain false, the manager has defamed the employee.  Worse, the company can be liable for the defamation under the theory of respondeat superior.  In one oft-cited Illinois case, an employee won a $1.2 million judgment against his ex-employer because a few supervisors told people that the employee was fired for selling company property.  That accusation against the ex-employee turned out to be false.

Employers must make sure that supervisors and managers understand how to discuss employee disciplines and investigations.  The general rule is less is more.  And if there are any questions, direct them to Human Resources.  HR has a huge role to play here because they often take the lead in these matters.  There is no shortage of allegations an ex-employee can make in a lawsuit against his former employer.  A management team that can’t stay on message about sensitive matters only adds to the list.

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