Methinks thou doth protest too much! FYI, only ‘reasonable’ opposition is protected

October 24, 2017 0 COMMENTS

It seems that every day the news is full of stories about employees (whether they are NFL players or Hollywood starlets) protesting unfair treatment. Usually, when an employee complains about discrimination, harassment, equal pay, or other work-related topics, he or she is protected from discipline or termination because the conduct is considered “protected activity” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a myriad of other federal and state employment laws.  Hand holding protest sign

Under limited circumstances, however, an employee’s protests may cross the line from protected opposition to unprotected disruption. Specifically, an employee who engages in loud, unreasonable, and disruptive protests at work, even though the action is borne out of an attempt to protest alleged unfair treatment or discrimination, isn’t protected by Title VII. Rather, only reasonable opposition and reasonable protests are considered protected activity. read more…

White House gone wild!

June 07, 2017 1 COMMENTS

These days, just about anyone with an Internet connection and some time on their hands enjoys a wonder of the modern age: binge-watching. One of the first, and still one of my favorites, is Netflix’s House of Cards. No matter how over-the-top the plot twists become, no matter how difficult it is to follow the multilayered schemes and shifting alliances, I can’t quit the drama surrounding the Underwoods and their White House. (It also helps that I get an added bonus of local color, since Frank Underwood hails from Gaffney, South Carolina, next door to where I sit in Spartanburg. One early episode even featured the Gaffney Peachoid – look it up.) businessman and house of cards cartoon

Frank Underwood’s approach to personnel is … well, unsentimental and often brutal. We all know the rule of at-will employment: Both the employee and the employer may end their relationship at any time, with or without notice or reason. Congressman, Vice President, President, and [spoiler alert!] now Mr. Underwood seems bent on adding a little twist to the familiar rule: An employer may terminate an employee’s employment at any time by killing said employee, without notice and often without much reason. The recently released season five is no exception.

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Fox News & Bill O’Reilly—best practices for conducting internal workplace investigations

May 01, 2017 0 COMMENTS

Bill O’Reilly’s reign as a Fox News favorite came to an abrupt end amid a series of sexual harassment allegations against him. After the most recent allegations, Fox News hired large law firm Paul Weiss to conduct its internal investigation.    Employment Incident  Investigation Form

Workplace investigations are tough, and if your organization can’t afford (or simply does not want) to hire a legal giant to handle the internal investigation, there are some key steps to ensure the investigation is fair, impartial, and efficient.

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Coworkers Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani are dating! What could possibly go wrong?

November 09, 2015 2 COMMENTS

Last week, the Internet was abuzz with the news that Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, who work together as judges on The Voice, have begun dating. Workplace relationships, though fraught with hazard for HR professionals, are incredibly common, with 80 percent of employees reporting that they have been involved in, or have heard of, coworkers dating at their place of business. Of course, employee hookups can be distracting to their coworkers and cause a lot of talk around the proverbial watercooler.  More important to HR, the end of workplace relationships can result in sexual harassment claims if one party to the relationship decides to break things off while the jilted employee continues to express romantic feelings or lashes out in anger toward the ex.  Get Your Flirt On (or Not)

To avoid this drama, some employers enact anti-fraternization policies to prevent employees from dating one another altogether, while others adopt dating policies to ensure that cubicle-crossed lovers leave the PDA at home and remain professional and productive at work. The large majority of employers, however, recognize and accept that their employees may want to date one another, and simply rely on their sexual harassment policies to govern the parameters of employee relationships.

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Retaliation is Reality TV

September 08, 2013 0 COMMENTS

I think it’s safe to say that now, in 2013, we as a society are overrun by reality TV.

The Truman Show starring Jim Carey debuted in 1998. In case you have forgotten, that was the movie where the whole world watched one man’s every move on a daily basis, from brushing his teeth to mowing the lawn to sleeping. While it’s hard to imagine a creepier plot line for a show, that’s pretty much all that’s on TV nowadays. Well, that and . . . CSI [insert your city here]. YEEEEEEAAAAHHHHH! (We miss you, Horatio Caine.) 

So it should come as no surprise that the ubiquitous genre of reality TV lends itself to the occasional employment law lesson. And today’s lesson comes from that epic engineer of entertainment–A&E–and its hit show Storage Wars. The show follows professional buyers who purchase the contents of storage lockers based only on a five-minute inspection of what they can see from the door when it is open. The goal is to turn a profit on the merchandise. (And you thought your college degree meant something.)

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