Fairness Doesn’t Matter

Another update from the Jungle….

Alyssa is a lawyer in the corporate legal department of her employer. She was hired because of the scope of her experience. Or so she was told.  It doesn’t take Alyssa too long to figure out that her prior experience is irrelevant, even a handicap.

Alyssa is1 assigned to work with the HR department because the other lawyers don’t want to. She inherits a file cabinet full of pending EEOC discrimination claims.  Another giant file cabinet contains investigation notes of employee theft cases. Apparently anything not too big or nailed down tight is carried off by employees.  

Alyssa sees immediately that the employee problems arise from the attitude of the 4management team. Most of the senior managers are related to the owner and take their cue from him. He brags of paying rock bottom wages while simultaneously complaining that he’s stuck with stupid employees who lack initiative.

Alyssa’s prior experience with corporate risk programs leads her to believe that the company needs more insurance to cover employee problems. She recommends an increase in their employment practices liability insurance coverage.  That’s when Alyssa’s own employment problems begin.

3Alyssa receives an email from Tess, the company owner’s daughter and newest senior executive.  Tess is a wicked witch who bullies subordinates with obscenity-laced tirades and hates anyone she suspects is more knowledgeable than her. Now Tess insists that she will make the final call on the new insurance limits.

Alyssa gives Tess a summary of the current insurance coverage, the recommended new limits, and the renewal deadline. Tess repeatedly asks for new quotes while ignoring the insurance broker’s and Alyssa’s reminders of the deadline for binding new coverage. Hours before the old coverage 6expires, Tess finally agrees to the new coverage limits.

The next day, Tess accuses Alyssa of endangering the company’s insurance program by deliberately delaying information from the insurance broker.  When Alyssa points out that the insurance broker copied both of them on all emails, Tess launches into her usual obscenity-laden meltdown.

What should Alyssa do next?

  1. She can continue arguing with Tess that the accusations are unfair and unjust but will never win the argument.
  2. She can walk away from Tess and immediately make a complaint to the HR department about the bullying incident.   
  3. She can accept that she was never the right fit for the company and move on to a new employer.    

In the actual situation, the accused employee used her employment law knowledge to negotiate a severance package and moved on to a happier workplace.   

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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