Harrassment

Did You Hear What They Said?

Another update from the Jungle…..

Peter and Paula have worked together for years and are best friends at work. Their friendship grew during the tough years, like taking pay cuts during the recession and working past midnight on New Year’s Eve to salvage the contract with a major client.

They’ve got each other’s backs. Paula covered for Peter when his drinking temporarily got the better of him. Peter lied to their boss about Paula’s frequent absences when she was devastated by the death of her cat. Co-workers rely on them for everything from problem solving to boosting morale. But there is a downside to Peter and Paula’s morale-boosting.

They boost morale by joking and clowning around which makes everyone laugh until it all slides over the invisible line into bad taste. The jokes are sometimes risqué and occasionally sleazy. The raunchier comments are aimed at each other, which is why co-workers haven’t complained. If Peter and Paula aren’t offended by their trash talking, why should others take offense?

The truth is that some of the other women make off color comments too. A few enjoy mild flirtations with Peter without any intention of going beyond words. It’s all a way to relieve the tedium of the daily routine.

But workplaces are constantly evolving as new workers are hired. The new employees don’t understand what Peter and Paula have done for the company which allows them to be occasionally sleazy and off color. Diane and Jane agree that Paula is a cheap tramp who sets back women’s equality every time she speaks. They also agree that Peter is a jerk.

Inevitably, a complaint about sexual harassment slides onto the desk of Sue, the HR manager. She’s heard a spate of these complaints lately and is feeling a bit burned out on the topic. But she’s also been warning Peter and Paula for years that they are skating on thin ice as far as the company’s HR policies are concerned. Now that an official complaint has been filed, Sue calls Peter and Paula to her office.

What options does Sue have?

  1. She can slap the taste out the mouths of Peter and Paula for ignoring her previous verbal warnings.
  2. She can recommend that one of them be transferred to a different department even though that will reduce efficiency in their current department.
  3. She can tell Peter and Paula to save their trash talking for after hours.

Workplace expectations are evolving rapidly regarding sexual harassment and what will be tolerated. Employers should take sexual harassment complaints seriously but not over-react.

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.

Ebook Link

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

 

Visit our website!

Advertisements

Don’t Anyone Touch Anyone!

Another update from the Jungle…..

ABC Corp always seems to catch the latest trends late, thinks Karen. She’s the HR manager for her company and she’s watched for years as the news headlines play out at the office. Now she’s seeing an uptick in sexual harassment claims.

This morning before Karen could finish her first Diet Coke, Vanessa stopped by to complain that Hank had touched her inappropriately. Inappropriately how, asks Karen. Vanessa says that last week Hank patted her on the butt and since then he’s been looking at her in a suggestive way.

Karen sighs inwardly. Before the company switched to electronic records, Karen devoted a large, four-drawer file cabinet to Vanessa and Hank. Vanessa is always complaining about something. Hank has a reputation for saying things that others would leave unsaid often being a little too “friendly” with his hands.

Karen fortifies herself with a second Diet Coke and begins calling in Vanessa’s co-workers to find witnesses. Dorothy says she didn’t see any inappropriate touching but admits that she dislikes Vanessa and Hank and avoids them as if they have the plague. Amanda says that she dances a highland jig to stay out of range of Hank but generally considers him harmless.

Sue shrugs and says that Hank has patted her on the rear many times. When a project is successful, Hank often pats people on the back or the butt. She dismisses it because she thinks he’s just acting like the jock he was. When Sue tires of it, she kicks Hank in the shins, as she did with her older brothers when they were obnoxious. Dan and Joanne confirm Sue’s interpretation of Hank’s hands-on approach to thanking co-workers for a job well done.

Karen sighs deeply and reaches for another Diet Coke before she calls in Vanessa. She tells Vanessa that she believes Hank used poor judgment but it is unlikely that a claim of sexual harassment can be proved. She encourages Vanessa to tell Hank immediately to not touch her if he again pats her on the rear.

What other options does Karen have?

  1. She can institute a new HR policy that says no employee may touch another employee during business hours.
  2. She can encourage Vanessa to join a nudist colony to overcome her sensitivity about the human body.
  3. She can advise Hank to be less “friendly” since not everyone finds his behavior innocuous.

Context is so important. What one person may find offensive another may not. It’s important to take sexual harassment complaints seriously but to not over-react.

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.

Ebook Link

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit our website!

3 Revisions For Your Sexual Harassment Policy

Another update from the Jungle…..

It’s amazing how quickly our social expectations are evolving on the topic of sexual harassment. Not so long ago, off color comments, body groping and other objectionable behavior was tolerated, particularly when committed by powerful people. All that is changing and employers need to adapt. Here are three suggested revisions for employers reviewing their sexual harassment policy and training.

Managerial Support

Every employer I worked for insisted on annual sexual harassment training for the staff. But most managers never showed up for the training or left early. That’s unfortunate, since the most common form of sexual harassment is still male bosses harassing women subordinates.

But accusing the boss of inappropriate behavior is the fastest path to ruining a woman’s career. That’s why Harvey Weinstein wasn’t publicly accused of sexual harassment until after he lost his status as a Hollywood power broker. Employers can avoid a Weinstein moment by requiring managers to participate in training and to set the example on what behavior is acceptable.

Realistic Training

One employer I worked for used the same training video year after year until employees stood in front of the screen, miming the actors and repeating the dialogue. The scenarios were blindingly obvious, like the woman who gets fired after refusing to date her boss. Everyone got their ticket punched for the yearly training and no one learned anything.

Training materials must include realistic scenarios of everyday occurrences. Training must also acknowledge that deciding what is harassment can be subjective. I once worked with a man who always spoke in double entendres. Most the women in the office claimed that they were outraged, but they continued flirting with him. Was he harassing them or not? That’s a much more realistic scenario than the boss dating his secretary cliché.

Clear Complaint Process

Deciding whether to complain begins with actually reading the relevant section of the employee handbook. The relevant section is usually buried in a long paragraph at the end of the anti-harassment policy section of the handbook. It may not be clear whether the complaint process applies to other situations, including the separate sexual harassment policy.

Assuming the harassed employee decides to make a complaint, she (or he) will immediately have two fears. What if the process requires reporting to your supervisor and that’s the harasser? How does the person complaining avoid retaliation? To be effective, the complaint process should be easy to read, have alternative paths for reporting a complaint, and ensure confidentiality as much as possible.

Our society is evolving.  Employers need to move quickly to adapt.

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.

Ebook Link

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit our website!  

See, What Happened Was…

Another update from the Jungle….

Lexington & Concord is a professional firm that hires summer interns every year. El Cee, as it’s fondly known, has a reputation for training summer interns by making them work long hours with minimal feedback on their performance. Interns are happy to suffer knowing that if they survive, they will increase their chances of receiving a good job offer.

Kate, the HR manager, thinks the summer interns should be rewarded for their hard work. She convinces Charles, the senior partner, to have an end of summer party for the interns. Charles reluctantly agrees.

The party is held at the home of Rob, a senior partner in the firm who likes to brag about his possessions.  Unfortunately, Rob and his wife, Sally, choose this day to enact their version of the War of the Roses.

The guests arrive in time to watch Sally yanking off her wedding ring and hurling it into the shrubbery. The members of the firm are used to the Rob and Sally soap opera and swerve around the fight with the ease of practice, headed for the drinks by the pool.

Kate quickly steers the interns to the outdoor kitchen and pool area. After asking several partners to chaperon the interns, she dashes away to break up the hosts’ fight before the neighbors call the cops.  She finds Sally sobbing hysterically, but Rob has vanished.

When Kate returns to the pool, she spies Rob propped against the shoulder of a young intern. As she approaches, Kate hears him making suggestions to the young lady that freeze the marrow in her HR bones.  Before the intern can respond, Kate grabs Rob’s elbow to drag him away. Unfortunately, he staggers against Kate. They both topple into the pool.

Several people dive in to rescue them.  Kate clambers out of the pool and looks around in horror. Her summer party is turning into a Roman orgy with half-naked people frolicking at poolside.

Now it’s Monday morning and Kate is in Charles’ office trying to explain what happened at the party. What should she say?

  1. She can say she’s resigning to start a new career as an event planner.
  2. She can imply that it’s Charles’ fault for not attending and using the force of his disapproval to keep everyone in line.
  3. She can promise to never again share her ideas for boosting morale.

In the actual situation, the firm banned parties for summer interns. HR professionals can help their companies by setting clear guidelines on behavior at company sponsored events.

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.

Ebook Link

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit our website! 

I Thought We Were Friends

Another update from the Jungle….

Rebecca is a real pain. She seems nice when people first meet her. But her former boss once compared her to a cancerous cell or a virus, spreading evil in the company. Abby agrees.

Rebecca was the first person to befriend her when Abby began working for the company. Abby was so grateful that it was several months before she realized that every encounter with Rebecca left her deeply depressed, often on the verge of tears. Abby is self-conscious about her weight and a speech impediment that causes her to slur words like Sylvester the cat. Rebecca has a way of drawing attention to Abby’s most sensitive characteristics.

Rebecca once begged Abby to walk with her to the coffee shop because Rebecca said she didn’t want to go alone. While waiting on her latte, Rebecca picked up a muffin for her breakfast. Suddenly, she turned to Abby and said “Here, this is too fattening. You eat it. I’ll get myself a banana.” Abby was so shocked she couldn’t explain that she had already eaten breakfast at home. She felt humiliated because the barista overheard Rebecca’s comment.

Rebecca often imitates Abby’s speech impediment, especially if there’s an audience. Abby’s told Rebecca to stop it because it is not nice to mock people. Rebecca says she’s just “picking at” Abby and doesn’t mean any harm. Rebecca also accuses Abby of being too sensitive. It all leaves Abby feeling like every misunderstanding is her fault.

After one humiliating episode, Abby is discovered crying in the bathroom by Michelle, the HR rep. Michelle is exasperated with Abby’s lachrymose acceptance of Rebecca’s special brand of “friendship.” But now that she’s seen Abby crying, Michelle knows she needs to take action. She meets with Rebecca to remind her of the company’s anti-bullying policy. Now Rebecca runs around telling everyone that Abby can’t take a joke.

What should Michelle do next?

  1. She could tell Abby to stand up for herself and stop being a victim.
  2. She could ignore the situation and hope it fixes itself, probably when Abby quits.
  3. She could confer with Rebecca’s supervisor about the next step in progressive discipline.

Bullying is becoming more subtle in the form of micro-aggressions.  Deciding when behavior crosses the invisible line between teasing and aggression is difficult because it all depends on reasonableness. What would a reasonable person think or feel in a similar situation? There are no easy answers but HR can help set workplace expectations of what is acceptable.

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.

Ebook Link

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

 

Visit our website! 

Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Another update from the Jungle….

Danny is interviewing for a new job, and the question he dreads most has just been asked. Why did he leave his last job?  Danny stares at the in-house recruiter of his prospective employer and thinks back to his former job.

Danny is a young salesman, bright and energetic. He was hired straight out of college into his dream job. He thought his former boss, Sam, was his friend because they talked about sports when they weren’t talking about business.

They often hung out at a sports bar after work watching sports events.  They also called and texted each other about games they were watching during the weekend. Unfortunately, Danny hadn’t made the mental transition from college buddies to business colleagues.

He learned this hard lesson during March Madness.  Danny hosted a party for some of his college frat brothers. Since he was hosting his own party, he couldn’t attend Sam’s party for colleagues and clients.

As the game progressed, Danny called Sam to discuss the latest score and joke about some of the action. But Danny was drinking heavily and jokes that amuse frat brothers don’t necessarily amuse a boss, particularly a boss trying to entertain his own guests.  After the tenth call in as many minutes, Sam ordered Danny to not call him again. Danny laughed drunkenly and agreed. A few minutes later, he called Sam again. Sam hung up and turned off his phone.

The next day, Danny was met at the office by an HR rep who explained that getting drunk and making harassing phone calls to a boss was inappropriate. She informed Danny that he could resign and receive a severance package or he could be fired.  Danny chose the first option and returned home to nurse his hangover.

This sorry sequence of events flits through Danny’s mind as he stares at the in-house recruiter. What are Danny’s options?

  1. He can admit that he got drunk, showed poor judgment, and was invited to be successful elsewhere.
  2. He can trash his former employer as a rotten place to work.
  3. He can say that his former employer wasn’t a good “fit” or that he is looking for a new challenge.

In the actual situation, the young employee was given a few coaching tips during his exit interview, regarding appropriate behavior outside the office.  It’s always a good idea to add a segment in the on-boarding process to remind new hires that what they do on their own time can negatively affect their employment.

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.

Ebook Link

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit our website! 

The Knife in the Back

Another update from the Jungle…

pic-5Bryan is a serial entrepreneur. Every time he gets a new idea, he starts a new company to exploit the idea. He’s successful at starting businesses, but he’s lousy at running them.

Bryan doesn’t like getting bogged down in the details. So he relies on lieutenants to keep him informed of how things are going at each company. Unfortunately, Bryan doesn’t seem to have noticed that one of his trusted lieutenants is deadlier than a rattlesnake.

pic-1Susan learns this the hard way when she begins working at one of his companies. Her first day on the job, she’s introduced to Elaine who is so friendly and helpful that Susan is duped into thinking she’s nice. But Elaine is a snake in the grass.

pic-2Elaine is an intolerable busybody. She stands near the elevator to track the time each employee shows up for work. She wanders the hallways, keeping tabs on what others are doing and saying. Then she passes every tidbit of information along to Bryan with a special Elaine twist.

Susan learns the truth when Bryan stops by for a quarterly meeting with the company’s management team, of which Susan is a junior member. Bryan marches into the conference room and sits opposite Elaine who is taking notes on pic-4the decisions he makes.

Bryan begins the meeting by chewing out Laura for falling sales in the past quarter. Laura replies that it is impossible to boost sales when her team is starved for resources. She produces a stack of receipts showing that her team has to pic-3buy their own office supplies since Elaine locked up the supply closet and hid the key.

Bryan impatiently tells Laura to stop blaming others for her own failings as a manager. Then he turns on Bob, the CFO, who didn’t have the financial reports ready for Bryan. Bob scowls but says nothing.

pic-6Susan knows that Bob was late with the financial reports because Elaine delayed helping him while she worked on other lower priority assignments. Susan looks at Elaine expecting her to defend Bob. Elaine smirks and remains silent.

What are Susan’s options?

  1. She can point out that Elaine sabotaged Bob but doubts that Bryan will believe her.
  2. She can thank her lucky stars that Elaine isn’t gunning for her.
  3. She can use her accrued vacation to begin hunting for a new job, preferably one without another Elaine.

pic-7In the actual situation, the junior manager soon found herself on the backstabber’s hit list and left the company as soon as possible.

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.

Ebook Link

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit Our Website!

Looking for Love!

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed

  a womanscreen-shot-2016-09-16-at-2-08-32-pm named Trish was searching for true love. Like so many others, she found it at the office.  Her Prince Charming was John, Vin another division of the company.  John was also looking for true love having just wrapped up a nasty divorce with his former true love

unnamed-2Trish met John at the office Christmas Party and thought he was a jerk. She changed her mind at the summer picnic when she saw him playing with his kids and lobbing water balloons at other managers.  John looked like an Olympic athlete compared to some of the other managers.

So when John’s division needed a little extra help with a special project, Trish volunteered. By diligent effort, Trish made herself a star on John’s team and managed to catch his eye. A shared interest in the project led to a little flirting which led to long dinners and then to other extracurricular activities.

Alas, as with every fairy tale a curse fell upon the lovers.  John’s schedule kept him busy with out of town business trips and Trish began to feel neglected. John tired of her whining over the dinner wine about how his career meant more to him than she did, giving John nasty flashbacks to his ex-wife’s complaints.

unnamedAs in a fairytale, when a workplace romance fizzles people behave badly. John stopped responding to her emails and text messages. He also told Trish’s boss that Trish could never work in his division again because she was a lousy worker. Meanwhile, Trish’s performance nosedived as she realized her fairy tale was fizzling.

The final fizzle arrives when Trish hears through the grapevine that John is blacklisting her.  She’s convinced its retaliation for their affair. When her boss counsels her about her cratering performance, Trish remembers that he is John’s friend. Trish storms into Sue’s office to complain about sexual harassment and retaliation.

What options are available to Sue?

  1. She can slap the taste buds out of John’s mouth for being stupid since managers are expected to use their brains to make decisions at the office.
  2. She can recommend settling Trish’s claims to limit the damage caused by John’s violations of company policy.
  3. She can disguise the details and include them in her next popular bodice-ripper novel, which she hopes will earn her enough money to retire early.

unnamed-2In the actual situation, the manager was counseled for violating HR policies and wrecked his chances at a promotion.  The woman accepted a settlement of her claims and left the company still looking for true love.

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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us at: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook

 

It Rhymes With Witch

Another update from the Jungle….

Once upon a time in a town not so far away, there lived a nice woman named Alanis. She liked her job and was always willing to learn from more experienced co-workers. Her boss loved her too and wrote embarrassingly glowing performance reviews.

2But fairy tales aren’t the only places with evil beings. A wicked witch named Wanda also works in the office.  Wanda’s not qualified to do the job Alanis was hired for but that doesn’t stop her from trying to take over.  Wanda smiles in Alanis’ face even as she secretly sharpens her talons.

Wanda’s opportunity soon arrives.  At a staff meeting, their boss, Julia, announces that the company is rolling out a new service and asks Alanis to take the lead for their department. Wanda’s death-ray glare bores into Alanis’ skull across the conference room table. After the meeting, Wanda loudly announces in the break room that the new project is doomed because Alanis is unnamed (1)incompetent.

A week later, Alanis’ project notes mysteriously disappear from the system’s shared drive. Fortunately, she a printed copy first and is able to recreate her notes. She saves a copy of the new version on a thumb drive. Sure enough, the shared drive version disappears again.

At the next staff meeting, Julia asks why Alanis she doesn’t share information with the rest of the group. Alanis reports the mysterious deletions and asks that IT investigate the deletions. Julia looks at Wanda and then abruptly ends the meeting.

The next day, Julia calls Alanis to her office. Waiting in Julia’s office is Wanda. Julia says that she’s decided to appoint Wanda as co-chair of the project because it’s obviously too much for Alanis to do alone. Wanda smirks as she demands copies of all Alanis’ notes.

After that, Wanda changes the entire strategy so that their department misses deadlines set by Julia’s bosses. Wanda blames Alanis and complains about a lack of cooperation. Alanis is again called to Julia’s office where she is criticized for disloyalty and undermining the department. Julia says Alanis can resign or be fired.

What should Alanis do next?

  1. She can continue to protest her innocence knowing she won’t win since a weak manager is as dangerous as a witch.
  2. She can booby trap Wanda’s desk with eau de skunk.
  3. She can resign and consult a lawyer about suing for constructive termination.

In the actual situation, the targeted employee resigned. Any office can develop an infestation of wicked witches if management is weak.  Fumigate your workplace with effective HR policies.  3

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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us at: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Click here for a copy of my free Ebook

I’m Not Offensive… You’re Overreacting.

Another update from the Jungle…

Ted-1Ted runs a company that provides website and social media support for small businesses. Ted grew up in the advertising business when it looked a bit like “Mad Men” and some of his habits are outdated. His most annoying habit is using nicknames.

Employees recognize Ted’s professional skills and ability to get customers to sign on the dotted line. Nicknames are part of the package when working for Ted. After all, every workplace has annoyances.

One employee is Italian-American and was nicknamed Guido because he looks like an extra in the Godfather movies.  Another employee is Mario, short for Mario Andretti, because he’s gotten some speeding tickets.  Blondie is an attractive woman who was hired long ago and keeps everyone on task.

Then there’s Tom, the first person Ted hired when he started the business. Tom is the only employee called by his real name and he’s so valuable to the team that Ted made him a partner in the business. Ted calls him Uncle Tom.

Ted-2Recently, Ted agreed with his team that they needed to give back to the community by offering an internship to local college students.  Judy is the first intern they hire. She’s a marketing major with an endless curiosity about all aspects of the business and a willingness to learn.  Ted calls her the Elephant’s Child, after another inquisitive youngster. Judy isn’t familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So” stories and thinks Ted’s nickname is demeaning.

Two weeks into her internship, Judy hears Ted shout “Uncle Tom” and sees the only black employee heading for Ted’s office. She’s appalled. She tells Blondie that she can’t work for a racist like Ted and wants out of the internship immediately.

What should Blondie do next?

  1. She can tell Judy that real world workplaces don’t come with college “safe zones” to avoid offending people. Succeeding in business requires a thick skin.
  2. She can tell Judy that offensiveness is in the eye of the beholder and if Tom’s not protesting, then Judy shouldn’t either.
  3. She can tell Ted that he needs to join the 21st century and recognize that some of the things he learned “back in the day” are no longer acceptable.

The legal standard for deciding offensiveness is based on reasonableness. Would a reasonable person hearing a nickname, their own or a co-worker’s, be offended?  The answer depends on the specific situation. However, a nickname can be in poor taste even if it doesn’t rise to the level of violating any equal protection laws.

 

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.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Ebook Link: https://njshirk12.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/skh-employee-theft.pdf