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Are You Kidding Me? Actually...NO!!

  • Author: Kathy Barany
    07/23/2015

    I often talk about how litigious a society we are, especially in the employment arena.  As you read this, keep in mind that the definition of “litigious” is “controversial”.  It doesn’t always apply to lawsuits in a court of law; it can apply to Human Rights and other Department of Labor cases, as well as internal investigations.

    Employees continue to look at employers as resources with deep pockets and think they are entitled to a piece of that action, or at least entitled to be as publicly critical as they want regarding their co-workers and employers.  Sadly, the latter part is especially true. 

    We all know how much employees use social media to share their views.  Here is what is happening now, and this is the part I am NOT kidding about.  Attorneys are using social media to seek out YOUR unhappy employees.  No lie.  They are combing social media sites like facebook, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn.  They are looking for disgruntled employees who, individually or as a class action, might be willing to file a lawsuit against their employer. 

    Turning disgruntled employees into happy employees is a project in itself and certainly can’t be covered in a simple article.  However, here are a few things you can do to help fend off and defend employee allegations: 

    • Take social media postings seriously.  Don’t discard them all together; remember; where there is smoke there could be fire.  Investigate.
    • Make sure you and your managers are aware of your obligations under federal and state law.  Get training.
    • When employees do come to you with complaints, investigate AND document.
    • Start from the beginning, in new employee orientation, share your culture and expectations for behavior with your employees. 
    • Don’t let your managers get away with bullying and use the excuse “they don’t mean anything by it” or worse yet “that’s just the way they are”.  Give them an attitude adjustment or show them the door.  Bullying might not be illegal, but it often leads to harassment and harassment is illegal. 

    Remember the Department of Labor is making it easier for employees to get educated as to their rights and file complaints.  If you doubt this, check this site out; it is just one of many like it:

    http://www.dol.gov/wecanhelp/howtofilecomplaint.htm  

    Entities that you wouldn’t think are getting involved in your business are getting involved in your business.  For example, we have the common misconception that the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) applies just to unions; wrong.  They get involved with everyone.  If you are not offended by bad language, check this out.  It might be from California, but the NLRB is federal, so affects businesses nationwide. 

    http://californiaemploymentlaw.foxrothschild.com/2015/04/articles/labor-law-2/nlrb-has-no-problem-with-employee-calling-boss-a-nasty-mf/

    The bottom line is that we need to pay attention.  To the law.  To behaviors.  To how we manage employees.  To what our employees say. To what we do about it. 

    Happy managing….