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HARASSMENT

Stop a bully senior manager without losing your job

By Lynne Curry Question: I face a situation that has no easy answer and no good solution. As the newly hired human resources director, I supposedly enforce our organization’s code of conduct and oversee the human resource issues. I report to the report to the chief operating officer, a bully who runs roughshod over any employee unlucky enough to cross his path. If I keep my mouth shut, I turn a blind eye to what he’s doing, but he’s my boss and according to the five senior partners above him a “leader who gets results.” I read your book on bullies and you seemed to think bullies can change their ways. Can they, even when they’re on top of the organization pyramid? Answer: Bullies can change—though often they won’t. Bullies… . . . read more

OBSCENE & UNWELCOME

Watch for harassment by emoji in your office

By Lynne Curry “How much trouble are we in?” the office administrator asked. I looked at the sheaf of text and Slack messages, loaded with emojis, and stopped on one sent in early March that asked, “Good to know you’re almost done with the project and headed for the weekend. Do you garden?” flanked by an eggplant emoji. Other texts included peaches, dump trucks, sweat droplets, and smiley faces with tongues sticking out. “How did you get these?” I asked. “An employee resigned, refused to come in for an exit interview, and sent these in the mail.” “Did you notice the recipient of the gardening question responded, ‘stop, just stop!” “No, these were just informal texts going back and forth between coworkers and employees and their supervisor. I don’t use… . . . read more

HARASSMENT

Russian-American workplace discrimination: It’s a thing now

By Lynne Curry Question: Like many other employees that need highly skilled employees and want to diversify their labor pool, ours has hired several Russian emigrants. Other than coworkers complaining that these employees’ accents make understanding them difficult, we had no problems—until Russia invaded Ukraine. At first, nothing occurred that created worry. Many of our employees knew little about Ukraine and so peppered the emigrants with questions. But as the horror of what was happening in Ukraine continued, our employees grew angrier. Several employees asked their Russian-born coworkers how they could possibly “defend” what was going on. Things got worse when one of the emigrants defended Putin, calling him a strong leader. How much trouble do we get into if we fire this one employee? While she’s technically skilled, she’s… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Harassment continues in era of remote work

By Mike O’Brien  In the early days of the pandemic, there was speculation that workplace harassment would decrease when so many workers shifted to remote work. Some recent surveys indicate that hasn’t been the case, and that incidents of harassment have been increasing. Possible reasons for this spike include the stress of the pandemic, the fact that remote workers may lack the kind of personal connections with colleagues that might otherwise hinder poor behavior and a more casual approach to conversations due to working in a more relaxed environment. Zoom meetings have also provided a whole new forum for trouble, with employees behaving badly (sometimes while thinking they are off-camera). The quick and unexpected shift to remote workforces may also have left many employers unprepared for the challenge. To combat… . . . read more

TOOL

Model Code of Conduct for Virtual Meetings

Far from eliminating workplace harassment, telecommuting has only caused it to morph into digital forms. As a result, law offices and other employers need to tweak their harassment policies to deal with the new face of harassment. The virtual meeting, in particular, has become the digital age version of the holiday office party where employees feel emboldened to do and say things they wouldn’t dream of doing and saying to co-workers in-person. How do you crack down on this behavior? The starting point is to implement a Code of Conduct Virtual Meetings. Here’s a template you can adapt.

COMPLIANCE

How to give your analog workplace harassment policy a digital makeover

One of the only nice things about the pandemic is the relief it’s provided from workplace harassment. After all, employees are far less vulnerable to workplace harassment when they work from home. Right? Absolutely wrong!!! Since the pandemic began: More than 4 in 10 U.S. workers (41 percent) reported that they’ve been subjected to some form of digital harassment (Pew Research); Nearly half (45 percent) of women experiencing sexual harassment say it happened remotely (Rights of Women, UK and Wales (“ROW”)); 23 percent of women reporting that they’ve been harassed say the problem has actually gotten worse since they began working from home (ROW); and More than 7 in 10 (73 percent) of victims say they don’t think their employer is doing enough to protect them from remote harassment (ROW)…. . . . read more

HARASSMENT

How managers can help victims of revenge porn

By Lynne Curry When “Paula” broke up with “Rob,” he vowed she’d regret ending their relationship. She thought Rob meant she’d miss him. She didn’t realize he planned to destroy her reputation, nor that the drama would cost her a job and perhaps her career. Three days later Paula sat in shocked silence looking at nude photos where she lay asleep half on, half off a blanket laid on the grass. Her manager told her, “I’m sorry. These have spread like wildfire through the office. I don’t know that we can keep you. I can’t imagine you’ll want to stay.” Two months earlier, Rob had talked her into sex in his backyard, pointing out the tall fence shielded them from his neighbor’s windows. She had been uneasy but had gone… . . . read more

HUMAN RESOURCES

5 people problems and how to solve them

By Lynne Curry bio We can’t guess all the challenges facing us as office managers in this new year, but we can assume that we will be dealing with an old one: people and their personalities. Whether working together virtually or in-person, chances are good you will be dealing with people problems. Here are five common problems and strategies for dealing with them. Stopping a bully senior manager without losing your job Question: I face a situation that has no easy answer and no easy solution. As the office manager and human resources director, I supposedly enforce our corporation’s code of conduct and oversee the human resource issues. I report to the report to the chief operating officer, a bully who runs roughshod over any employee unlucky enough to cross… . . . read more

Quiz

Office’s duty to protect returning employees from COVID-19 discrimination and harassment

SITUATION Fully recovered from his bout with COVID-19, Max is thrilled and excited to return to his custodian job after 14 days of mandatory home isolation. But almost immediately, he senses that something is wrong. His co-workers shun him and leave the room the moment he enters. And, while hygiene and handwashing are de rigueur for all maintenance staff, Max alone is required douse his hands in germicide and don rubber gloves each time he touches a piece of equipment. Worse, his supervisor harasses him and calls him “virus boy.” After weeks of putting up with it, Max complains to office management. But his complaints fall on deaf ears and he continues to be ostracized and made to take extraordinary safety and hygiene measures not required of anybody else. So,… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE QUIZ

Can racial discrimination be proven with circumstantial evidence alone? 

SITUATION An equipment repair technician who also happens to be the office’s only African American employee endures racial abuse at the hands of his supervisor and co-workers. He complains to management and is warned to “stay in his lane.” Shortly thereafter, somebody leaves a noose on his desk. It’s the last straw. The technician claims he was subject to systemic racial discrimination and files an EEOC complaint. The office closes ranks and vehemently denies the charges and nobody is willing to testify on the technician’s behalf. Without witnesses to corroborate his story, the technician is left to rely on the following evidence: Pictures of the noose on his desk; His own testimony, which is credible and reliable; and The fact that the manager and supervisor’s denials lack credibility and consistency…. . . . read more


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