Sexual Harassment & Retaliation

One of the most important facets of a sexual harassment accusation is usually forgotten – the potential for retaliation.

Every employer should have a concrete non-harassment policy in their handbook, with a receipt page, as well as a grievance procedure. The standard non-harassment policy must ensure alleged victims will not be retaliated against in any way. Should an accusation take place, the employer must respond immediately with a thorough, and unbiased, investigation.

Even when all of these issues are done, the potential for retaliation is still there. I’ve dealt with this many times. Even when the employer does everything right, if retaliation can be proven, it can be quite costly in terms of legal fees and a potential buyout or judgement.

Here’s a case from Richardson, Texas where even the slightest thought of potential retaliation has put an employer (who did everything right) back in court.

Courtesy of Fisher & Phillips.

Surfing While On The Job

The proliferation of the internet in business is cause for concern for employers – although many will not address the issue until it’s out of hand.

Employers want and need their employees full attention during the workday, and if an employee is online shopping, or surfing, or doing anything unrelated to business, productivity drains. If other employees notice a ‘surfer’, then morale issues arise. Because what you allow, you encourage.

Without a written policy regarding internet usage in advance, it’s very difficult to enforce your desires as a manager.

A policy should be very simple – internet and e-mail are for business use only. And a business owner can be held responsible for the actions of their employees while using business-sponsored internet and e-mail (think sexual harassment, for example).

The major uses of internet at work are personal, not business. (The number one use of the internet at work? Looking for another job!)

Like all HR issues, the goal is to prevent issues from happening, and not waiting for the issue to get out of control.

Courtesy of the Cincinnati Post via Joyce M. Rosenberg of the Associated Press.

When Employees Blog

The proliferation of blogs invaded the workplace some time ago, but employers have been slow to put policies in place to mitigate what can (and cannot) be blogged.

Without written policies, employees can rightfully claim they were never told they can’t do anything.

Here’s a thoughtful article, from Fisher & Phillips, on steps to take when employees blog.

Get in front of this issue rather than suffering the consequences later.

California cracks down on exploitation of workers

Today’s Los Angeles Times reports on a crackdown by the California government on businesses that don’t pay minimum wage – or who classify people as ‘contractors’ who should properly be employees.

The program, led by Attorney General Jerry Brown, is called a ‘crackdown on the exploitation of workers’, but it’s really not new.

The state and federal governments are closely looking at all businesses who have Independent Contractors (1099’s), because many businesses use this classification to avoid payroll taxes, workers’ compensation, etc.

If you have 1099’s, make sure to review their status (this is a helpful IRS page). You don’t want to be on the wrong side of this issue.

Why Employees Quit

Do employees quit because of a bad relationship with their boss, or because they don’t like a company?

I’ve seen numerous columns and surveys that have conflicting answers, like this one in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Douglas Klein of Sirota Consulting contends it’s a company culture.

Others, like Wayne Hochwarter, a professor at Florida State University maintain it’s about the bad boss.

In reality, it’s a combination of both. Leaders must create a corporate culture where employees feel respected and empowered. But even with a positive culture, a bad relationship between employee and supervisor will cause the employee to leave, or sick another position in the company.

I always counseled the follow to employees who work for large companies: don’t transfer solely because you don’t like your boss, because supervisors tend to move around frequently, and you could end up working for him or her again.

What goes around, comes around.