But sometimes, it’s good to keep people from doing what they want to do. Lott still encounters manager who are stunned when he tells them they have to pay overtime. “When did that come in?” they ask him. “1938,” he replies.
Lott, who counsels employers on lawsuit avoidance from www.Hunterlott.com, offered his suggestions at SHRM’s Annual Conference and Exposition, held recently in Atlanta Georgia.
Lott is fascinated by personal relationship policies. They typically read about like this, says Lott:
“Personal relationships in the workplace are strongly discouraged. A company employee who is involved in a personal relationship with another company
employee will not be permitted to work in the same department as, work directly for or supervise the employee with whom he or she is involved. For purposes of this policy, a personal relationship includes any romantic or intimate relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”
This is great, says Lott. Under this policy, best friends, partners, and ex-spouses can work for each other, but not current spouses. He recommends this more concise and permissive policy:
“Any relationship, on or off the job, that affects our ability to run our business, or your ability to do your job, may be grounds for disciplinary action.”
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Another way that managers say, “Please sue me,” is by ignoring employee complaints. In one recent case, Lott says, a physician’s assistant complained to management 18 times about harassment. She was called a “stupid chick” (she was a Yale graduate), was accused of having Al Qaeda connections, was slapped on the butt by a doctor who told her, “I’m horny.”
She sued after being fired, and was awarded a total of $168 million in damages.
In another recent case, a company’s management decided to get rid of some older workers. They decided that to avoid age discrimination lawsuits, they’d simply give the older workers the most physically demanding jobs so that they’d quit. And, unbelievably, says Lott, the emanagers apparently said to themselves, “Let’s e-mail each other about these plans.”
That one went for 18.3 million, Lott says.
What’s the best—and maybe only way to get your managers to stop saying, “Please sue me?” There’s only one way—regular training.
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