HR Management & Compliance

Please Sue Me 2015

Consultant and trainer Hunter Lott, famous for his annual “Please Sue Me” presentations, delivered the 2015 version of his talk to attendees at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exposition, held recently in Las Vegas.

Some ‘Please Sue Me’ Cases

Lott ( began his Please Sue Me presentation as usual with a review of recent legal actions:

Patterson-UTI Drilling to Pay $14.5 Million to Settle Claims

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) lawsuit, since at least 2006, Patterson-UTI engaged in a nationwide pattern or practice of discrimination based on race and national origin on its drilling rigs, including assigning minorities to the lowest level jobs, failing to train and promote minorities, and disciplining and demoting minority employees disproportionately. Please sue me.

Want to learn how to best represent your company’s brand? Start on Wednesday, August 26, 2015, with a free interactive webcast, Employment Branding Today: Putting the Company’s Best Face Forward. Learn More

Benny Boyd Car Dealership to Pay $250,000 to Former Manager

The EEOC alleged that an employee’s supervisor subjected him to demeaning comments about his multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis, including asking him, “What’s wrong with you? Are you a cripple?” and telling him, “You are on your last quarter, buddy, since you have MS.” Please sue me.

Unit Drilling to Pay $400,000

According to EEOC’s suit, when women applied for jobs at Unit Drilling, they were told that the company did not hire women. Rejected female applicants testified that they were told by Unit employees that the company did not hire women because it only had “man camps,” that women were “too pretty,” and that their presence would “distract the men,” the EEOC said. Please sue me.

How People Make Decisions

The cases cited above indicate some poor decision making, says Lott. He cites a TED Talk by Columbia University Professor Sheena Iyengar, who studies how people choose. Iyengar says:

  • The average CEO handles 139 tasks per week.
  • 50% of decisions relating to those tasks took less than 9 minutes. What were they thinking? They weren’t, says Lott.
  • Only 12% of those decisions took more than 1 hour.

Test Your Decision Making

Lott offers a revealing test for managers:

A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

Many managers who try to answer quickly get this wrong.

The answer is five cents. (The ball costs five cents and the bat costs a dollar and five cents.) —Harvard Business Review (HBR) May 2015 pg. 61

The HBR article goes on to say that human beings have two modes of processing information and making decisions:

  • System 1 is automatic, instinctive, and emotional. This is where most managers operate, says Lott. ”This will be a good hire; I feel it in my gut.”
  • System 2 is slow, logical, and deliberate.

The nugget, Lott says, is to get your managers and CEOs to slow down.

Are you sure that you are doing everything you can to put out a quality, positive employee brand? Join us for a free interactive webcast, Employment Branding Today: Putting the Company’s Best Face Forward. Register Now

HR Decision Making

Lott offers his own prescription for making good decisions:

  • Think 60 Minutes, he says. Would you want this decision aired?

People under 40 probably don’t know 60 minutes, so for them Lott says:

  • Think TMZ (People over 40 don’t know TMZ.)

Precedent Can Be Dangerous

Take the recent case of an NFL football player allegedly engaging in domestic abuse. The team had a precedent for violation of its domestic abuse policy, and that was a two-game suspension. (It’s four games for drugs.) But the team didn’t look at the video. If they had seen it, they might have determined, “Precedent won’t work here.”

Tips for Hiring and Firing

HR hears, “We can’t find good people.” Ask managers, Why would an ‘A’ player come work for us?

As for firing, ask:

  • Do you have someone working for you whom you are not proud of?
  • Would you enthusiastically rehire all your direct reports?
  • If not, why not?
  • And, what are you doing about it?

In tomorrow’s Advisor, 8 policy tips from Lott, plus an introduction to a free interactive webcast, Employment Branding Today: Putting the Company’s Best Face Forward.


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