Sexual Harassment

Off-Color Jokes Get Two People Fired


Off-Color Jokes Get Two People Fired

HR Law: Do you know what mistakes got these people fired?

A woman is attending a general session at a conference. The audience is predominantly male. The woman hears two men sitting behind her make jokes about “big dongles” and “forking the repo.” Woman snaps a photo of the two men with her smartphone camera, posts that picture on her Twitter account (approximately 14,000 followers), and says: “Not cool. Jokes about forking repos in a sexual way and ‘big’ dongles. Right behind me.”

Eventually, two people are fired by their employers. And one of them is probably not who you think.

In my April post titled: “Lessons About Forking and Big Dongle Jokes” I make some legal sense about this real-life situation that has caught the attention of employees, employers, hackers, and even Anonymous. You can also catch-up and read all my other posts about Social Media and Employment Law at Windmill Networking (Now MaximizeSocialBusiness.com).

How Naked Twister Can Affect Employment Claims


How Naked Twister Can Affect Employment Claims

Will your Facebook posts negate your employment claim?

Not too long ago, before social media, if people talked about playing naked twister, or going into hot tubs au naturel, they kept such discussions private and behind closed doors. Now, however, many of those same folks are comfortable posting about such activities on their (or their “friend’s”) Facebook wall. One woman in Tennessee did just that. Unfortunately, for her, she was also claiming that her workplace was a sexually hostile work environment.

In my post titled “Social Media and Employment Law: Naked Twister and Litigating Employment Claims” I detail more about this litigant’s claims, her Facebook posts, how the defendant (former employer) utilized such posts, and what the Judge decided at summary judgment. Let me know in the comments section how you would determine the case if you are on the jury (based on the limited facts), and whether you think discovery into such posts is reasonable/relevant, or should be off-limits.

Small Firm Advantages – A Slam Dunk!


Small Firm Advantages – A Slam Dunk!

Small firm advantages are numerous.

Recently, former VP/Global Head of Legal at eHarmony, Antone Johnson, tackled the question: “Why Are Lawyers So Expensive Even With The Excess Supply Of Lawyers?” Mr. Johnson’s focus was on why large law firms charge their very high rates. Significantly, and not surprisingly, top-notch work quality, dedication, and responsiveness (three important aspects of my practice) were not listed.

Classic lose-lose situation. Mr. Johnson dissected how most large law firms are obsessed with rankings, have huge overhead, and grapple with other aspects of the legal industry that cause their fees to skyrocket. He also reflected that many companies are “fed up with large firms’ endlessly escalating billing rates and cost insensitivity.” As he pointed out, the result is that the legal services industry now has overpriced lawyers sitting around doing nothing, and clients not getting served because they can’t afford those rates. Classic “lose-lose” situation.”

Obvious win-win or slam dunk. Importantly, Mr. Johnson acknowledged that there are alternatives. He noted that “many talented, experienced lawyers hav[e] left big firms [], and technology mak[es] it easier than ever to set up shop as a new solo practice or small firm…” Indeed, business models like mine provide a better alternative for clients who no longer want to (or can no longer afford to) pay large firms for everything except top-notch work quality, dedication, and responsiveness. Mr. Johnson calls such business models “such an obvious win-win — or slam dunk.”

  • If your company still depends on large law firms for employment/HR related issues, I personally invite you to discuss with me how large law firm “escapees,” like me, are able to provide top-notch service without worrying about firm overhead, rankings on the AmLaw100, or carrying the dead-weight of an under-performing practice area.
  • If your company still believes great lawyers are too expensive, and thus, unaffordable, I personally invite you discuss with me how I can help your company at rates much lower than you might think.

Whatever situation your company is in, do not overpay for, or put-off getting, the legal services your company needs. For example, there is usually no good reason to pay (or to delay in fear of) large firm rates to have your company’s Handbooks, policies and employment/severance/confidentiality agreements updated and compliant. Do not overpay for, or put-off, getting advice on tricky employment/HR issues, getting and keeping your company in compliance with wage and hour laws, dealing with social media in employment issues, and getting mandated training done for your employees. And certainly, do not overpay, or go unrepresented, when your company must defend against claims brought before administrative agencies and courts. Indeed, I will be the first one to tell you if your matter would be better served by having a large law firm on your side (perhaps, for example, in defending class actions).

Mr. Johnson’s article in Forbes can be found here.

 

Workplace Romances


Workplace Romances

What are your policies around workplace romances?

Valentine’s Day is a week away. Unfortunately, for employers and employees, workplace romances don’t always lead to chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne. Even when a workplace romance is consensual, employers and employees need to be careful in handling such relationships. Of course, when sexual harassment or other prohibited conduct occurs, employers in particular must act swiftly and appropriately.

In my article titled “Sex, Love and Payroll: Employers Face Tricky Issues With Workplace Romances,” I offer some food for thought and some practical steps employers and employees can take to deal with workplace romances. The article is published in the February 2012 edition of the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine, the official publication of the Contra Costa County Bar Association. I am not only proud to be able to contribute to the magazine, but also proud to have been asked to serve a three-year term on the Board of Directors.