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In The Year 2525


As published by SHRM's We Know Next: See it here

In 1969, Zager and Evans sang “In the Year 2525.”  If you are smiling, you too probably have looked in a mirror and asked: how did that happen? Did you ever wonder what the employment world will look like in 2525?  Perhaps the following:

  • The NLRB will help unions which are failing to thrive by trying to make employers post union-marketing notices to drum up business for them.
  • The DOL will create a smart phone application to help employees track their time so that they can more easily sue their employers.
  • The EEOC will interpret the ADA so broadly that even shy bladder syndrome (the ability to “pee on cue”) may be a disability.  While I have no doubt that Shy Bladder Syndrome is a real syndrome, I also have no doubt that illegal drug users are likely to develop bashful bladders in need of assertiveness training.
  • California will pass 22 employment laws in one year.

Oh no, we don't have to wait until 2525.  All of the above have happened in the last year or so.
If this is where we are now, can it go any further in 2525?  Of course it can. Consider:

  • The Unconscious Dreaming Pay Protection Act. Why shouldn't the unconscious get paid for its hard work? And, should not there be a higher minimum wage since, as we all know, the unconscious does the heavy lifting?
  • The Social Media Right to Bash Your Employer Act. Why should employees be dependent on the NLRB for protection?  We need to create a private cause of action so employees can go right into federal court. Of course, it’s not about the money.  Just knowing you have hurt your employer’s brand, pushed away customers and put your colleagues’ jobs at risk if customers flee should be satisfaction enough.
  • The California Right to Choose Your Manager Act. Of course, the relationship will be at will so that employees can change managers at any time and for any or no reason and with or without prior notice.   And, there will be no exceptions to this at-will principle!
  • The Endangered Species Union Act.  All new hires must be given union authorization cards “for their consideration” when they are asked to complete their portion of the I-9.  After all, it is possible that they might miss whatever union notice the employer may be required to post.

As much as we try to do the right thing, not all employers do. Just as there are good and bad employees, there are good and bad employers. And, there is no question that we need the law to protect employees from wrongful conduct.
But overly aggressive plaintiffs’ lawyers and government agencies continue to push the boundaries of the law. And that does not always benefit employees.
As employers pay more to their lawyers, the reality is that there may be less money for their employees. Just as important: if everything is a legal issue, then we risk trivializing the important purposes underlying the laws. If everything is harassment, then nothing is harassment.
I hope we don’t have to wait until 2525 to find balance in protecting employees but without turning the workplace into what sometimes feels like a legal war zone. Moderation and balance are not inconsistent with protecting and enforcing employee rights. The extremes are, to me, extremely scary.
But, since we won’t be here in 2525, let’s continue the conversation at the Annual Conference. I will be speaking on the Year 2525 at Monday at 10:45 AM. I hope to see you there! Travel safely.

This blog should not be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to specific factual situations.

 

 

 
 
 
 

Widening Web of Social Media


I am pleased to post an article I wrote for HR Magazine on minimzing the risks and maximing the rewards of social media: http://www.weknownext.com/trends/widening-web-of-social-media

Thank you to SHRM's We Know Next for tweeting the article!

Jonathan

This blog should not be construed as legal advice, as pertaining to specific factual sitautions or as establishing an attorney-client relationship.

 
 
 
 

Guilty Without Bad Intent: The EEOC and Adverse Impact (June 18)


Register for webinar re-offered due to popular demand, here.

 

 
 
 
 

Where in the World Is Aaron Greenberg?


As Published by SHRM's We Know Next: find it here.

I was out of town, more than a thousand miles from my home town, Philadelphia, where I had lunch with some people I had never met. They could not have been nicer and we talked about many things including where we grew up and where we live now.  Being the worldly person I am, I mentioned that I live outside of Philadelphia, about 10 minutes from where I grew up.

Toward the end of the meal, one of my lunch mates asked me if I knew Aaron Greenberg in New York.   I didn’t, so I asked him why he thought I might. I did not want to jump to any conclusions.  He responded honestly:  I just assumed you would.

I told him that I appreciated his honesty, but that even though I am Jewish, I don’t know everyone who is Jewish.  But if he could help me find Aaron Greenberg, my card would be filled and I could get a prize. I explained, gently, that I was kidding, and that even though I love to use Yiddish, I don’t know everyone who is Jewish!

I told the story to an African American colleague who smiled and told me she has had similar experiences. People have asked her about people she would have no reason to know; only common denominator—race.  Gut in Himmel.  (God In Heaven).

We live in a world in which overt bias is less (although still existent).  But that does not mean that there is not bias. Bias is still alive and well, living in the unconscious.

Sometimes, it is tempting to strike back.  Get it. But  we need to try to educate individuals who may not realize the implications of what they are saying.

Consider the following:

  • You don’t sound black.
  • You don’t look Jewish.
  • You don’t act gay.

Scream internally but then ask calmly, "Help me understand:"
"What do black people sound like?"
"What do Jewish people look like?"
"What do gay people act like?"

More often than not, you will be pleasantly surprised with the response when the person realizes that what they said is based on a painful premise: you don’t look like the stereotype I held.

Of course, not always. I wear a replica of my grandmother’s chai (Hebrew for life) and someone once told me I do not look Jewish when they saw it.
When I asked what Jewish people look like, I was told not to be so sensitive.  With a smile, I explained the rule of holes. When you are in one, stop digging.

We all make mistakes. And others will make mistakes, too. As HR professionals, when we hear assumptions (euphemism for prejudging), we have an opportunity to educate. Not everything is disciplinary.

Zero tolerance for good faith mistakes can lead to zero tolerance.   So, if you can, assume good faith and help the person reach his/her higher self.

Of course, this does not apply to hate words and symbols, or the like. There, we don’t educate. We terminate.

As Matt Lauer travels the world,  I have asked him to help me find Aaron Greenberg. No luck, yet.

So, if you find Aaron, please let me know.  I want to complete my card already!

THIS BLOG SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE, PERTAINING TO SPECIFIC FACTUAL SITUATION OR ESTABLISHING AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

 
 
 
 
 

Jonathan Segal

Business Ally. Help clients achieve business goals and manage legal risks. Areas of focus include: gender equality; wage and hour compliance; social media; leadership training; union avoidance; performance management; and agreements

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.