Why Do We Have Employment Laws?


employment-law

I found myself asking again why we have employment laws if following them is optional. Once again I have discovered a company that has decided that wage and hour laws among others are optional; and if you complain about it you will be terminated. The company gets away with breaking the law and there are no consequences for the law breaker.

If you are a Non-Exempt, hourly employee, California law is quite specific about meal breaks, and when you are unable to take that break the company owes the employee a meal penalty. If as a company you require employees to use a cell phone to communicate, and do not provide a company phone you are required to compensate a portion of the personal cell phone cost. If you require employees to use their personal car to transport products you compensate for mileage. And if you have employees out of the facility, but still conducting business, they remain on the time clock. You never have them clock out, so “in case they are in a car accident you don’t have to pay workers compensation.”

But in one Southern California business this is just the first few items on a very long list. But wait, I forgot to mention that this workplace is one of 15 owned as a franchise of a national chain. Although these issues are prohibited in the employee manual of the national chain, this franchise owner feels he doesn’t need to comply. In fact, he has taken the national chain’s employee manual, and removed the pages that he doesn’t want to comply with, and the remaining pages have become the only rules that need to be followed.

So when one of his managers decided to press the issues, they were warned that they would be fired. So this manager went to the national chain’s corporate human resources director and lodged a formal complaint. Two days later the manager is terminated by the franchise owner and there is nothing that can be done about it. The national chain’s HR is unable to do anything.

dollar signsSo I ask again, why do we have employment laws? We have them to force compliance of companies that fail to follow the laws all by themselves. This is also why employment law attorneys have such robust practices with multi-million dollar judgements.

This one franchise has over 150 employees, all hourly and all being treated against the will of the national chain, and the rule of law. Any attorney that wouldn’t launch multiple cases or a class action would be missing a very large payday. This particular chain has locations all across the country, and if they allow this one franchise owner to get away with this, then they are probably allowing it in all of their locations. In addition to lawsuits, which always catch the eye of the state and federal regulatory authorities, these same agencies will start their own investigations and levy mind blowing penalties to send a message.

Now once all this becomes news worthy, stock prices drop, and it is difficult to attract customers and new employees. Everything falls apart because a single franchise owner doesn’t feel he needs to follow the law.

Why do we have employment laws? Because they protect the employee from harm, and if they are followed, they protect the company too!

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Dealing With Evil Managers – Part 2


thLast week I discussed the differences between an incompetent manager and an evil manager. What I should have mentioned is the dynamic of a manager with evil motives and is totally incompetent. Yikes! These managers are the ultimate nightmare!

So this week I want to discuss how we should deal with evil managers.

If you like your company and the work you do, but your manager is the challenge, then leaving the company is probably not your first idea. If everything about your job is awful, then it probably is your best option to just find a better job. It is not worth the hassle to get away from a bad manager but still be in a company and career that doesn’t fit either.

If you have decided to stay and try to change your circumstances, then my advice is the same no matter which course of action you take next. Take detailed notes of every interaction with the evil manager. Keep printed copies of all performance records, memos, performance discussions between you and the evil one. Make a list of all people that could speak as a witness or have experienced the same evilness.   And keep this all at home!

Now while I opine often about incompetent human resources, the truth is they are not all incompetent. They may be superstars at your company, but chances are if they were this evil manager would have been gone without any help from you. Since you are now working with a weaker human resource function, your ability to get satisfaction or help at all is not assured. But hear me loud and clear, you must try and give them the ability to do their job. Sometimes evil managers exist simply because human resources have never been informed.

So let’s assume you went to human resources and nothing has changed. I dare say that “nothing” is not the right word after you have turned in an evil manager because retribution has no limits with an evil manager that feels they have been attacked. So be aware that there will be hell to pay for turning them into the authorities; especially if the authorities couldn’t change the situation.

Depending on the nature of the issues involving the evil manager, you may want to file reports with the Labor Board, or the EEOC. These agencies are overworked, and although will get to your complaint, it might be months before they look into it. This is why everyone should have the name of a local employment law attorney and a personal injury attorney that practices employment law injuries.

By definition, until you suffer a financial loss most employment law attorneys won’t have the ability to take your case. If wage and hour laws not enforced caused you to lose money, then you have a financial loss. But if your evil manager screamed and yelled at you, verbally filleted you to the point of tears, honestly there is very little you can do to get you out of your personal living hell.

While I have been in the training, learning and performance improvement industry for the past 26 years, I realized that learning and behavior changes often require different approaches for different learning styles. In my everyday life this means how the training should be delivered to get a behavior to develop or change. When dealing with evil managers, driven by evil motives, it doesn’t matter if they are incompetent. The first thing that needs to change is their spirit.

Since it is not practical to perform an exorcism on your evil manager, the next best thing begins with serious consequences from human resources that usually require termination. When you need an attorney, the problem is deeper than just the one evil manager, and so the entire organization must be penalized. Not only does the company need to terminate the employment of the evil one, they will need to take a financial hit to the bottom line that motivates changes so this never happens again.

In my younger days when I was confronted with an evil manager, I would often respond with the same level of emotion that was being dished out in my face. I never sought legal help and fought my own battles. Because I know HR laws inside and out, I can defend myself against evil people. As long as I fight fair and play by the rules I am protected. It is a fine line I never want to cross in doing battle with evil that I go as far as to join “the dark side” in my quest for winning right over wrong.

But while I like a challenge, when it comes to advising other people, I say keep good records and get outside help if necessary. Evil does exist, but it doesn’t need to win.