Dealing With Employees Who Threaten Lawsuits!

April 28, 2008

Nobody likes to be threatened!

There are those employees who love to threaten managers and supervisors that they will sue if they are given a written warning, suspension, or if they are terminated. Employees will also state such things as, “I will have to speak with (or show) my attorney the warning notice, before I can sign it.” Do you honestly believe these individuals have attorneys on retainer?? Sure, maybe, just maybe, one of them has a family member or a “friend of a friend” scenario.

The plain truth of the matter is whether they do or not, you should not be intimidated.  If they see that fear in your eyes they will be like sharks circling in the water. They cannot be the ones controlling your work environment. Make sure you are following company policies and are being consistent in how you administer disciplinary actions. Be fair and firm. If they have an issue, try to address it.

Now, if an employee is complaining about a violation of a workplace protection, you must look into it and document your findings. If the individual is correct, fix it. If they are not correct, explain why they are mistaken, and move on. Never take any retaliatory measures for the complaint. They have a right to complain, but not a right to threaten you. The next time you receive a threat regarding an attorney, reach into your pocket, hand the employee your business card, and tell them to have their attorney call you! See what their reaction is. If by chance one does call, simply thank them for calling, ask them if they have a pen handy, and give them my name and number! Bewteen the both  of us, we’ll get it worked out!

As a final note just remember never to take complaints personally! Leave the emotions out of it!



Calls Regarding Former Employees!!

April 22, 2008

Know who is calling in!!!

I recently received a call from a manager who was upset that an “Attorney” called him with respect to a former employee. The “Attorney” began the conversation by simply asking some questions regarding the manager’s name, and whether or not he was the manager who had supervised, and terminated, the former employee. After an affirmative response from the manger, the “Attorney” began asking further questions regarding the circumstances surrounding the former employee’s separation, and monies owed for unpaid vacation. 


As the manager began to answer, the person on the on the other end of the phone informed him, for the first time, that the call was being recorded! At that point the manager refused to answer any more questions. The caller, again, for the first time, asked whether or not the company was represented. The manager took the telephone number of the caller and then called for assistance. When I called the “Attorney” I blasted him for illegally recording the telephone call without prior permission. Furthermore, his lack of knowledge regarding employment law had me convinced that he was either an imposter or an idiot. I have not heard back from him since.



Child Labor Laws-Are You In Compliance?

April 14, 2008

Last week a client received a letter from a United States Department of Labor Investigator that she would be appearing at their workplace within a few days. She requested that certain information be available for her review. The amount of information, from a preparation standpoint, was somewhat overwhelming. I placed a phone call to the investigator, and was able to get a better picture as to why the infomation was requested, and what had prompted the the investigation.

It was explained to me that the investigators call, and visit, high schools, to review the work permits on file for the students who are seeking part-time employment. The investigators, upon reviewing the available information, then proceed to visit the employer’s workplace to ensure that the proper guidelines are being followed.

Don’t get caught off guard! Here are some basics.

Jobs Youths Can Perform:

13 & Younger-Babysit, deliver news papers, work as an actor/performer

14 & 15-Office work, grocery & retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters

16 & 17-Any job not declared hazardous (motor vehicles, forklifts,    roofing, excavation, working with saws,etc.)


All work must be performed between 7 am and 7 pm, except June 1through Labor Day when evening hours are extended to 9 pm. They can work up to 3 hours a day/18 hours in a school week, and up to 8 hours a day/40 hours in a non-school week.

You can find additional info at




Car Repairs-Employee Payroll Deductions

April 7, 2008

Dealerships, in general, have a policy whereby employees may have their cars repaired at the dealership with the understanding that the costs of the repairs may be deducted from their paychecks over a given period of time. The problem that arises is when an employee leaves the company prior to the entire cost of the repairs being deducted. Normally, the dealership will accelerate the remaining balance from the final check. This is a mistake. The Labor Board has consistently taken  the position that the remaining balance cannot be accelerated, even if it is in writing. They expect the employer to treat the employee as they would any other individual, or entity, that they have extended credit to. If the payroll deductions were weekly, as an example, you have to bill the employee weekly after they leave. If they fail to pay, your remedy is small claims court (yeah-right!). My advice is not to have the deductions longer than one or two payrolls if you have such a policy in place.

The Right To Privacy In The Workpklace

April 7, 2008

Do employees have a right to privacy in the workplace? We get calls weekly on this issue. Can an employer search employee lockers, desks, purses, or automobiles without their  permission? Can an employer listen in on telephone conversations without the employees knowledge? Does there have to be a stated policy for any of the above?