Recently in Hiring & Firing Category

April 11, 2014

A 79-year-old teacher was fired for refusing to unfriend her students on Facebook

Thumbnail image for facebookprivacy.jpgA teacher getting in trouble for something having to do with Facebook?

You don't say...

The full story, plus another state has passed a social media workplace privacy law. I've got it all for you after the jump...

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Continue reading "A 79-year-old teacher was fired for refusing to unfriend her students on Facebook" »

April 10, 2014

What's hot at the EEOC? Plus, a legal roadmap for managing the aging workforce.

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Whatcha doin' two weeks from today?

Want to grab some breakfast with me? Maybe hear about what's hot at the EEOC and get a legal roadmap for managing the aging workforce?

In you're in the Philadelphia area and would like to learn more about these topics, then come on down to our offices on Thursday, April 24 at 8:30 AM for a free presentation with a complimentary continental breakfast. Lawyers can get CLE. HR credits will also be offered.

The only bad news is that you'll have to hear me flap my gums for an hour about best practices to avoid becoming an EEOC target. And since I can't seem to blog my way out of a paper bag, you can imagine how (in)articulate I'll be. Fortunately, my co-presenter from the EEOC, Mary Tiernan, will rock thy world.

Plus, my Dilworth Paxson colleagues will school you on the legal issues of which you should be aware when dealing with your older employees.

If you are interested in attending, click here for more details and to RSVP.

Mention this blog and I'll get you an extra pat of butter to go with your continental breakfast.

After all, I take care of my VIPs.

March 19, 2014

That's what she said: How to navigate the pitfalls of the FCRA

whatshesaid.jpgWhen the Fair Credit Reporting Act comes a knock knock knockin' on HR's door, who among you, will answer the call?

Fear not, kids. Cinch on your big boy/girl underpants! My colleague, Stacey Schor, in this post, has outlined a recent federal court decision that provides valuable guidance on how employers can comply with the strict requirements of FCRA, so that your hiring decisions are FCRA-bulletproofed.

This one goes out to all out FCRA freaks fans. Holler if you hear me!

February 4, 2014

Husband's "kill list" is your green light to fire an employee on FMLA

Take it from your ol' buddy Eric.

Let's say that your employee is on FMLA...

And let's say that, while your employee is on FMLA, you learn that her husband is involved in a motorcycle gang...

And let's say that your learn that the motorcycle-gang husband claims to knows how to hide bodies...

And let's say that the motorcycle-gang husband, the one who claims to know how to hide bodies, has compiled a "hit list" of employees in your workplace...

And let's say that your employee, the one on FMLA, the one with the motorcycle-gang husband who claims to know how to hide bodies and has compiled a "hit list" of employees in your workplace, claims to know how to hide weapons...

It's quite alright to fire the employee. That won't violate the FMLA.

And you should probably call the police too.

January 31, 2014

The hella-worst job interview blunders evah!

I heard this story once about a law-school graduate who was looking for his first job out of school. He applied to several local Philadelphia-area law firms, and ultimately received an interview from one of them.

The job interview was with two seasoned partners. 

According to this recent Career Builder press release, when it comes to a job interview, the first few minutes may be the most crucial. Nearly half (49 percent) of employers know within the first five minutes of an interview whether a candidate is a good or bad fit for the position, and 87 percent know within the first 15 minutes.

This particular interview started off well. But, less than 15 minutes in, the focus shifted.

You see, as most lawyers do, the partners eventually spent more of the interview time talking about themselves, than learning about the law-school graduate. Indeed, the "conversation" devolved into the lawyers complimenting each other on their legal acumen and many accomplishments:

"John here, just represented a multi-billion dollar conglomerate in an asset purchase of la-di-dah."

"Well, Ron, here, just won his three-week-long qui tam such-and-such in federal court."

"But John, here, also sits on the board of blah blah blah"

"And Ron..."

You get the idea. It reached the point where the law-school grad was unable to get in a word edge-wise. That is, until he politely interjected:

"Would you gentlemen like for me to leave the room so that the two of you may have some alone time together?"

How I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at the precise moment that the partners' brows furrowed and the "what the f**k did he just say?" look formed on their faces!

Hey, I would have hired that spunky law grad on the spot! But, from this employer's standpoint, it was a pretty big interview blunder.

Here are fifteen other memorable ones shared with CareerBuilder as part of its employer survey:

  • Applicant warned the interviewer that she "took too much valium" and didn't think her interview was indicative of her personality

  • Applicant acted out a Star Trek role

  • Applicant answered a phone call for an interview with a competitor

  • Applicant arrived in a jogging suit because he was going running after the interview

  • Applicant asked for a hug

  • Applicant attempted to secretly record the interview

  • Applicant brought personal photo albums

  • Applicant called himself his own personal hero

  • Applicant checked Facebook during the interview

  • Applicant crashed her car into the building

  • Applicant popped out his teeth when discussing dental benefits

  • Applicant kept her iPod headphones on during the interview

  • Applicant set fire to the interviewer's newspaper while reading it when the interviewer said "impress me"

  • Applicant said that he questioned his daughter's paternity

  • Applicant wanted to know the name and phone number of the receptionist because he really liked her

I think my story tops 'em. And below (and here) is another one that didn't make the survey. It's not safe for work, but it blows checking Facebook, hugs, and jogging suits out of the water. #Truth

December 26, 2013

Teacher fired over Facebook groping photo could get her job back

facebooksanta.jpg_jpgMerry Christmas, Laraine Cook.

Back in October, I blogged here about Ms. Cook, an Idaho school teacher who lost her job after her employer learned about a photo on her Facebook page that showed her boyfriend touching her chest.

(Oh, fine, here's the pic)

What made this story unique -- yeah, I know, teacher getting in trouble on Facebook is fast approaching "death and taxes" status -- is that the female teacher's boyfriend, also taught at the same school. He was not fired; merely disciplined.

Well, according to this story from Jimmy Hancock at the Idaho State Journal, Ms. Cook should be getting her job back soon:

A grievance panel has determined that former Pocatello High School girls' basketball coach Laraine Cook should again be allowed to work as a teacher and that she should be rehired as the girls' basketball coach for the 2014-2015 season....Addressing the firing, the panel said it should be rescinded and considered a suspension without pay from the time of the termination until the time of the panel's decision.

The panel further noted that the lack of a social media policy afforded Ms. Cook little guidance as to what the school considered online behavior that could cost her her job.

So, use Ms. Cook's situation as a wake-up call to implement/revise your social media policy. Remind your employees that certain online conduct -- even on their own time -- could cost 'em their jobs.

December 23, 2013

So your public relations executive just tweeted a racist joke that went viral...

justinesacco.jpgIt doesn't end well for the PR Exec. Just so we're clear.

Click through to read the full story...

Continue reading "So your public relations executive just tweeted a racist joke that went viral..." »

December 5, 2013

HR's 2013 Performance Review (via SHRM's #nextchat)

weknownext.pngYesterday, We Know Next, the muscle-bound social media arm of the Society for Human Resource Management, hosted a NextChat session on Twitter.

Oh, you don't know NextChat?

NextChat is a one-hour session on Twitter, which runs every Wednesday from 3-4 PM EST on a topic du jour -- that's the soup of the day -- affecting HR. 

Each NextChat features 8 questions posed to an HR influencer. During theNextChat, other Twitter users may tweet along using the hashtag #nextchat, or simply follow along by searching for the #nextchat hashtag.

This week, the HR influencer was moi. (Go figure). The topic: HR's 2013 Performance Review.

If you missed yesterday's NextChat, check out all great tweets after the jump...

Continue reading "HR's 2013 Performance Review (via SHRM's #nextchat)" »

November 15, 2013

NLRB ok's firing of two employees who trashed their company on Facebook

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It's been a while since we've discussed discipline for employee Facebook behavior. So, let's go over some basics. Generally speaking:

  1. one employee, griping alone on Facebook about his employer, can be fired; but

  2. two employees, complaining together on Facebook about their employer, cannot be fired.

The distinction is that the two employees are engaged in concerted activity -- group discussion of workplace issues -- which, even in a non-union private-sector workplace, is protected under the National Labor Relations Act.

However, as two employees recently learned, concerted activity has its limits -- even on Facebook.

Moore and Callaghan worked for a non-profit in California -- right up until their employer learned about this conversation on Facebook:

Moore: U goin' back or no??
Callaghan: I'll be back, but only if you and I are going to be ordering shit, having crazy events at the Beacon all the time. I don't want to ask permission, I just want to be LIVE. You down?
Moore: I'm goin''' to be a activity leader I'm not doing the t.c. [sic] let them figure it out and they start loosin' kids I ain't help'n HAHA
Callaghan: ha ha ha. Sweet. Now you gonna be one of us. Let them do the numbers, and we'll take advantage, play music loud, get artists to come in and teach kids how to graffiti up the walls and make it look cool, get some good food. I don't feel like being their bitch and making it all happy-friendly middle school campy. Let's do some cool shit, and let them figure out the money. No more Sean. Let's fuck it up. I would hate to be the person taking your old job.
Callaghan: hahaha! Fuck em. Field trips all the time to wherever the fuck we want!
Moore: U fuck'n right see you

After the employer canned both Moore and Callaghan, Callaghan pursued an unfair labor practice claim with the National Labor Relations Board.

An Administrative Law Judge determined (here) that this Facebook conversation did constitute concerted activity. However, the ALJ upheld the termination, concluding that the employer reasonably believed that the Facebook comments jeopardized the employer's funding and the safety of the youth it serves. 

Of course, it will not surprise me if this goes up to the full Board on appeal and gets reversed. 

Since taking an acute interest in social media and the workplace, the Board's position has been that employees have a fairly unfettered right to discuss terms and conditions of employment together on Facebook. Thus, if you have employees who engage in similar online behavior, whether you are unionized or not, don't count on a termination holding up if the matter is presented to the Board.

November 7, 2013

NJ votes to increase minimum wage to $8.25

Thumbnail image for nj1.jpgOn Election Day, NJ voters approved a constitutional amendment increasing the state's minimum wage by $1, from $7.25 to $8.25. The new wage rate will take effect on January 1, and future increases will be tied to inflation.

Governor Chris Christie, who was re-elected on Tuesday had opposed the increase, claiming that the state's economy would have a difficult time withstanding the increase.

New Jersey becomes the 20th state to establish a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum of $7.25.

Estimates suggest that the increase will affect about 400,000 NJ families. Hopefully, the wage hike does not affect hiring, especially in small businesses.

NJ business will want to be sure that, come January 1, they are not only paying out the proper minimum wage, but also accurately calculating overtime when minimum-wage employees work more than 40 hours in a workweek, lest they wish to find themselves in hot water with the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

October 21, 2013

Nearly half of employers investigate job applicants online


This according to a survey (here) released last week. 

Of the 2,775 hiring managers polled, almost half (48%) responded that employers will use Google or other search engines to research candidates. Nearly the same number (44%) will research the candidate on Facebook. Just over one quarter (27%) will monitor the candidate's activity on Twitter. 23% will review the candidate's posts or comments on, or other rating sites.

The survey cites these statistics as a way to encourage job seekers to keep their online personas clean from digital dirt. So, I'll take a different approach and offer some tips for employers:

  1. Employers are not required to conduct an online background check of job applicants. If you do, it's generally best to avoid demanding that applicants disclose social media usernames and passwords. This approach is illegal in many states and is likely to rub your candidates -- the ones you want to like working for you -- the wrong way.

  2. Wait until after the interview and before making the job offer to run the online search. This will save you time by minimizing the number of searches.

  3. If you use a third party to search, remember that the Fair Credit Reporting Act applies. And if you don't, it's probably a good idea to inform your applicants anyway that you will be vetting them online.

  4. Have someone other than the decisionmaker search. What the decisionmaker doesn't know (e.g., the applicant's national origin, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation) won't factor into the employment decision. Instead, have someone else research the applicant online, redact all of the protected-class information, and provide the decision maker with only the red flags that should influence an employment decision (hate speech, productivity issues, drug use, etc.)

  5. Give the applicant a chance to explain. Not everything you read online is true. Other information can be taken out of context. If you find something questionable about an applicant, allow that person an opportunity to address it before making an employment decision.

October 16, 2013

That's what they said: Social media and the workplace and the lawsuits

theysaid.jpgOne social media-related post in October. One may be good enough for the Red Sox -- eat it, Detroit -- not here.

So, with a little help from my friends, I've got three stories on the the impact that the technology in the workplace has on litigation proceedings.

Over at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog, Venkat Balasubramani writes here about a recent decision in which a court found that a passenger's social media rant against and airline employee may not have been defamation, but it was enough to create a claim of "false light."

Molly DiBianca at the Delaware Employment Law Blog (here) details a case in which the discoverability email is at issue. There, the court found that the employer defendant had to preserve relevant email from the personal email accounts of three of the company's former officers, because, the company should have known that these individuals were conducting company business from these personal email accounts.

Finally, we have this complaint I saw filed in Maryland federal court last week, where the plaintiff alleges that his former employer violated his First Amendment rights when it fired him for what the plaintiff described as "a satirical comment concerning assault weapons legislation" on his Facebook page. Specifically, the plaintiff wrote, "My aide had an outstanding idea .... Let's kill someone with a liberal ... then maybe we can get them outlawed too! Think of the satisfaction of beating a liberal with another liberal ... its almost poetic..." He then "liked" a Facebook friend's response, which read, "But ... was it an '[assault] liberal'? Gotta pick a fat one, those are the 'high capacity' ones. Oh pick a black one, those are more 'scary.' Sorry had to perfect on a [sic] cool idea!"

Can't wait to see how that one turns out.

October 3, 2013

Fan gets fired for playing hooky to maintain his Yankee Stadium attendance streak

yankeestadium.jpgYou're probably thinking to yourself, "What kind of person cares that much about going to a baseball game that he would risk losing his job over it?"

The guy who hasn't missed a Yankees home game for 38 years.

According to this CBS2 New York Report, Joseph Neubauer, who hadn't missed a Yankees home game since the 1970's, was fired from his position because he didn't want to mess up an attendance streak at Yankee Stadium.

It all went down last year. Mr. Neubauer, who worked for the City of New York, was scheduled to attend a night game at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, the game was rained out and rescheduled for the following afternoon. Mr. Neubauer, who had run out of paid time off, opted to skip work to keep his attendance streak alive.

And, for that, he got fired.

Now, before you start tuning up the violin, the CBS2 story further notes Mr. Neubauer's attendance issues went far beyond one unexcused absence:

A Judge suspended him for 60 days without pay in 2011 for going to Phoenix for the All-Star game even though his vacation request had been denied.
A year prior to that Neubauer had been suspended for 25 days after calling out sick for 13 Yankee games. Despite his problems in the past, Neubauer said he just wants his job back.

Well, at least now, nothing stands in the way of Mr. Neubauer attending the Yankees' playoff games this season. 


October 1, 2013

Woman's Kanye-inspired "take this job and shove it" video goes viral. Would YOU hire her?

Here's the video:

Here's the question:

Would you hire this woman? Tell me why or why not in the comments below.

UPDATE: What's good for the goose, is good for the gander.


September 20, 2013

Your resume is in Klingon, plus 11 other ways not to impress the hiring manager

Last week, released its survey and study of resume do's and don'ts. The one I received on used toilet paper was both a do-do and a don't. But, at least she used 12-point Times New Roman. Still, that didn't make the list. Here's what did...


How long should a resume be?
Two pages max; one page if you are a recent college grad.

Top 5 Most Common Resume Mistakes?

  1. Typos
  2. Too Generic
  3. Don't list skills
  4. Mimic the job posting
  5. Inappropriate email address

Most Outrageous Resume Mistakes

  • Resume was submitted from a person the company just fired
  • Resume's "Skills" section was spelled "Skelze"
  • Resume listed the candidate's objective as "To work for someone who is not an alcoholic with three DUI's like my current employer"
  • Resume included language typically seen in text messages (e.g., no capitalization and use of shortcuts like "u")
  • Resume consisted of one sentence: "Hire me, I'm awesome"
  • Resume listed the candidate's online video gaming experience leading warrior "clans," suggesting this passed for leadership experience
  • Resume included pictures of the candidate from baby photos to adulthood
  • Resume was written in Klingon language from Star Trek
  • Resume was a music video
  • Resume didn't include the candidate's name
  • On the job application, where it asks for your job title with a previous employer, the applicant wrote "Mr."
  • Resume included time spent in jail for assaulting a former boss

In the comments below, tell me your biggest resume pet peeve and the craziest resume item you ever read from a job applicant.