Job 1 For HR

            I recently saw an article that claimed HR’s number one job is still compliance.

            Compliance?  Really?  I don’t think so.

            The number one job for HR is alignment. It may sound like an overused word, but it’s a pretty simple idea.  Your company has a strategy.  The strategy is a plan for how to achieve a goal.  The goal may be increased profit margin, increased revenue volume, decreased cost, or some other measure.  HR supports this plan with its activities and initiatives.

            All of our actions – from who we hire, who we promote, how we train our managers to coach and discipline, how we train and develop our staff, the design of our compensation and benefits programs, the policies we write and the procedures we follow, even the organization of our employee data and our filing systems – should be in some way supporting the company strategy.  So no matter what we do, we should always ask ourselves one question:  “How is this helping the business?”

            Compliance, is of course, one part of the plan.  It saves the business money.  It prevents the business from being fined for non-compliance.  It may even prevent the business from losing customers due to non-compliance. Of course, being able to prove compliance is just as important (you never know when that OSHA inspector will show up).  That’s where a good filing system comes in.  You want to be able to put your hands on important documents quickly.  Thus, even the seemingly menial tasks and transactions take on strategic importance.

            I suppose if you are selling applicant tracking software, you might see compliance as HR’s top priority.  Yes, we have to stay on top of the documentation and make sure we are delivering the transaction services to our employees.  I am afraid that if we get too caught up in transactions and filing and compliance issues, we will ultimately miss the big picture.

            How would you describe the #1 job for HR?

            Comment below!

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What NOT To Do In an Interview

            I’ve had many adventures in interviewing the last few months.  Most of my recent interviewing has been for hourly positions in a production environment, but there are a few principles that I think one should observe anytime he or she is seriously hoping to get hired.

            Here’s what NOT to do in an interview:

1.   Forget your clothing.  Summer or not, here’s what I DON’T want to see:

a)      Your pedicure – or lack thereof.  If I am going to give you a tour of the production floor during the interview (and if I’m serious about hiring you, I am going to do so), I don’t want to be concerned about the fact that your feet aren’t protected.  So leave the sandals and flip-flops in the car and come in wearing shoes.

b)      Your tattoos – especially the ones the appear to be gang related.  Cover up as much as you can.

c)      Your knees or shins, either through the rips in your jeans or under your shorts.  If you are going to work in a production environment, the general rule is to cover as much skin as possible for safety reasons.  Dress as if you already know this.  Wear long pants and a shirt with sleeves

d)     Your cleavage.  If you are going to wear a dress, make sure it covers your shoulders and chest.

2.   Avoid eye contact. As an interviewer, I want to make you as comfortable during the interview process as I can. However, I am meeting a complete stranger and trying to decide, within a few minutes, what kind of an employee you would be.  You need to help me be comfortable with you to.  The person who can’t look at me when he answers a question makes me nervous and suspicious.

3.   Complain about the work environment.  If the first thing you notice is how hot it is, how much it smells, or how dirty it is, you will probably be considered unlikely to fit in that environment.

4.   Lie.  Seriously, don’t lie.  I had someone tell me he had ONE felony on his record for retail theft, but his record had been clean for the last four years.  The background check revealed the retail theft story was true, but the record from then on was far from clear.  Violent offenses were listed. A record doesn’t necessarily preclude one from employment, but lying always will.  We rejected the one candidate because he lied on his application about who referred him.

5.   Party beforehand.  If you are seriously searching for work, you can NOT fail a drug test, and you will be tested if you are hired.  The excuse that you were slipped something in a drink at a party or that you inhaled second hand smoke from your pot smoking friends won’t help you.

Yes, even in today’s job market, there are still people who don’t seem to be making the slightest effort when looking for a job.  Even the entry level jobs require some form of commitment, and that begins the minute you present yourself to the prospective employer.

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FAQ’s on LOST

            The internet chatter about the meaning of LOST and its finale continues on blogs and message boards.  There are still many theories floating around about to interpret it all, as well as questions people still want answered.  The good news is that there is still a lot to talk about, and will be for some time, to keep fans’ appetite fed.  So here are some more possible answers to the questions of LOST.

What about the numbers?

            There is theory on the internet that the numbers are part of an equation

to determine when the world will come to an end.  There is nothing in the episodes that confirms this, so it remains a theory.  We know the Dharma Initiative inscribed the numbers on the hatch, and I assume they chose those particular numbers.  At any rate, the numbers did take on a life of their own.  They brought Rousseau’s team to the Island, and indirectly brought Hurley to the Island, as he went to Australia to investigate the origin of the numbers, and tried to go home on Oceanic 815.

            We also know that there were numbers on a wheel in Jacob’s lighthouse, and each number had a name.  Jack Shepherd was next to number 23 (for 23 degrees, I presume), the same number assigned to him on the wall of the cave and one of the six numbers on the hatch.  Not all of the candidates had one of the six numbers.  Kate was a candidate at the end, but her number was 51, I believe.  Meanwhile, Locke had number 4, but was killed off long before The End.

            Is it a coincidence that the six numbers on the hatch corresponded to some of the final candidates?  Is it coincidence that the numbers made appearances throughout the series?  Flight 8-15, Desmond having order number 42 in the chicken restaurant, the Others having a room 23, etc.  Maybe it’s what Jung called synchronicity, a correspondence between an inner thought (Jacob’s mental designation of numbers to the candidates) and an external event.  Maybe the point of the numbers was to show how connected we are all to a greater cosmos, like a collective unconscious.  In fact, we learned in the finale that the souls of these characters were linked in some kind of karmic destiny.  They all needed each other and were destined to find each other.  In many of the flashbacks, the characters crossed paths with each other.

Why wasn’t Walt in the Church?

            I still believe that Walt was not in the church because he found his own destiny off the Island.  His story diverged from that of the other characters, and we he would “move on” in his own time.  On the Facebook fan page for LOST, there is one theory I read that Walt was later summoned by Hurley to return to the Island and be his replacement as protector, which is why he wasn’t with our final group.  I rather like that idea.

How did Widmore come to the Island and become an Other?

            I don’t think everyone who came to the Island was summoned by Jacob, all though the Black Rock and Oceanic 815 certainly were. I doubt that Jacob “invited” anyone to come to the Island to plant a hydrogen bomb there.  But someone did come across the Island and did plant a hydrogen bomb there, and Widmore and Hawking were part of the military group sent there to monitor Jughead.  I think that’s how they got there and they were recruited by Jacob via Richard to join his cause and become the 1950’s version of “Others”.

What’s with taking all the children?

            An impressionable young mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially if you are in the business of recruiting.  Jacob, as we know, was all about recruiting, as was his smokey brother.  Jacob had to bargain hard to get Dogen to come to the Island and become his temple master (putting the life of his son at stake).  Ben had to bargain hard to get Juliet to come to the Island and agree to stay (putting the life of her sister at stake).  Kids, however, are a lot easier to indoctrinate, unless you have a kid like Walt, who could probably resist whatever mind games the Others were using. Remember Ben’s comment, “ We got more than we bargained for”, when Walt was allowed to leave the Island with his father.  Walt was too “special” to be recruited, so he was of no use to Others, except as a pawn to manipulate his father into their service. 

            On a side note, I think that Mr. Eko was too special in his own way to be recruited by the Smoke Monster, which is why the Smoke Monster killed him.

What did “The Incident” do?

            I think the explosion served to bring the candidates back together.  When the O6 boarded Ajira 316, Eloise said the results would be “unpredictable”.  As that plane flashed over the Island, the candidates (Kate, Jack, Sayid, Hurley) were transported to 1977, where they were reunited with Jin and Sawyer, the other two remaining candidates.  Sun and the rest of the passengers landed in the present.  If Sun was originally a candidate, she would have lost that status when she became a mother (as Jacob said Kate had), but Jin was still a candidate.  The explosion brought the whole group to the present, where they needed to be for the final battle between Jacob and his brother.  Miles, Rose and Bernard travelled through time with them.

            Those are some of my after-thoughts on the meaning behind the mysteries of LOST, but I still enjoy reading other theories.  Let me know your thoughts!

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My Take On LOST

            I’ve read a lot of people are disappointed with the finale of Lost.  It seems some were expecting either more of a sci-fi explanation of all that happened, or something tied to some mythology, or an explanation of many of the weird coincidences (white rabbits, the numbers, fertility issues and the statue of Tarawet, references to Lewis Carroll and C. S. Lewis, the name Hanso, etc.) or some deeper meaning attached to characters like Walt and Aaron.   While we all had fun chasing our theories down the proverbial rabbit holes, we have to admit that we were thrown a few red herrings along the way and some of this was really just for fun.  Most of the mythology was explained prior to the finale.  We were more or less told to expect a character-driven ending, and that’s what we got.

So here are some answers:

What is the Island?

            The Island is an island, a piece of land somewhere in the ocean, the exact location of which is unimportant, especially since we know the Island can be moved. It is also the physical location of The Light.

What is the Light?

            Essentially, the Light is a MacGuffin. It could be Promethean Fire, Pandora’s Box, the location of Osiris , the Holy Grail or Ark of the Covenant, the Light of God, whatever you want.  The point is, it is the reason the Island needs protecting.

What is the story about? 

            Science v Faith, more than Good v Evil, is the main theme.  Good and evil were always somewhat blurred.  The Light is the source of electromagnetic energy which causes unique physical phenomena, such as freedom from cancer, paralysis, and male infertility, not to mention time travelling and agelessness.  It is something many people would want to seize, to study, to understand, to harness and to use for their own purposes.  This is why it needs protection.  For others, like John Locke, the Island is something to believe in.

            The conflict began with Jacob and his Brother.  Jacob wanted to believe, the Brother wanted to KNOW.  Jacob believed what the Mother told him, even when he thought he was the less favored son and knew she had lied to them.  The Brother was not satisfied.  He wanted to know what the Light is, what people are like and what’s across the sea.  Frustrated with his Mother’s secrecy, he went to join the shipwrecked castaways, the original Losties, to find his own answers.  Jacob wanted to believe that people were basically good, that he and the Mother were basically good.

What is the Island Protector?

            This is the person who keeps the Light safe from exploitation or extinction.  This person is imbued with certain “powers”, including:

  • Ability to live indefinitely
  • Ability to pass on gift of everlasting life
  • Ability to make rules governing the people on the Island
  • Ability to pass the cup to chosen successor
  • Ability to use the Island for whatever they want.  The Mother was so fearful of people, she wanted to keep the island a secret.  Jacob wanted to do more.  He wanted company, so he wanted people to come, and he wanted the Island to be an opportunity for redemption. I imagine Hugo would use the Island as a place where people could find the good in themselves and others.

The Long Con

            The story started with a group of shipwrecked castaways and one Other (the Mother figure).  The Mother had presumably held the job of Island Protector for some time, and had two purposes for killing Claudia and raising her two sons:  to choose a successor, then get herself killed.  This was the only way she could give up the job.  She made a rule that the brothers couldn’t kill each other, then she set things up so that one would kill her, and one would take over her job (but not in that order).

            Her scheme worked, but had unintended consequences.  Since the Brother couldn’t be killed by Jacob, throwing him into the Light transformed him into a mass of energy, like the physical manifestation of a dark soul.  Because it was pure energy, it could not move over water, and it could be kept at bay by some kind of an electronic fence.  In other words, it still had physical properties. 

            Now the game was on.  The Brother couldn’t kill Jacob, but there was a simple loophole – get someone else to do it.  Jacob would make this difficult by recruiting Others to protect him and serve him in his mission to protect the Island.  His first recruit was Richard Alpert, sent to him by the Brother.  Jacob could give special powers to his Others.  Richard didn’t age.  Dogen’s son lived and Dogen had the power to protect the Temple with his presence.  Juliet’s sister was cured of cancer.  Ilana was trained to protect him with her team.  Jacob kept himself hidden underneath a statue, and no one, not even Richard, could enter without an invitation.  For the Brother to kill Jacob, he would have to manipulate someone who could get close to Jacob, and to do this, he would have to take on a form (Locke) that his dupe (Ben) would trust.

 The Dharma Initiative

            Scientific exploration couldn’t be stopped, but it could be contained.  The Dharma Initiative was everything the Mother feared – people delving into the unique properties of the Island, running the risk of harming or extinguishing the Light.  Yet they were allowed to coexist with the Others as long as they respected a truce line that kept them from coming too close to the “Heart of the Island”.  When they became too dangerous (like when they built the Swan station and almost destroyed the Island with the energy that was released), they were purged from the Island with the help of new recruit Ben Linus.  Ben was essentially a Man of Faith, a follower of Jacob who believed he was one of the good guys, though he was never entirely sure why.  Jacob led his people, starting with Richard, to believe that he had a grand plan for Island and its servants, but was intentionally vague about the details (much like the Mother).  Ben replaced Widmore, who became corrupt – too enamored with the power of his position.  When Ben fell prey to the same weakness, he would be replaced – very briefly – by John Locke.

 What is the Alt-Verse? 

            This is the answer the finale gave us.  We were told the Island is not purgatory or hell, and that was true.  The Island was a real place on Earth which had many visitors over the years, including all the Oceanic survivors. The sideways flashes were a kind of limbo or purgatory or just an alternate universe that existed independently of space and time.  People had lives that felt real to them, yet were somehow empty.  When they realized where they were, they were not concerned with the fact that they had died in real life, they were overjoyed that they were all going to a place where they would be together forever.  Only Jack died in The End.  The rest of the characters died either before The End, or sometime after.

            Back when Desmond turned the failsafe key and survived the impact of the electromagnetic energy, he gained immunity to such energy, as well as the power to “see” back and forth in time.  In the Alt-verse, the MRI caused his “awakening”, and he began to see flashes again.

            Eloise Hawking, by contrast, knew what she knew because she had lived through it all.  She and Widmore lived a long journey of discovering the properties of the Island, how to find it, and what events were significant in the history of the Island.  In the Alt-verse, Eloise told Desmond, “Stop what you’re doing.  You’re not ready yet.”  In fact, she was not ready to “let go” of this imaginary life where she could have a normal relationship with her son and not lose him as she did in real life.  She knew where she was, but was not ready to leave.

            Finally, it’s a testament to the complexity of Ben’s character that he was not ready to move on, even after faithfully serving as Hugo’s advisor and being forgiven by John Locke.  He did all he could in the Alt-verse to redeem himself: he chose to protect Alex rather than serve his own desire for power, he became the father figure Alex really needed, and he became a true friend to John Locke.  Yet he still had things to work out.

 Imagined Aftermath

            Kate helps Claire re-unite with Aaron and stays put (no more running) as she watches Aaron grow up with his real Mommy.  Sawyer and his buddy Miles find something to do together (might help that Miles glommed a few diamonds from the graves of Nikki and Paolo).  I have no idea what Richard Alpert finds to do in the Real World. Hurley and Ben live out their days on the Island and fulfill their purposes (Protector and Advisor).

 Why Hurley?

He was willing to ask for help.  He gave Ben the chance to be #2 and made it seem like Ben was doing him the favor, rather than Hurley giving Ben what he needed.  Unlike Jacob, Hurley had no secrets and no agenda. He did not need to find anything, fix anything, or prove anything to anyone, not even himself.  Still, he was alone, and Island Protector seems to be a one man job.

            Sun didn’t want to “save the damn world”, she wanted to be with Jin.  Jin and Sun preferred to die together than live alone, and the Island would have wanted to keep only one of them as Protector. Together, they didn’t need Island.  Bernard and Rose didn’t want “the drama”.  They had each other.  Kate regained her candidacy when she relinquished her role as Aaron’s mother, yet Claire and Aaron were too important to her.  The bond created between Kate and Claire when Kate delivered Aaron would remain significant for the rest of their lives – and after.  Sawyer wanted freedom.  Much like Jacob’s Brother, he wanted to “get off the damn rock” and make his own choices about his life.

            As for Richard Alpert, when Jacob’s fire burned out (which was AFTER the smoke monster attacked him), Richard started to age.  The Island could no longer give him immortality, so it was time to go find a life in the New World.  Desmond’s real life’s purpose was always to be with Penny and Charlie, which is what Jack told him to do

            Jack had to carry out a mission – to fix something that was wrong – with absolute conviction and courage.  Killing the Brother and saving the Island was a task only Jack could see through to the end (with a little help from his friends).  Kate tried to persuade him with vague promises about their love life (“Nothing is irreversible”).  Even Desmond tried to tempt Jack with his visions of the Alt-verse.  As usual, Jack’s resolve was unwavering.  More importantly, he had to believe in what he was doing without fully understanding what he was doing.  Jack’s leap of faith was a triumph of Faith. 

So What Did It All Mean? 

            Maybe when Juliet said “it worked” she wasn’t referring to the bomb detonation, all though that certainly started an important chain of events, but the resetting of the Island after Desmond turned the light out.  Just like unplugging a vending machine, then plugging it back in to get it to let go of something that was stuck.  Jack’s action – and faith – allowed them all to get “unstuck” from the Alt-verse and move on.  But he couldn’t have done it without all of them.  That interdependence was always at the heart of the show.  You don’t need to believe in aliens, specific religions, or esoteric philosophies to know that we are not alone in this world.  We always have each other.  This lesson was learned by everyone on the show on some level.  The mythology of the island merely provided the background.

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Compulsory Jumps: Solution to Men’s Figure Skating

THE PROBLEM

            We all know by now the controversy surrounding the outcome of the Men’s final in Olympic figure skating.  America’s Evan Lysacek won without a quad, and Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko finished with silver, even with a quad.

            According to both Plushenko and the Canadian silver medalist Elvis Stojko,  no one should be allowed to win a gold medal without at least attempting a quad.  Better, it seems, to start your program with a major fall and stutter on the landing of your triple-triple jump combination than to skate strong and clean throughout the program.  The rules don’t reward you for trying and missing, and that seems to be Stojko’s beef.

            The fact that Lysacek did win gold ultimately had more to do with what he did do, rather than what he did not do.  He did load his program from beginning to end with as much content as he could without the quad.  His final triple lutz was beautiful, and the footwork/spin finale was, for my eyes, the best part of the program.  The jumps may not all have been six feet off the ground, but they were straight in the air and flowed out of the landings.

            Plushenko started brilliantly with his four jumping passes, but then the program started to fade.  He slowed down, had some ugly positions in the air on the jumps and finished with a rather weak attempt at showmanship.  Had his jumps been steadier, I’m sure he would have won.  If you rely on your jumps at the expense of all other elements, then they have to be perfect.  That’s the system that everyone seems to be lamenting.

            As for the composition, both programs were boring.  Most men’s long programs bore me nowadays, but that’s all in the name of progress.  Either they are a mess of falls and mistakes that mar any attempts at interpreting the music, or they are a long, boring series of jumping passes.  I loved Patrick Chan’s attempt at presenting “The Phantom of the Opera”, but it was hard to really enjoy the program with all the mistakes.

            I enjoyed men’s skating with Boitano and Orser, Browing and Petrenko, Todd Eldredge and Paul Wylie, all of whom certainly strived for technical achievements, but also had some style in their programs.  I don’t remember Boitano’s second triple axel at the 1988 Olympics, but I remember how great the spread eagle looked with blue uniform costume and choreography that brought the program to life and made the jumps even more exciting to watch.  I remember Eldredge winning a world bronze medal with a great interpretation of “Les Miserables”.  Did Michael Weiss land the quad when he skated to Santana in that orange shirt?  I don’t remember, but that was an exciting program to watch!  And who did that wonderful routine to the soundtrack of “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story”, combining the beauty and athleticism of the martial arts with the beauty and athleticism of figure skating?

            Well enough of this nostalgia.  We don’t want to see men’s figure skating “regress” to a perfect blend of technical expertise with style and composition.  We want jumps. More jumps.  Bigger and harder jumps.

THE SOLUTION

So here is how we should fix men’s figure skating.

            Eliminate the men’s long program and replace it with a competition of compulsory jumps.  The compulsory jumps portion of the competition would be given the same weight in the overall scoring as the current long program. 

            Every skater would have to first perform each of the six triple jumps (toe loop, salchow, loop, flip, lutz and axel) and be given marks on how well each jump is executed.  Then he would have to do two triple/triple jump combinations of his choice, then a quad of his choice, then a quad/triple jump combination of his choice.  The marks given for each jump would be multiplied by the grade of difficulty of each jump or combination.  The score is combined with the short program score, and high scorer wins. 

            This would give Stojko and Plushenko what they want.  Everyone hoping to compete would have to at least attempt a quad.  If he makes it, he scores points.  If he misses it, he doesn’t score points, but he doesn’t lose points for trying.  A skater might garner enough points with all the triple jumps and combinations, if they are well executed, to make up for the lack of the quad.

            As the years go by, the sport can be updated by making the jump and combination requirements more difficult, ensuring there will be progress in this aspect.  Watching men’s compulsory jumps would be a little like watching men’s diving, with suspense building throughout the competition as the attempted jumps and combinations become more difficult.

            The men will still have the short program to show off footwork, spins, musicality, and all those other elements that distract from the all important quad jumps.

            My suggestion that the long program be replaced with a compulsory jumps competition is no more extreme or ludicrous then suggesting that a skater should have no right to win a competition without a quad, that “they killed figure skating” by awarding the gold to a quad-less program, or that the person who lands the quad wins automatically, regardless of the quality of the rest of his program.

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FADS

I am a little slow on the uptake when it comes to staying current.  It took me a long time to get on Facebook and Twitter.  I missed the whole Doppelganger week on Facebook.  I tried looking for and uploading a match, but wasn’t happy with result.  Then my son complained that I took down the picture of the two of us from my profile (“How could you?”)  I can’t keep up with all the fads on Twitter.  I figured out #ff for Follow Friday pretty quickly, but just as quickly stopped trying to pick out people of everyone else to follow.  My tastes are too eclectic, anyway.

I loved the Harry Potter novels and still look forward to the movies. However, I didn’t jump on the “Twilight” bandwagon until the second movie came out.  I have now finished reading the fourth and final book.  That’s at least two more movies I have to look forward to, in addition to the next two Potter flicks!

The latest seems to be  find your name meaning on www.urbandictionary.com .  I found a lot of offensive material on this site, but I did find a definition for my name that I posted to Facebook.  It wasn’t entirely accurate, but entertaining nevertheless.  I really wanted to upload the definition for my husband’s name, but the link didn’t work.  Just as well, because only the second definition applies.  There are a lot of words on the site that are not exactly family-friendly.

Those who know my husband know that this definition fits him to T:

The name Brian is of Celtic origin and means; Strength and Honor. He is a very intelligent guy, who keeps his priorities straight and is extremely well rounded. Not only is he smart, but he is athletic, handsome, sexy, funny, and a great guy to hang out around. Trust me his somewhat klutzy personality can be funny when he plays the role/ He can often be very dramatic, in the good way. He is one of those guys that you can just share about anything with. He instantly just gains your trust. He is very reliable. Brian will always be there for a friend, no matter what the conditions. Brian is very creative and loves to contribute ideas. He has dreams of changing the world, and making it a better place for all to live. He is always true to who he is. He is a natural born leader, who can lead a group of people yet still have time for each individual. Only the lucky girls will get to be in a relationship with this guy, but anyone can be his friend.

 

If it seems like I’m gushing a bit about my great guy, just remember two things: (1) I didn’t write the above, I just cut and pasted from the website; and (2) I’m technically still a newlywed.  I’ve been married for a little over eight years, so if my husband lives to age 92 (his grandparents made it to their 90’s), we are less than 20% of the way into our marriage.  So I can still gush.

In the meantime, I am still trying to figure out what FarmVille is!

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THAT’S ILLEGAL! (How Bad Bosses Breed Burdensome Laws)

            I recently saw an episode of the television series House, and the episode ended [SPOILER ALERT] with a termination.  In the show, Dr. House decides for mental health reasons to give up his role as head of the department of diagnostics at his hospital.  Predictably, his long term employee, Dr. Foreman, asks for the promotion to his position and gets it.  There is one personal complication in Dr. Foreman’s new position.  One of his new employees is also his girlfriend.  The two doctors were able to manage the lines between their personal and professional relationship when they were coworkers, but with Foreman as the Boss, this division became more difficult. Not wanting to give up his girlfriend, Foreman decides to fire her instead.  His plan was to give her up as a subordinate and keep dating her.

            Wait a sec – that’s illegal, isn’t it?  I mean, how is it NOT gender discrimination to fire a female employee for sleeping with the new boss?  Interestingly, Foreman makes this decision alone.  He does not take this up with the hospital administrator or anyone else.  Either the hospital has no such procedures for terminations, or the new department head was not briefed on them.  Nor, apparently, was he trained in employment law matters.  Would this sort of thing happen in the real world?  You betcha!  Not because we don’t enough laws or case histories to instruct us in these matters, but because many bad bosses act alone, without understanding of or regard for the protections afforded employees.

            My point here is that there should not have to be a law to address a case such as this.  So much lip service is given to people being the organization’s greatest asset, yet we still need the EEOC, the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, other federal and numerous state agencies to enforce the volumes of employment laws that are written to protect employees from bad bosses who fail to show their employees the respect they deserve.

            I heard two disturbing stories from a friend last week.  In one case, an employee was unable to work overtime and weekends while his wife was dying of cancer.  He is now “retired”.  Meanwhile, his former boss, who was covering the workload, has been putting in six and sometimes seven day workweeks, or so it sounded.  Yet when he took one day off to take his wife, also with a serious health condition, to the doctor he was docked.  The FMLA should certainly have protected the first husband, and the second should have been protected by Illinois’ One Day Rest In Seven Act, if not the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Granted, the FMLA does allow an exempt employee to be “docked” for time missed during an FMLA leave, but the Illinois law guarantees that an employee can take one day off during every seven day period.  In other words, if you work Saturday and Sunday, you are entitled to take another day off during the same work week. 

            Look, I don’t know enough about these two cases to know if there is a real legal case against the employer, but if there isn’t, there should be.  I remember a time before the FMLA when a very bad CEO wanted to change a policy allowing a two month personal leave to only one month, would not grant leave to mothers who needed to make child care arrangements, or make alternate work schedules for those who wanted to achieve some work-life balance.  It’s because of bosses like him that we have to have a law protecting employees from adverse employment actions if they become ill or need to care for an ill family member.  Unfortunately, as anyone in Human Resources knows, this law put a great administrative burden on employers, a burden that would not be necessary if bosses regarded employees as assets and worked with them to make the employment relationship beneficial for both sides.  An employee who is already working excessive overtime should be able to take a day off for a personal matter, even if vacation time is already exhausted. 

            It all comes down to the X versus Y style managers.  The Y style managers believe that most employees truly want to do a good job and give their organization their best effort.  Therefore, if an employee needs an accommodation, he or she is afforded it as part of the employment relationship.  The X style manager believes that most employees will try to do as little as possible and abuse the employment relationship.  Therefore, employees will be managed by excessive rules and restrictions with little or no accommodation for personal circumstances.  Many of the laws that Human Resources professionals need to know and administer are the result of employees complaining about lack of basic fair treatment.

            On the other hand, I am sometimes grateful we have these laws, because they make it easier for me to advocate on behalf of the employee to make sure they are treated fairly, even as I am watching out for the best interests of the organization.  The two goals should NOT be mutually exclusive!

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