Caution bosses against openly asking sensitive questions — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Caution bosses against openly asking sensitive questions

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Remind managers who feel the need to ask employees sensitive questions to do so only in a private setting. Doing otherwise could trigger a defamation lawsuit.

Recent case:
Loraine Jackson, who worked at a Kroger’s store, was called into a meeting with her supervisor and a store manager to talk about her declining performance. They asked her to respond to a rumor that she was an alcoholic—something she denied.

Jackson sued, alleging defamation. But the court threw out the case because the question was raised in private and was ostensibly related to her performance. Only people directly involved in her supervision heard the question. (Jackson v. Kroger, No. H-07-2322, SD TX, 2009)

Final note: Asking about something like alcoholism is a bad move. Better to focus on specific performance issues.

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