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HR’s Loose Lips Can Sink Your Company’s Defense

by on
in Case In Point

Sometimes in HR, you know more than you want to know. But as this new court ruling shows, sharing inside information with an employee isn’t a smart move … for your employer or your career.

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{ 7 comments᰾ read them below or add one }

Chester Scrapps February 12, 2012 at 10:56 am

I was just teasing you about the g.a.y thing. Your response was very thoughtful, and I do appreciate your sensitivity.

I still prefer my version of number 4 to yours. At least you could have managed to insert _jackass_ at least once :)

hope I made you smile.

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Mindy January 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Thank you all for your comments. I appreciate the time each one of you took to write in.

First, I want to clarify my Case-in-Point blog message. HR has a responsibility to guide management to do the right thing first and prevent illegal behavior from occurring in the workplace. The director of HR should have initially gone to the executive committee with her concerns prior to any employment action being taken. That’s how to best protect employees. I’m sure everyone agrees that preventive action is a best practice rather than passively letting some allegedly illegal decisions be made and acted upon.The HR Professional did not go about this situation in the right and professional way and it resulted in many jobs lost, a lawsuit and bad press…and a controversial blog.

Second, I never edit out the word “gay.” Please see numerous CIP blogs over the years where that word is used. It appears our back-end blog software may have done this for some reason. Not sure why. Gay is not an offensive term and either are any of the other protected classes which I reference frequently from court decisions.

Again, thank you all for sharing your thoughts. Based on your valuable comments, I have added a #4 point above:

Best regards always,
Mindy

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Kevin January 6, 2012 at 10:02 am

I agree with Chester. When things like this happen people wonder where our morals have gone. I hope because of the egregious actions of the company that they were fined severely and made an example of. I am amazed that illegal actions would be encouraged. If it was the individual that committed something illegal I bet HR couldn’t find a way severe enough to punish and make an example of the employee.

Like Chester, I will be watching closely at future comments.

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Chester Scrapps January 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm

In my original text, the word G-A-Y was automatically changed to ***.
Is that offensive? requiring automatic censorship?

I guess that means I am inherently offensive.

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Chester Scrapps January 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Sarah –
I was not aware that you were expressing a similar sentiment at the same time I was writing. We apparently had the same knee-jerk reaction.

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Chester Scrapps January 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm

“After Makowski was told of her termination … the HR director … shared a little secret, telling her the firing was really due to her pregnancy and maternity leave.”

It is not ok to terminate someone because they have reproduced. I am gay and do not ever want to have kids. If anyone prefers not to have co-workers that chatter endlessly about their kids, IT IS ME, but I understand and respect the fact that I am not the only person on this planet.

I know that it is NOT RIGHT to terminate an employee because she becomes pregnant.

The HR director knew it was wrong as well! She should have blown the whistle rather than participate in the firing of a 2nd employee to cover up the firm’s sins.

Please add a last line to your numbered list of lessons learned:
#4. Don’t be a jackass. If you discriminate against the people in your workplace, you are a jackass. Not everyone around you is an “extra” cast to play in the movie being filmed entirely about you. If you don’t agree, at least treat the extras with respect and dignity.

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Chester Scrapps January 5, 2012 at 5:10 pm

So you’re basically telling HR employees not to do the right thing by telling employees that they’re being fired ILLEGALLY? Seriously? I understand that this is a blog about saving face for companies, but I find it hard to believe that you are actually going to ENCOURAGE Human Resources professionals to “keep their mouths shut” when the company they are working for does something illegal … How could you sleep at night, knowing that the company you work for has fired a woman simply for having a child? What you’re saying here is that even though the company DID fire this woman for having a child, that’s okay – that it’s NOT okay to tell the ex-employee that what the company did is illegal. I am floored, and I will definitely keep this in mind when reading these blogs in the future. Yikes. Pretty scary!

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