Sometimes, organizations have to shake up the troops. If productivity had been below par and attitudes poor, a new boss who takes a hard line may be just what the company needs.
When that new manager arrives, there is bound to be resentment among the subordinates. After all, they may have become accustomed to griping about conditions at the water cooler and doing as little as possible to get by. As long as the new supervisor doesn’t single out employees who are members of a particular protected class, there’s nothing wrong with a heavy dose of “follow the rules” .
Advice: Make sure HR monitors the situation for equal treatment.
Recent case: Sylvia Brown, who is black, lost her job with the Pulaski County Board of Education after the new superintendent concluded Brown lacked professionalism, had a poor attitude, was insubordinate and generally seemed unwilling to correct what the superintendent viewed as poor behavior.
Brown sued, alleging race discrimination. But the school district showed the court that the superintendent had equally high standards for everyone, without regard to race. She was, as the court put it, a “by the book” administrator who expected all employees to toe the line. Because Brown couldn’t show that the superintendent was acting in bad faith, she got nowhere with her lawsuit. (Brown v. Pulaski Board of Education, et al., No. 07-11078, 11th Cir., 2008)
- Beware promises about schedules, retention that could create an employment contract
- Warn managers not to advise employees on litigation
- Merely speaking about need for diversity isn't protected
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