What would happen if you refused to work Thanksgiving?

by Evil HR Lady on November 26, 2014

This question came up as a search term that landed someone on my blog. It’s a good question. The person also used the word exempt twice in their google word string, so to be clear, this is a variation of the question, but I’ll answer it from both an exempt and non-exempt point.

Here’s the official answer: I have no idea.

Ha, ha, I’m so helpful!

But, that’s the true answer as I don’t know your company, your boss, and your rules. One thing is for sure, except in a very few exceptions, you can be fired for not showing up on a shift.

But it’s Thanksgiving! You shouldn’t have to work!

I totally get that. And every year people freak out that retail people are required to work, because they should be home with their families. Yep. Totally agree. But retail people aren’t the only ones who have to work on Thanksgiving. People in hospitals, gas stations, call centers, restaurants, hotels, IT people, and people with global responsibilities all have to work. The rest of the world doesn’t shutdown for Thanksgiving.

The reality is, stores are open because people like to shop on Thanksgiving. Grocery stores? Totally get that. Everyone runs out of something. But, who wants to go to Kmart on Thanksgiving? (Question: Who wants to go to Kmart not on Thanksgiving?) If everyone else would stop shopping, then the stores wouldn’t be open. But, I digress.

What happens is that your boss gets to set the schedule, regardless of whether you’re exempt or non-exempt. A lot of people think exempt means you should be able to come and go as you please. It doesn’t. It means you are paid a fixed amount, regardless of the number of hours you work during a week. 20 hours? Same paycheck as 60 hours. Non-exempt or hourly means you get paid by the hour. (And salaried non-exempt is the stupidest designation ever. That basically means you get the same paycheck every week, unless you work more than 40 hours, then you’re eligible for overtime, except in some jurisdictions where overtime kicks in at over 8 hours in one day. I hate salaried non-exempt designations and implore all HR managers to do away with it. It just causes problems.)

Now, if you’re non-exempt and you don’t work, you don’t get paid (unless you have PTO you can use). But what if you’re exempt and you don’t show up on Thanksgiving? Well, as long as you don’t work at all on that day, your boss doesn’t have to pay you. That is the exception for exempt employees–whole day away means no pay. (I should put that on a T-shirt.)

But, when you pitch a fit and don’t work Thanksgiving and don’t have a good reason (Good reason being not everyone has to work, and you worked it last year and your co-workers who got it off last year are getting it off this year, for instance. Good reason is not “I don’t wanna!”) you’re going to put your manager in a tough spot. She’s either got to discipline you or let you get away with it. If she disciplines you, your relationship may change. If she lets you get away with it, she’s lost a bit of respect from the other employees. It’s a tough place for her.

So, basically, my advice is that if you’re scheduled to work a holiday, you show up.

Now, that said. Managers, let’s talk about scheduling for holidays. You shouldn’t play favorites on Holidays. You should do the schedule far in advance. You should offer incentives for volunteers (if that’s reasonable). You should reference last year’s  (or last holiday’s) schedule so that the same person doesn’t get the worst shift two years in a row. You should consider all employees equally and not give Jane the holiday off because she has kids and make Holly  work each year because she doesn’t.

And if this is retail, consider closing for a holiday or two. You might like it.


How Job Interviews Really Go

by Evil HR Lady on November 25, 2014

I stumbled upon this video today:


Now, to be honest, I already knew about Kid Snippets, but I hadn’t seen this one before.

I want you all to change your job interviews to match this one. Especially the salary negotiation with fingers and multiple firings.

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Workplace (double) standards about dress

by Evil HR Lady on November 25, 2014

What you wear reflects who you are, or who you want to be. It’s why you should “dress one level up” for a job interview. That means if you’re applying for a job in a business-casual environment, you still wear a suit to the interview, whether you’re a man or woman.

But once you leave the suit environment, dress codes for men and women vary a great deal. Not because the dress codes themselves are written differently. In fact, a good dress code is gender-neutral. For example. HR expert Susan Heathfield states in her sample business casual dress code,

To keep reading, click here: Workplace (double) standards about dress


Why Facebook’s Bus Driver Problem Could Be Your Problem

by Evil HR Lady on November 24, 2014

Facebook’s bus drivers just voted to unionize, and Facebook has received a lot of commentary about their poor work practices, such as forcing the drivers to work split shifts. In this case, drivers sometimes start at 6:00 a.m. or before and don’t end until 9:45 p.m.

As you can imagine, that makes for a pretty miserable work-life balance. According to one driver, Jimmy Maerina, drivers aren’t allowed to take additional employment during their 5 hour mid-day break, the company doesn’t provide enough resting space, and many drivers sleep in their cars, as they need rest but live too far away to go home. He says he’s furious with Facebook, according to Business Insider.

To keep reading, click here: Why Facebook’s Bus Driver Problem Could Be Your Problem


Dear Evil HR Lady,

Hi, I am wondering about overtime etc. Basically, my wife has worked in an office most of her life. Recently, she has been working for a small business as an office manager; running the office, ordering parts, making sure the other people were getting their work schedule for the day, etc.

She worked 3 years there, basically worked through lunch etc, stayed late waiting on workers to get in, getting office supply on the weekends etc. So after 2 years she decided to put probably 3-5 hours on her time sheet which made that overtime, as every 1 else was paid it when they worked overtime.

After about 8 months, her boss fired her for doing it, said he didn’t approve it. Said she was stealing from him. now he’s trying to have her arrested for it? Is this right that he can do this?

It’s not right and he can’t do this. I mean, sure he can call the police, but it’s actually against the law to NOT put all the hours you worked on the time card. Now, a boss can certainly fire someone for working unauthorized overtime, but they still have to pay for the unauthorized overtime.

The law is so strict that even if the boss said, explicitly, “You are not authorized to work more than 40 hours a week. If you work more than 40 hours a week I will not pay you for that time. Is that clear?” and you worked 41 hours, he’d still be required to pay you time and a half for that last hour even though he told you not to. It’s why this lady got fired for working through lunch. The law allows no exception for a non-exempt employee to work without pay.

Now, that said, a reminder: the boss can certainly fire you for working unauthorized overtime, but he still has to pay.

Now, this boss is an idiot on many levels (he should have noticed the overtime 8 months ago), and even more so because if your wife has only been recording her overtime for the past 8 months, and she worked overtime before that, she’s legally entitled to overtime pay for the previous time too. Yeah! So, go ahead and contact the Department of Labor and file a complaint. Normally I would tell you to be cautious about this if you were willingly working off the clock because this will burn bridges and few hours overtime isn’t worth the bad reference. But, once the boss tries to have you arrested, that bridge is already burned, so it’s time to reap the rewards of such a blazing fire.

Now, the one exception to this is if she falsified her time card. If she really wasn’t working those hours then, yeah, that’s fraud. Would the police/district attorney’s office investigate? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on how much fraud it involved. But as long as she actually worked those hours, he’s the one who should be worried.


5 Signs That You Should Hire an HR Person

by Evil HR Lady on November 21, 2014

As you begin your start up, you’re concerned about getting the idea, getting the funding, and getting the customers, but at some point, you are going to need to start thinking about getting an Human Resources expert on board. It’s no fun to have to use your limited funds for someone in a “cost center” role, but bringing someone onboard at the right time will actually save you money in the long run. Here are 5 signs that it’s time to bring an expert in-house.

1. You’ve got 50 employees. 50 employees is when the big laws, like FMLA, kick in. Other laws start earlier at 15 employees, and some start when you reach two, but by the time you’ve got 50 people on your staff, you really need someone who can help you navigate the alphabet soup impose by your federal, state, and local governments. These laws seem simple on their face, but they can be very, very complicated. You need an expert.

To keep reading, click here: 5 Signs That You Should Hire an HR Person


The productivity payoff of a flexible workplace

by Evil HR Lady on November 19, 2014

Want to increase your revenue by 10 percent? Give your employees flexibility. A new Harvard Business Review article says that’s the key to success. For instance, companies that allow employees to work from home at least three time per month are more likely to report growth than companies that have more restrictive policies.

Is flexibility practical? A lot of companies can’t imagine functioning without strict rules and constant oversight. But these findings say the opposite is true. When you give flexibility, you get better results. For example, Cisco says it saves $277 million per year, thanks to its telecommuting policies.

But adding flexibility can be a difficult task if your company isn’t used to it. Here are some tips for making the changes.

To keep reading, click here: The productivity payoff of a flexible workplace


Thanksgiving isn’t quite here yet, but it’s time to start thinking about presents at the workplace. Whether you want to label them as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Holiday or year end gifts, they are common place. Employees tend to want things like Harry and David’s Fruit baskets, gift cards, time off, and of course, money. But what do you buy your boss?

Are you ready? Really ready? Because once you read this, your holiday shopping days will be greatly simplified. Here’s what you should get your boss this year (and every year): Nothing.

Not a typo. The workplace is not an egalitarian place. There is a hierarchy and people who have hire/fire power authority over you don’t get a present from you. This is not because you have a bad boss, or as revenge over that small bonus. It’s just not the proper thing to do. The boss can give you a present, but it does not go both ways.

To keep reading, click here: The Definitive Guide to Buying The Boss a Christmas Present


When inappropriate texts aren’t harassment

by Evil HR Lady on November 18, 2014

Colleen Bowling had what looked like a slam-dunk sexual harassment case. A co-worker had sent her a series of text messages that included sexually explicit questions and inquiries into her sex life. She sued and lost the case. The details of this case shed light on the not-always-clear criteria for what constitutes sexual harassment.

What happened

Bowling was hired as a police officer f0r the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lieutenant Quinn Bennett was assigned to train her. Sometime after the training began, the two began exchanging text messages. These quickly evolved into a mix of work-related and sexual messages. Bowling claims Bennett began prying into inappropriate areas.

To keep reading, click here: When inappropriate texts aren’t harassment 

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My job is nickle and diming me to death

by Evil HR Lady on November 17, 2014

Greetings Evil HR Lady,

I’m having an issue at my job, and I need your advice. I’m a new and just out of school, so I don’t make as much money as the  other administrators in the building. Since I started my job August 2014 I’ve been asked to donate $10 to the for my direct boss’s birthday, $20 for the department head’s birthday, $20 for the director’s surprise party for being voted “employee of the year,” and lastly $10 for a co-worker who received an award. I just met these people in August so they aren’t friends/loved ones, they’re just associates. Not to mention I graduated from grad school May 2013 and I’m just landing a job. I’m digging myself out debt, and every penny I make I’m using it to gain financial freedom. I have voiced this to the other administrators, but their response is, “well can you give $10″ or “that’s not a lot of money.” I’m tried of this crap, please advise!!!!!

I wish I could fix this problem once and for all. I have no problem with office collections for various things–many people are happy to give and many people enjoy them. What I have a problem with is other people assuming they have a right to your money.

See, for some people, $20 is not a really big deal, and since it’s not, they should happily donate $20 to the gift fund if they want to give someone a gift. But, these people sometimes forget that $20 is a big deal for other people. And here’s the real kicker–just because you know somebody’s paycheck doesn’t give you insight into their actual financial situation. Someone making $20,000 a year may have a spouse that makes $100,000, while someone else making $40,000 a year may be the sole income for a family, have a mortgage, car payment and student loans. So, even with twice the salary, a $20 gift is a big deal.

I’d like to solve your problem by passive aggressive ways, such as you sending me an email with all their Twitter handles, and then I could tweet this article at them. ” Thought you might need this! Thx, bye!” Hmmm, maybe that’s a service I can start offering. “Hey, this article applies to you!” I’ll be rich!

Ahem, anyway. I’d prefer it if companies would institute policies where for group gifts, they pass around a card for EVERYONE to sign and anyone who wants to throw in $10 can. At the end, the gift is purchased based on the money received and every0ne in the department gets equal credit, regardless of whether or not they donated. “But!” I hear the self-appointed gift coordinators (and sometimes the boss appointed gift coordinators) complaining, “But, then we’d get $2.95 and a stick of old gum for birthday presents!”  That’s right and that should be a clue that maybe we shouldn’t be doing presents in the office. “And what,” they say in collective horror, “do we do if we gather $100 for John’s employee of the year party, and only $30 for Susan’s?” Again, a hint. People don’t want to do this and are only doing it because they are forced to do.

Here’s another thing wrong with the scenario you described above: You keep getting asked to buy presents for your bosses. This is not appropriate and the bosses should be putting a stop to it. Now, I can kind of see that the director being named employee of the year is a big deal if it’s a big company and it’s a real, honest, award. But, again, if the company thinks he’s so awesome, they should spring for a cake. (Chocolate, maybe with raspberry filling, although, really brownies are always a better choice for any part I’m invited to you.)

But, none of this helps you because you aren’t the decision maker and you are new here. So, you need to play some politics. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I don’t contribute?” This is a serious question, because in some cases, you don’t contribute no one will really care, but, in other cases, you run the risk of offending the party coordinator, who happens to have an inexplicable amount of power. She will make your life a living hell.

Most likely things will lie somewhere in the middle and it might work to have a private conversation with the party coordinator. Try this, “Jane, I’m really glad that Heather won this award. However, I am on a strict budget–student loans, you know, and I just don’t have the spare cash for a present. I’d be happy to help decorate or something, but I’m out of cash.” If she tries to pressure you to “pay her later,” the response should be, “I’m sorry, I just can’t.”

The reality is, people like this might push you for a reason, and even though you have great ones (new to the workforce, student loans, don’t know these people well) you shouldn’t be required to give one. You can channel Miss Manners, “I’m sorry, it won’t be possible.”  “Because it won’t be possible.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

If there’s another newby on staff, you might be able to pull her into this protest with you.

And a note to all bosses and party coordinators: stop this. And if you’re the boss, stop accepting, encouraging or hinting for presents. You GIVE presents as the boss. You should not receive them.