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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Workers were fired by robocall

by Evil HR Lady on November 17, 2014

Commentary

Firing someone is one of the most difficult tasks a manager has to face. When you have to fire a lot of people, it’s not only emotionally difficult for the manager, but also a potential logistical nightmare. Hoping to, for instance, keep rumors from flying around, employers prefer not let a great deal of time elapse between when the first and last person is notified of the job loss.

Ford Motor (F) recently had to dismiss about 100 workers at a Chicago assembly plant, which is a pretty good sized group. But rather than deal with scheduling or having managers go through the difficult task of sitting down with each individual, they used the telephone. The phone isn’t the preferable way to terminate someone, but sometimes it’s necessary.

Yet Ford went one step further and used robocalls to notify people that they were losing their jobs. That’s right. Ford terminated nearly 100 people via a recording — on Halloween.

To keep reading about how Ford is competing for worst HR practices of the year, click here: Workers were fired by robocall

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Should You Fill Out That HR Survey

by Evil HR Lady on November 14, 2014

Hi Evil HR Lady,

We’ve just received word from our HR team that we’re being asked to participate in a workplace job satisfaction survey. It was made clear in the email that the emails we received contained unique survey codes for each recipient. The statement from the HR team was that this code would only be used for aggregate statistical information. However, having a background in sending commercial email, it’s highly likely that the unique survey code and questions could be traced back to my individual email address (and ultimately back to me). 

The question is, knowing that the HR team could trace my individual survey back to me, should I participate in the survey at all? I’m concerned they are specifically looking to target unhappy individuals by helping them to the door faster. I also know that lying on the survey to make it look like everything is great is really no better. Personally, I’m not particularly fond of the idea of this survey in the first place as I don’t know how many people would be truly honest.

Should I participate? If so, what kinds of responses should I give them?

Well, here’s the thing. You’re absolutely right about them being able to trace the answers back. The question is, will they. If it’s being done by an outside firm (which is probably is, I doubt your HR team is sophisticated enough to pull this off without an outside firm), there is a big chance that your HR department truly never will see anything but aggregate data.

That said, let’s talk about aggregate data. Once upon a time, I managed a small department with 4 direct reports. My manager wanted me to undergo a 360 evaluation, which was fine. My direct reports were assured that their responses would be 100 percent anonymous. And they were. Except for the part that they broke down the results by exempt and non-exempt employees. I had 3 exempt direct reports and one non-exempt direct report. Oops, her answers are no longer anonymous. And then with 3 exempt employees? How hard is it to figure out who is saying what? Not hard at all. Especially since they included the “long form” answers on my report. I worked with these people every day. It wasn’t at all difficult to tell who said what.

Now, either I’m a manager that walked on water (pats self on back) or my direct reports were all smart enough to know that I would be able to figure out who was saying what and did the appropriate sucking up. They were smart, savvy techy HR people who undoubtedly figured out that if they were mean it could come back to bite them. (That said, none of them were mean people, they were all awesome. Best department ever.)

And even though this a a company wide survey, when they break it down, it may not be difficult to tell. “Here we have the marketing department at the Nobsville facility broken down by race and gender!” Yeah, there goes your anonymity.

So my point (and I do have one) is that even if HR is being honest that it will all be anonymous, depending on how they break the data down, it may be blatantly obvious who said what.

So, should you participate? Absolutely. They are probably tracking your email address and you’ll get bugged until you respond. But what should you say? Only what you would say to your boss’s face.

Not enough vacation? Absolutely, comment on that.

Pay below market average? Absolutely comment on that.

You’re blissfully  happy with your work-life balance? Tell the truth.

Your relationship with your  manager? Errrr, be as honest as you can be without being rude. Remember, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Because, unless you have 40 co-workers who all have the same job title, it may be broken down to identifiable levels.

Because if your boss is a jerk, him finding out that his employees think he’s a jerk is unlikely to make him take a deep look at his management techniques and make major changes. No, he’s likely to go full out monster on you. You don’t need that.

I love surveys. I love data. (See that Techy HR person thing above.) I would love to have an employee survey that was 100 percent honest, but I also totally understand that you’ve got to look out for yourself. So, my advice? Honest on company wide policies, and polite on departmental practices.

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5 Ways to Put the Human Back in Human Resources

by Evil HR Lady on November 14, 2014

Once you get past the stage of hiring your college buddies to help with your new start up, people often switch to Applicant Tracking Systems, or use recruiters that rely on these systems. These systems are great at tracking applicants, but they lack that human element. I spoke with Rona Borre, CEO and founder of hiring and recruiting firm Instant Alliance about how to keep the human side of things in today’s highly technical recruiting environment.

1. Don’t rely strictly on a machine. Computers only do exact. They don’t do subtlety, Borre says. Never forget that you are dealing with human capital. If you rely strictly on a machine you’ll miss out on a ton of amazing talent.

To keep reading, click here: 5 Ways to Put the Human Back in Human Resources

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Force them to fire you!

by Evil HR Lady on November 13, 2014

Seriously, people, force your employer to fire you. It’s rarely to your advantage to resign under pressure rather than being fired. Recruiters are going to ask why you left without a new job lined up anyway.

Read these:

And do not write a letter of resignation without a signed legal document stating clearly what you get in exchange for that document.
Sorry for the mini rant. I just got 3 emails today with the SAME problem.
And if you’re the boss? Just go ahead and fire the person (with severance).

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