Employment Law Attorneys
Podcast: Employment Tips From A Manager: Becoming a Great Employee

Podcast: Employment Tips From A Manager: Becoming a Great Employee

Employment Tips From A Manager: Becoming a Great Employee: In this episode of the Employee Survival Guide, Mark shares important employment tips from a manager on how to become a great employee.  These employment tips from a manager are gathered from real life employment law cases Mark has litigated and from his years managing employees at his office.  These employment tips from a manager include the following:

Treat Every Work-Day Like It Was Your First Day on the Job

Bad Habits and Practices Are Always Discovered

It’s Still a Privilege to Work for a Company

Don’t Discriminate

When Your Boss Gives You a Goal, Don’t Assume it is the Ceiling–it may be the floor

You’re An Adult, Act Like One at Work

Additional Links to further information mentioned in the podcast:

the-7-habits

Fight Or Flight Response

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule

The Employee Survival Guide is a podcast only for employees. We will share with you all the information your employer does not want you to know about and guide you through various important employment law issues. The goal of the Employee Survival Guide podcast is to provide you with critical insights about your employment and give you the confidence to protect your job and career, especially during difficult times.

Your Host Mark Carey

The Employee Survival Guide podcast is hosted by seasoned Employment Law Attorney Mark Carey, who has only practiced in the area of Employment Law for the past 25 years.  Mark has seen just about every type of employment dispute there is and has filed several hundred lawsuits in state and federal courts around the country, including class action suits.  He has a no frills and blunt approach to employment issues faced by millions of workers nationwide. Mark endeavors to provide both sides to each and every issue discussed on the podcast so you can make an informed decision.

Employee Survival Guide Podcast is Like No Others

The Employee Survival Guide podcast is just different than other lawyer podcasts! How?  Mark hates “lawyer speak” used by lawyers and just prefers to talk using normal everyday language understandable to everyone, not just a few.  This podcast is for employees only because no one has considered conveying employment information directly to employees, especially information their employers do not want them to know about.  Mark is not interested in the gross distortion and default systems propagated by all employers, but targets the employers intentions, including discriminatory animus, designed to make employees feel helpless and underrepresented within each company.  Company’s have human resource departments which only serve to protect the employer. You as an employee have nothing!  Well, now you have the Employee Survival Guide to deal with your employer.

Through the use of quick discussions about individual employment law topics, Mark easily provides the immediate insight you need to make important decisions.  Mark also uses dramatizations based on real cases he has litigated to explore important employment issues from the employee’s perspective.  Both forms used in the podcast allow the listener to access employment law issues without all the fluff used by many lawyers.

If you enjoyed this episode of the Employee Survival Guide please like us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.  We would really appreciate if you could leave a review of this podcast on your favorite podcast player such as Apple Podcasts.

For more information Employment Tips From A Manager: Becoming a Great Employee, please contact Carey & Associates, P.C. at 203-255-4150, www.capclaw.com or email at info@capclaw.com.

The content of this website is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship.  Carey & Associates, P.C. makes no warranty, express or implied, regarding the accuracy of the information contained on this website or to any website to which it is linked to.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting To Be Fired–Severance Negotiation

Podcast: Employment Tips From A Manager: Becoming a Great Employee

Employment Tips From A Manager: Becoming a Great Employee

By Mark Carey

If you have been around the workplace as long as I have, you can definitely separate out good and bad employee behavior.  I have litigated both sides of employment cases for the past 25 years and currently act as a manager in my office for the past several years.  I offer the following tips to keep you moving in a positive direction and becoming a great employee.

Treat Every Work-Day Like it Was Your First Day on The Job

Do you remember the first day of any new job you started?  Yes, the feeling of newness, new colleagues, escape from the old rigid culture of your last job; it was a new relationship and the honeymoon just started.   You went “all in” and you were generally excited about the new gig.  You felt you belonged in this company and you walked around like you owned it.  Fast forward two or three years later, now you are settled in and comfortable in your new surroundings at work. You have new work friends and your employer is acknowledging your positive performance.  But then something unexpected/expected happened, “you’ve lost that loving feeling” about your job and it has turned into just another job where you look forward to time off away from work.  Overall, you are doing just the right amount, in comparison to your work colleagues, and you are just getting by.  What happened?  Where did the mojo go?   If you are not careful, your ambivalence may get the best of you as employers do notice; it’s the employer’s job to take notice of all employee behavior.  I suggest you do a reset and figure out what made you so happy about your job when you first started working for the company. Are you falling back on bad habits from your prior work history?  Take a fresh look at your advancement opportunities within the company and how you can create more equity and more compensation for yourself.  If you cannot, then maybe it is time to move on.

Bad Habits and Practices Are Always Discovered

I have this superpower, I can determine exactly why an employee or executive client was terminated from the last position, regardless of the explanation offered by the employer and the client.  When I receive a new case from a client I request a detailed factual narrative about their employment leading up to the termination.  Although I only ask for facts and not conclusions, we get a one sided emotion filled story from the client. When the facts are compared to the employer’s version of the events, you can sparse out the clients with good claims and those clients who maintained bad work habits that eventually got them fired.  Bad work habits can be anything from being argumentative, tardiness, insubordination, lack of attention to detail, conducting personal affairs on business time, only doing the bare minimum, not seizing opportunities to market the company’s services, etc.  The worst habit is not knowing you are following your bad habits.   Why do employees self-sabotage and why can’t they see the warning signs in advance?  I can only offer a partial answer as part of the problem lies in the psychology of the employee which is outside the scope of my pay grade.  We all have habits, good ones and bad ones.  Accordingly, good habits are formed over 21 days (Steven Covey- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). But bad habits are formed over a lifetime and can be changed or unlearned.  Try reading Covey’s book.  I would also suggest the book Designing Your Life by two Stamford University Engineering Professors, which is based on the number one class at the university.

It’s Still a Privilege to Work for a Company

Until you are financially well off and lucky enough to start your own business, you have to work for someone else.  When you apply for a new job, you are applying for the privilege to work for a company.  That privilege is controlled by the employer, who can take it away at a moments notice.  Notice, I did not say you are “entitled” to work for your employer because you are not.  But when employees start a new job they begin the psychological disconnecting process veering away from respecting the privilege to work for the company to an entitlement mentality.  I think we all know what I am talking about.  I see it all the time, especially when the ax falls and the work identify is severed from the individual.  Some say, “that job was my life” or “how can they do this to me after twenty years of dedicated service” and on an on.  Now do you see the entitlement ideology that many employees create.  It is still a privilege to work for the company, even after twenty years.  Some employees seem to have forgotten this very basic element of the contractual employment at-will relationship they have with their employers.  It was the same when you started and it was the same when you were fired.  Wake up and respect the privileged situation you have and throw out the other garbage in your head that confused you that your job was no longer a privilege—that it was yours and no one could take it away.  As an employment attorney/part-time armchair psychologist, I see this pattern and behavior in many employees.  If you heed this simple consideration, you will improve your overall performance, receive more respect amongst your work colleagues and your boss, your individual attention to your job will be enhanced and you may just begin to enjoy your job at a much deeper level.   Don’t ever lose this focus.

Don’t Discriminate

Need I say anything more?  Unfortunately, this issue boils down to human nature.  I am constantly thinking about this issue and why some employees engage in unlawful discriminatory behavior.  Aside from the existence of real discriminatory bias, this is what I have concluded over twenty-five years of practicing as an employment attorney.   Employees are hard wired for “fight or flight” at work and everywhere else.  I call it the “crazy brain mentality”.  Part of your brain is rational, empathetic and thoughtful, but the other wild side of your brain only seeks to self-promote, judge others who appear different than you, acting selfishly, reacting in a defensive posture, etc. This protective layer is cast out in an effort to protect employees against some form of “harm” they believe may come to them.  What is the solution here?  Simple, “audi alteram partem” which is a Latin phrase for “listen to the other side”.   Listening means giving respect, even though you do not agree with the other person.  But the more you listen, learn and digest how the other employee views the same reality, it will cut off your crazy brain from activation and allow your rational side of your brain to become more empathetic, sincere, understanding etc. even though you maintain a polar opposite point of view.  The smartest and most successful position to attain is the one that truly reflects both positions with rationales for and against both, with a little bit of the right amount of humor to defuse the hostility.  Right now in today’s workforce, and as a society as a whole, listening to the other side is altogether absent or is intentionally ignored in favor of drama and destructive ideologies based on the color of your skin, your gender or your age!  Remember, listen more and react less. Throw a little bit of the golden rule on top of that and you should be good to go.

When your boss gives you a goal, don’t assume it is the ceiling- it may be the floor

Goals are important and carefully crafted goals are critical to how and if your team follows those goals. I see many employees only seek to hit the bare minimum and forget that they actually can over achieve a goal.  A goal is only a floor and not ceiling.  Do not ever forget that your employer is watching you and does take notice of slackers, team players and overachievers.  Which one are you?  Remember, working is a privilege, not an entitlement.

You’re An Adult, Act Like One at Work

You would be surprised how ridiculous grown men and women act in the workplace.  I personally view the American workplace as a cesspool of maldeveloped psychologies that come together everyday with unbridled umbrage over people, internal fiefdoms, status, money etc. Remember the playground antics and bullies when you were in grade school? Yes, those memories!   Well, all those nasty malcontents are now adults and no one ever told them to grow up nor trained them about how to be an adult at work.   Do me a favor, please follow the golden rule, it will save your job, your career and your sanity.  It will also save you from hiring an employment lawyer like myself to undo what you created all on your own.

If you need more information about this article or want to discuss your employment with an employment attorney, please call Carey & Associates, P.C. at call (203) 255-4150 or email to info@capclaw.com.  Thank you and be safe and well.

 

What’s Your Job Strategy In The Face of the New Recession?

What’s Your Job Strategy In The Face of the New Recession?

What’s Your Job Strategy In The Face of the New Recession?

The next recession is now here, depending on the of source of information or this source.  The Federal Reserve is reversing interest rate hikes to soften the economic expansion and the unemployment rate is at a 50 year low.  We are well past the cyclical ten year timeframe as recessions go.  What is your strategy to preserve your job in the face of this new recession? What is your strategy if and when you are laid off?

You are probably thinking, “what strategy?” You get up, go to work and hope you can continue to remain an at-will employees until the end of the new pay period, under the presumption you have no control over your job. Better yet, you planned on retiring from your company in the distant future.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are employees who think their longevity with their employers will insulate them from any headcount reductions during recessions.  Both viewpoints are wrong and employees can control their employment outcomes during a recession.

5 Strategies To Save Your Job During a Recession

The following strategies are followed by our clients when they see the “writing on the wall” by their managers. Although some clients never see the messaging from their employer, we do.  Depending on how soon you pick up all the clues determines which strategy to pursue.  Hint, the sooner you speak with an employment attorney the better.  If we are engaged earlier in the process, we can evaluate and develop an aggressive strategy that will force the employer to maintain your employment and/or pay a larger severance package with more favorable terms.

  1. Plan Ahead and Gather Intelligence From Managers and Coworkers

Are you proactive about your employment or do you follow the wait and see approach?  Becoming proactive with your employer means obtaining objective feedback from your managers and coworkers.  No, I am not referring to the annual performance review or 360 reviews.  A proactive employee will develop an initial assessment of his or her own performance by quietly engaging in one on one discussions with managers and coworkers about their working relationship and performance. You will need to keep detailed notes of these conversations in order to track the information over time and over various contexts.   Forget about the formalities of the annual review or the vague performance metrics employers follows.  I am talking about all the intel you can gather by having a straight up ever day conversation with your manager and coworkers.  Examine the body cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice and the context of conversations in relation to those cues.  Observe more instead of being reactionary or defensive.  The better you are at this task, the more intelligence you will pick up, as your manager or coworker will not know you are gathering information. Once you collected this information, you will need to strategize how to position yourself as a thought leader, influencer, leader and over-all get the job done kind of employee.  Lead by example and always remain the consummate professional during all interactions with your employer and coworkers.

Ironically, your employer is collecting similar information about you and your coworkers. In a recent article from SHRM, “A good way to begin is by collecting information about the organization’s workforce that can be used for long-range planning. ‘[HR] should be looking at the data, knowing who is where in their careers, who is where in their teams’… ‘Are people ready to move into the next position? Are they happy where they are?’ Review job descriptions and tasks and determine whether responsibility for those tasks can be more evenly distributed throughout the team. By understanding the big picture, HR leaders can advise business leaders on how to ready the workforce for future changes without resorting to morale-damaging layoffs.”

  1. File Internal Complaints of Discrimination to Maintain Your Job

Once we determine you are may be the victim of employment discrimination or have other employment claims, we will advise you about bringing these claims to your employers attention without escalating to an external governmental agency.  The main idea here is to engage in a protective activity to force your employer to “back the heck off” and cause them to reevaluate your potential termination.  Our longest standing record to keep an employee employed using this method is two years (my opposing counsel in that case was not happy, but I was not there to please him).

If necessary, you may need to file your discrimination claims with governmental agencies in order to preserve your legal rights.  The same antiretaliation laws apply and employers will back off for a limited period of time in order to avoid you asserting an easy to prove retaliation claim.

  1. Dealing With Performance Improvement Plans (PIPS)

Combatting those inaccurate, one-sided and self-serving performance improvement plans. We wrote about this issue in Are Performance Improvement Plans (PIPS) Illegal?  A PIP is a clear indicator you will be terminated and you will need to engage an employment attorney ASAP!

  1. Severance Negotiation Based Years of Service

This strategy is relatively straight forward.  If you are slated for termination in a layoff, your employer may have a severance plan governed by ERISA, a federal statute that governs these plans.  Essentially, an ERISA severance plan spells out the amount you will be paid a salary continuation based on the number of years you worked for the company.  There is one catch, you will need to sign a waiver and release of all your legal claims against the employer in order to receive the payout.  You will also need an employment attorney to review the settlement agreement to insert favorable terms or get rid of unfriendly terms like noncompetition agreements.  Make sure when speaking with an employment attorney that he or she is an ERISA attorney, as there is a difference.  Our ERISA attorneys know how the statute works and will even point out in certain cases that you can create an ERISA plan based on one employee, “you”, even though the employer never created an ERISA plan.  Engage us to learn more.

  1. Getting Rid of That Noncompete Agreement on the Way Out

Great, you will be getting terminated but your employer stuck you with a noncompete, either at the start of your job or as part of the severance agreement. What do you do?  The noncompete does not benefit you at all, only your employer.  Now you have to navigate away from jobs you would normally apply for given your years in the same industry.  Is this fair? No.  Someone has to pay the utilities, mortgage and household expenses, but do not count on your employer to do you a favor. I have long taken a stand against these selfish one sided agreements and forced employers to rescind them or obtain an order from the court to void them.  We can help you remove your noncompete agreement with your employer and make you a free agent in the job market.  We will challenge the validity of the agreement with the employer directly and if the employer does not back down, we will take them to court through what is called a declaratory judgment action. Essentially, we ask courts to void the agreement due to lack of intention by the employee to enter into the agreement, aka a lack of consideration.

What’s Your Job Strategy In The Face of the New Recession? If you need more help planning for your future employment issues, please contact an employment attorney in our office. Employment law is all we do. Email to info@capclaw.com or call 203-255-4150.

COVID-19 CANCELS ALL NONCOMPETE AGREEMENTS DUE TO IMPOSSIBILITY

Controlling the Psychology of Working to Your Advantage

Controlling the Psychology of Working to Your Advantage

Controlling the Psychology of Working to Your Advantage

No one discusses the psychology of work and the enormous role it plays in your everyday life.  I have researched and watched this issue for more than twenty years, from discrimination bias to contract negotiation.  I comb through client fact patterns looking for every psychological angle emanating from all the cast of characters in order to position the client to achieve success or to resolve a dispute. Why aren’t you doing this?

The Psychology of Your Manager

I know you think you know your manager, but I doubt you really know how your manager thinks and what motivates them. Psychology plays a direct and important role in such things as how your manager makes decisions regarding what jobs or tasks to assign employees and your career advancement.   Managers evaluate employee strengths and weaknesses, i.e. perceived psychology, and selectively assign tasks.  Employees are also chosen to advance based on their perceived psychology about whether they will be effective in handling the responsibilities of the new position. If you are blind to the role of psychological analysis, get your head out of the sand and in the game! Think of your job like a chess or strategy game, you need to consider every conceivable variable that will impact your chosen goals, both positively and negatively.  If you are not evaluating your opponent, i.e. your boss or coworker, you will not advance in your current position or your career.  I am not asking you to confront your boss with your new found psychological intelligence, keep it to yourself and use it to guide you when making critical decisions to your benefit. Successful employees and executives do this every day.

Here is what to look for when evaluating your boss’s psychology in order to gain an advantage:

(1) Evaluate facial and body cues that may show a degree of nervousness or over aggressive micromanaging (polar opposites), facial and body cues are one of the most important signals to read when assessing your opponent. (2) Examine the person’s prior work conduct toward yourself and other employees and the reaction those individuals had in relation to the decision being made. Was there a consistent logic flow or arbitrary selection decision making process without basis? (3) Go beyond the email language and check if the person really intended what was stated, email can be misleading. (4) Examine the individuals the person promotes and if they are a logical fit or the result of office favoritism and worse, discrimination. (5) Examine the potential for personal issues being brought to the office and determine if they are playing a role in the person’s work life. This list is by no means exhaustive of the possible variables impacting your opponent’s decision making.

The Psychology of Your Coworkers and Yourself

When you arrive at work, you walk into an office workspace filled with a multitude of personal psychologies.  There is no control other than the corporate mind speak dished out by the company or what you believe the proper protocol to acting professional is.  There is no discussion about how to manage yourself or others while at work. Sure, there are rules regarding behavior, but in reality, employees are thrown into the workplace and are just expected to know how to act and react moment by moment. Short of being fired for poor misconduct, how do you navigate the psychological warfare of the office? The solution is to become aware or mindful of your interactions with co-workers, including supervisors, especially when you are having a bad day.  Take a week and just observe the behaviors of others but don’t be reactive, just observe.  While you’re observing various office behavior, listen to your inner voice, you know the voice that is talking inside your head right now as you read this.  The more you become aware of this inner voice, the more self-control you will have during moments you need it most.  That inner voice is the reactive brain and not your conscious brain, it just keeps on talking at you over and over all day long.  Listen to your conscious brain, the one you make decisions with and the one you use to learn new information. Notice that the conscious brain does not ramble on at you, it is more concise and logical, not dramatic and overblown. Another method of handling the office psychology is to observe the expectations you set for yourself and others. Stop working from those expectations and focus on the current issue you are experiencing.  Your own expectations may be causing the problem you may be experiencing but you just don’t know it.  We pre-imagine how events in our work life should result, but we never really think about how we created those expectations in the first place. When the crap hits the fan and our expectations are dashed, we tend to blame ourselves or others in a knee-jerk reaction.  We never stop to think about our own thought processes, we just accepted what our mind (inner voice vs. conscious mind) said to us. As employment attorneys, we confront the end product of psychology in the workplace and are requested to find solutions.

Controlling the Psychology of Working to Your Advantage.  If you would like more information about this issue, please contact our employment lawyers at Carey & Associates PC at 203-255-4150 or email to info@capclaw.com.

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A Few Very Good Reasons Why You Can’t Trust Your Employer

A Few Very Good Reasons Why You Can’t Trust Your Employer

A Few Very Good Reasons Why You Can’t Trust Your Employer

We all build relationships based on trust.  Some relationships require more trust than others. For example, marriage, medical professionals and hiring lawyers.  We all take the time to explore whether these relationships are the right fit for us.  We even memorialize these important, sometimes life-changing, relationships with contractual agreements.  But when it comes to the relationship with your employer, you might as well start hand feeding piranhas.

Meet Your Antagonist: Your Employer

An antagonist is someone who actively opposes or is hostile to another; an adversary.  Does this describe your current or former employer? In my role as the employment attorney, I do not hear very many people say they trust their employers. In fact, the opposite is true.  According to a Harvard Business Review article, “In both your personal life and your work life, you’re bound to encounter people who take advantage of you, and these painful experiences can make you cynical.”
You have several reasons to be cynical about your employment relationship.  Your employer is not interested in whether you are happy at work, fulfilled in your career aspirations, concerned about your personal responsibilities at work or anything remotely realistic to a nurturing relationship.  In fact many employees have a low level of trust in their employers.  The 2016 Trust Barometer report from Edelman revealed that a third of employees do not trust their employers. Employees reported a lack of engagement, short term profit seeking, lack of belief in the company mission, poor product quality, unethical behavior, bad corporate reputation, invisible CEOs and lack of corporate communication to employees.

At-will Employment is Bad for You

When you are employed at-will, as most of you are, you might as well be on a first date for the next several years.  You would think that after knowing your employer for three or more years, you’d just settle down and get engaged to be married. However this is not so.  Unless you have a coveted and rare employment contract with a “for cause” termination provision, your employer can bounce you with little or no notice.  Many of you have felt this scorned feeling from prior jobs.  So where is the trust in the at-will workplace if you can never predict your future with a reasonable certainty on a day-to-day basis? There is none.  Ouch!

Somehow, we have just grown accustomed to this dysfunctional at-will relationship and let employers manipulate us with unenforced corporate codes of conduct, lofty corporate double speak and fear.

Management by Fear Does Not Create Trust

The most common corporate management practice today is to maintain a consistent level of passive-aggressive practices which propagate employee fear and insecurity. From my vantage point, I see a persistent pattern by employers accusing employees of subjective performance issues while their objective performance criteria are “meets” or “exceeds expectation”.  Employers use performance management techniques such as performance improvement plans and coaching to force out undesirable employees.  No one ever remains long after being managed this way. I also see cases of overt ruthless conduct, where a supervisor discriminates against pregnant employees as having “baby brain.” Saying things like, “I don’t want another woman working on the desk” or “If you’re being honest with yourself, do you really think you could do this job?”  And the comments get even worse. “I don’t want to hear any complaining from you, you and [spouse] did this to yourselves.” Only a supervisor with intentions to rid themselves of pregnant employees will make discriminatory statements like this to push the employee to quit out of fear of reprisal.

Discrimination Does Not Create Trust

The absence of trust becomes more noticeable when employees experience discrimination in the workplace or need to take time off due to health issues affecting themselves or a family member.  For these employees, their career with their particular employer has taken an abrupt turn for the worse.
For example, you become pregnant while employed and take a maternity/paternity leave under company policy and FMLA.  When you return, your job duties have changed and so has the person you reported to.  Pregnancy discrimination is one of the most perverse examples of a lack of trust an employee can encounter.  The employer has a maternity leave policy and you take a leave under said policy with no resistance.  However, upon returning to work you face pregnancy discrimination when your employment is terminated.  The employer will jump at an opportunity to replace you rather than reinstate you.  We would all agree, this is not an ideal trust building experience at any company, yet pregnancy discrimination continues to persist.

If you complain to your employer about issues of discrimination or whistle blowing, you will immediately cause your employer not to trust you.  You have a legal and moral right to complain about these issues, but do not expect reciprocation from your employer.  You just threw yourself off or under the company bus.  This equals your spouse cheating on you and then pointing the finger at you as the cause for why they had the affair.  Your employer’s Human Resources Department will not help you when you are down and have complaints about coworkers or your supervisor.  I am sure the folks in HR are nice people, but their “job” is to protect the employer, not you! Don’t make the mistake in confiding with human resource personnel, unless absolutely necessary to build a case for retaliation.

Arbitration and Noncompete Agreements Don’t Create Trust

Arbitration and non-competition agreements and employer trust are like oil and water with a sprinkling of gasoline for added flare.  The U.S. Supreme Court’s further endorsement of employer arbitration agreements cemented in stone the future of employee litigation and the permanent role of arbitration in your career. Listen, don’t be fooled, arbitration agreements are bad for you, your rights, your claims, the economy and are only good for employers.  Noncompetition agreements are even a better example of a lack of employer trust.  When your employer is finished with you and terminates your employment, they sink a big fishing hook in you and reel you back in at their whim each time you land a new position.  The employer cries foul, complaining you are single handedly destroying the company via working for the competitor.  These two forms of employment agreements represent the worst in every company that mandates them.  An arbitration agreement is a tool to conceal bad corporate acts from employment attorneys like myself and non-competition agreements are used to threaten competitive employers in the market place.

Rise Up and Demand More Trust

It is time to call an end to bad corporate practices- the deceit, the greed, the lies and the double speak.  Employees should demand more from their employers.  Rise up and unite together and tell your employer you would trust them only if they demonstrated trust to you first.  Trust begets trust.
Have questions or think you’ve been discriminated against at work?

A Few Very Good Reasons Why You Can’t Trust Your Employer. Let our employment law attorney’s help you get justice, contact Carey & Associates PC at 203-255-4150 or email to info@capclaw.com.

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10 Things You Should Know About Employment in Connecticut

10 Things You Should Know About Employment in Connecticut

10 Things You Should Know About Employment in Connecticut

1. Employers Can Give Bad References, Just Not False Ones

Employers no longer give references for former employees, so stop worrying.  Employers fear being sued for defamation or claims for negligent hire. The majority if not all employers will provide prospective employers and their recruiters with your dates of employment, position, and possibly salary. The employer will not provide the reason(s) for termination.  However, if you hear your former employer said they would not recommend for rehire, that is code language that you are a poor employee. The only exception I can think of is if you and your employer are FINRA registered members, i.e. brokerages and licensed employees in the financial industry.  FINRA regulated employers are required to provide the reason for termination in the employee’s U-5 record.

2. Connecticut Employees Allowed 16 Weeks Unpaid FMLA Leave

Under the Connecticut Family Leave Act, employees are entitled to take up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave. Connecticut law provides for an additional 4 weeks on top of the federal FMLA (12).  Employees should ask there employers if they have short term disability benefits to coincide with the 16 weeks of leave.  A typical STD plan provides for six months of paid leave at 60% of the employees base pay. Nothing is guaranteed, and the employer will not volunteer the information. Employees in need of a leave of absence must self-advocate for their rights and document all their requests in writing. Remember, your job is protected during the FMLA, but if you fail to return before your leave ends, you will lose your job.

3. Connecticut Employees Have a Right to Personnel Files

Connecticut employees are entitled to a complete and accurate copy of their personnel files, including a copy of their supervisor’s version of their file.  All the employee has to do is make a written request via email to the HR department and the employer must provide a copy of the file within 30 days.  If the employer refuses, please contact the CT Department of Labor and register a complaint.

4. An Unfair Employment Termination is Not Necessarily Illegal

Listen, employers can be really mean and behave in very unfriendly ways. However, just because the employer is a pain in the butt and trying to make your life miserable, this does not mean the employer’s actions are illegal.  Employers do not care about employees, so get over it. Your job cannot be your identity.  You are an “at will” employee and you should never assume your job is secure, even if you worked for the company for 10 years.  In order to determine if your employer’s action to terminate you were illegal, you would need to speak to our employment attorneys.  A quick 15 minute call to our office will flesh out the legal issues and permit us to determine if you were fired unlawfully.

5. Independent Contractors Have Rights Too

You may not know it, but if you are an independent contractor you are still protected against unlawful employment actions such as discrimination.  You should also investigate if your employer is correctly classifying you as an independent contractor (IRS Form 1099) or regular employee (IRS Form W-2). We see a lot of employees misclassified as independent contractors when they should be regular workers. Employees fear challenging the employer on this classification because they believe they will lose their contract.  If you are in doubt, call the CT Department of Labor or call our office to speak with an employment attorney.  Also search the internet in Connecticut for the “ABC Test for Independent Contractors.” You can also search the IRS.gov website for the same information.

6. The Legal Effect of Quitting Your Job

Don’t ever quit your job!  You cannot collect unemployment benefits.  Also, it is too difficult to prove your voluntary job termination was a “constructive discharge”. The facts must show a series of recent events that violate state and federal law and that any reasonable person would also quit.  If you are in a tight bind where your employer is giving you the writing on the wall treatment to get out, speak to an employment attorney in our office first.  We will deter you from quitting and will advise you to leave your job through the signing of a separation agreement which includes a severance payment for your service with the company as a result of unlawful treatment.

7. Employees with Criminal Records Are Protected

Under Connecticut law, employers cannot refuse to hire or terminate an employee because of a criminal record. Obviously, each case is different, so you will need to contact an employment attorney in our office to figure out if you are protected.

8. You May Have a Legal Right to Severance Pay

Employees employed in Connecticut may have a legal right to severance pay.  If the employer maintains a severance plan governed by ERISA (federal regulation), employees working in Connecticut are considered participants and entitled to severance pay pursuant to the plan document.  The one condition to receive severance pay set forth in every ERISA severance plan is that the employee must signed a general release of claims.  How do you know you company has a severance plan? You can check your internal human resource portal or employee handbook.  All ERISA severance plans have to be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.  Years ago I found this free website where you can research your employer. Insert the employer’s name in the site and go through the various plans listed. You are looking for a plan labeled with the word “severance” in it.  The plan severance plan code is “4i”.  If you find it listed, then you know a severance plan exists. Once you have identified your employer’s severance plan, make a written request to the Human Resources Department for a copy of the severance plan.  The HR Department has a legal obligation to provide a copy of the severance plan within 30 days of your written request.  You will find in the plan the amount of severance pay based on your years of service with the employer.  Don’t leave money on the table, but chances are the employer will remind you about your benefits, as they have a fiduciary obligation to you as a plan participant.  If you need a severance attorney, call our office and speak with one of our employment attorneys.

9. How to Predict When You Are Getting Fired

Hmmm, try your gut instinct.  Are you getting the awful feeling that your boss and coworkers have turned on you?  You may have been a satisfactory performer last year, but this year your rating sunk or needs improvement.  Or, you made a complaint to your supervisor or HR about your wages or unlawful discriminatory treatment, and suddenly your once friendly work place is not so friendly.  Maybe you just announced you are four months pregnant and you are getting the cold shoulder.  Worse, your supervisor makes pregnancy related comments and jokes.  Finally, if your coworkers and/or supervisors are openly hostile with you and use derogatory language directed at your gender, sexual orientation, race or age, then you know the crap just hit the fan and you need to speak to one of our employment attorneys.

10. Don’t Sign Anything When You Get Fired

Isn’t this obvious?  You should never sign anything when you leave your job. You should also not participate in any exit interview with the HR Department. No state or federal law mandates your participation in the exit interview.  What you need to do is speak with an employment attorney in our office who will figure out if the termination was lawful and whether the employer acted unlawfully prior to the termination date, i.e. demotions, discrimination, etc.
If anything mentioned above sounds like your current situation, or if you find yourself there in the future, Carey & Associates, P.C. can help! Our firm specializes in employment, wrongful termination, discrimination, whistleblowing, and more.

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Are Women Unequal in the Workplace?

Are Women Unequal in the Workplace?

Are Women Unequal in the Workplace?

It’s a fact, in the workplace women are seen as unequal. Of course no sane male employee will admit that to you. This is not because he would be politically incorrect in making such a remark, but because of some weird and nondescript force or code (man-code) he feels compelled to adhere to at all costs. (I obviously do not share in this dysfunction).  This phenomenon is real and has a tight hold on the U.S. workforce.  Yes, I could use the word gender discrimination or some similar phrase like unequal pay, but those concepts do not shed light on how to overcome the inequality. Those terms only equate to engaging in litigation, which is a slow, emotionally draining and a financially devastating road to follow.
Focus on pretty woman with colleagues talking in background
At the heart of the pay gap/promotion issue lies two socially inherent obstacles, bias and fear. Men hold the bias, most likely nurtured in them via family upbringing and culture. The bias is simple, men are better than women and thus should be paid more.  This bias is real as represented in the statistics mentioned below.  And women hold the fear, equally nurtured via family upbringing and culture.  Women fear challenging men to get what they deserve.  This is not to say that all men and all women hold these same characteristics, but enough of them do given the current statistics below.
On a positive note, the pay inequality issue may be transforming on its own.  According to the BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/)), in 2012 women earned 81% of the median wages of men. I presume this applies to working women of all ages up to retirement age.  However, the pay gap is smaller for younger women in the age range of 25-34 where the current ratio is 90%+.  For women in the age range of 45-54, the ratio is 75%, representing a possible age biased toward an older generation of female employees.  The BLS numbers indicate the gender income inequality issue may have a strong generational variable, where younger working women encounter less income inequality in comparison to men.  Pregnancy may play a lesser role in this younger generation, as the CDC reports that the mean age of women experiencing a first time birth is 26. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/births.htm) Previous income inequality explanations suggested pregnancy was one of the main culprits, but that appears to be changing. More women are working in the U.S. workforce than ever before, nearly 47% of the workforce is composed of women, and this number is projected to exceed 51% by 2018. (This information is based on 2010 data).  (http://www.dol.gov/wb/factsheets/Qf-laborforce-10.htm).  My opinion is that women should be paid 100% in comparison to men.

Women need a workable solution, not more statistics or more calls to action during the academy awards, which only draws more attention but does not solve the problem.   I have worked with or represented many women either in consultative employment counseling, litigating discrimination cases or contract severance negotiations.  I have mentally collected these work experiences and have some simple yet straight forward solutions to solve the gender pay gap.

Men need to promote more woman based on their performance, not their gender. I am confident women will feel appreciated and incentivized to improve the company bottom line.  That’s what women tell me.

Men need to pay women more based on their performance, not their gender, even if it means paying a wage equal to or higher than those paid to similarly qualified men.  I am confident women will feel appreciated and incentivized to improve the company bottom line.  Again, this is what women tell me.
And, everyone, men and women alike, should be allowed to work a flexible work schedule, which increases employee motivation and production quality for the real work companies want performed.  In my office, we have a flexible work schedule and the work is completed in a timely fashion and everyone, including myself, is happier! The stale and stringent 9-5 work hours needs to be tossed out the window. I have heard too many complaints over the years by clients regarding ridiculous and inflexible work schedules enforced by poorly managed (some FORTUNE 500) companies.

Women need to aggressively self-advocate for promotion and salary increases even at the risk of creating an impenetrable glass ceiling or worse losing their jobs.  Your employment (either at-will or term) is a contract that is constantly being renegotiated every day.  If you do not ask, you will not receive.  By professionally demanding a salary increase and promotion, you force your employer to tell you how they really feel about you and your performance.  If they say no, move on to a company that does appreciate your skills, experience and knowledge.

The bottom line is to become more proactive, assertive and never fear the negotiation to get what you deserve, instead embrace it. This applies equally to us all.

Are Women Unequal in the Workplace? If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Carey & Associates PC at 203-255-4150 or email to info@capclaw.com.

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Employers Are Addicted to Performance Reviews

Employers Are Addicted to Performance Reviews

Employers Are Addicted to Performance Reviews

The performance review is the most over prescribed management controlled substance on the market.  Hugely addictive among management users, wholly unsatisfying in every respect and just plainly unproductive.  This unregulated controlled substance wreaks havoc on employee psyche and generally impedes the natural growth of the business. I used the word “controlled” because every employer uses performance reviews to psychologically manipulate employees to instill fear and anxiety. In a majority of the cases I have handled, the review is a means to the end- to manage an employee out of the business.  Simply, this is the worst method of communication ever developed by man. The use of performance reviews must end and must be replaced with a better approach I will discuss in a moment.

In order to clear the air of any confusion, performance reviews exist in order to develop a defensible legal position against soon to be departing employees who turn around and sue their employers.  The review is not intended nor designed to improve your performance.  After working so many years now, you know when you are doing well and what performance items you need to work on.  A review is a nonsensical subjective management commentary that appears in writing prior to the termination, nothing more and nothing less. You should always file written rebuttal comments in your personnel file or emails to your manager in order to correct the factual record.  Performance reviews are like nasty emails you should never send, because they always come back to bite you in the ass.

My approach is simple and it is driven by an extremely active role taken by the employee/executive to communicate their expectations about what they want and determine how those expectations coincide with the company’s expectations: Communication = Listening + Acknowledgement + Action.
In order to be an effective person (not just at work) you need to embrace active listening. Avoid the tendency to interrupt the person you are communicating with and clear “filters” you normally apply.  Take time to listen to the other person, let them exhaust their train of thought or idea. Silent listening allows the other person to begin to feel empowered, open up to you, become vulnerable, and appear less guarded. You form a more meaningful connection without the use of any words! Be mindful of all your bodily contortions as you sit silently listening, as the other person is consciously and subconsciously reading your body cues and readjusting their communication with you. When you believe the other person has paused, then acknowledge (summarize) what they just said in order to reaffirm their position. Just don’t use the word “but…” as your first or tenth word when you summarize.  You need to truly engage in the other person’s thoughts, comments and ideas as if they were your own. Step into their shoes and wear them. Only then can you see both sides of the discussion, argument or whatever situation you are in.

Once you have heard the other side, you can take Action.  What I mean by taking action is to find solutions, choices, alternatives, examples etc. that permit both parties to form a bridge to a common understanding regarding each other’s expectations regarding any situation you are confronting.  You should absolutely refrain from any judgmental comments as this will surely turn the other listener away.  However, you should push the envelope and take chances that move the parties to a new position. This is where your thinking out of the box can really make changes that will create new opportunities with coworkers and management.

Now after reading this effective yet simple solution, do you really need a heavily subjective performance review?

Employers Are Addicted to Performance Reviews. If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Carey & Associates PC at 203-255-4150 or email to info@capclaw.com.

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You can control your work

You can control your work

You can control your work

I believe that people should be allowed the opportunity to manage themselves and take responsibility and control for their work situations. Instead of constantly looking behind their backs see when and if the company bus is going to run them over.  I agree that if you do not take responsibility for your own productivity, motivation, and professionalism, then you should be managed by others- until the day when you realize you can control your work life.  I believe people sometimes get stuck in their own inner feeling of fear of pushing themselves to succeed to do what they internally believe they are capable of.  I am sympathetic about overbearing supervisors and office politics, but to a point.

You need to begin thinking and acting like a person who works for themselves; one has responsibility for everything in the office from the mailing to client rainmaking.  Changing your outlook to realize that if you do not perform the task you will not get paid by the client or customer.  In doing so, you will become more realistic about your behaviors, bad habits and poor attitude. Outwardly, coworkers will begin to see you as the “go to person” who hustles! Who can complain about a coworker who gives a 115% to the job on a daily basis- and who appears to be having fun doing it.
But what stops you from succeeding to be what you want to be at work and to control work without worrying about what your boss or coworkers think about you?

You can control your work. Contact our employment lawyers at Carey & Associates PC and we can discuss how to get you moving forward in the right direction! info@capclaw.com.

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