I always enjoy your column and often apply the advice in my practice. However, with respect to the question from an employee who was terminated for sending an improper e-mail and wondered if he or she had a claim for wrongful dismissal: I wanted to point out that there might be a case if others of a different race, religion or age group were not fired when they also violated the same policy. A tough case, but there may be one. Also, given the claimant’s age, in New York City there are 300 days rather than 180 to apply to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and one year for New York state human-rights claims. Again, I enjoy your column and look forward to the practical battle-tested advice therein.
Thanks for clarifying for our readers, my loyal follower. I can’t lead if I am not willing to stand clarified, which I’m used to at home all the time. To make this crystal clear, an employer may impose different penalties to different employees who commit the same infraction. They may issue a lighter sentence for a top performer and a harsher penalty for a poor performer, or for a long-term employee versus a newbie. What the reader correctly points out is that you cannot levy different penalties due to protected reasons such as race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation.
I am being harassed by an executive, but he makes lewd comments only when no one is around, so it’s my word against his. I was thinking of recording him, but after all the recent news about it, I’m not so sure. What do you think?
First of all, I think the secret recording of conversations with colleagues generally is despicable, demonstrating a complete lack of ethics and morals and, in some states and companies, a violation of law and policy. That said, if you are doing so as an aid to exposing corruption or abuse, that is a different matter. I don’t think at the first sign of inappropriate conduct we should start wearing a wire, though. We should try to resolve things through the proper channels. However, if you are not getting any satisfaction, no one believes you and there is no other evidence to support your claim, turn Siri on and record the louse. You’ll be doing everyone a favor by exposing him.
Gregory Giangrande is a chief human resources and communications officer in the media industry. E-mail your career questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. His Go to Greg podcast series is available on iTunes.