Fridays with Frank – Oct 25, 2019

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Boo pumpkinsHappy friday!

How can Halloween be next week? So much happens at this time of year, but one of my favorite things is seeing dozens of children in costume running up our driveway. The excitement in their voices as they yell “trick or treat!” is the best! Whatever your plans, I hope you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

That’s frightful!  Speaking of Halloween, I suspect some employees may need a gentle reminder about boundaries for decorating and celebrating at the office. As my good friend Matthew Burr explains, seasonal office celebrations can offer fun opportunities for co-workers to engage, but there are pitfalls to avoid. If Halloween is a reason to celebrate where you work, here are a few suggestions to consider: Decorate with a few small pumpkins around the workplace, but avoid demons, goblins, and gore. Provide guidelines and examples of acceptable costumes, and take a hard stand against political, offensive, sexually suggestive, and otherwise inappropriate costumes. And finally, never require participation or allow anyone to retaliate or harass those who choose to avoid the festivities. Although some workplace rules may be relaxed for the day, it should never be an excuse for inappropriate behavior. 

“Notice” yet?  I agree it wasn’t my most clever play on words. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo signed legislation (significantly) amending the state’s Election Laws. The amended law requires employers to provide employees who are registered voters up to three (3) hours of paid time off to vote at either the beginning or end of their shift. Also, employers are required to post a Time Off to Vote Notice—at least 10 working days prior to election day—where employees will see it as they enter and leave the workplace. Employers can use the NYS sample form, or download a sample my team created.

Does context matter?  I’ve never been a fan of zero-tolerance policies, because they ignore context and, all too often, common sense. Think about a first-grader being suspended for bringing a spork to school in violation of a no-weapons policy. Or the story of Marlon Anderson, a black security guard at a Madison, WI high school. Last week Anderson was fired for using the N-word. The context? As Anderson was escorting a disruptive student (also black) out of the school, the student called him the N-word and used other obscene words. “Do not call me a (N-word),” Anderson said, except he used the word. After days of community outrage, a student protest, and a good dose of national attention, Anderson got his job back

Proper pronouns  According to a Pew Research survey, about 20% know someone who prefers a pronoun other than “he” or “she.” So, what happens when gender non-conformity becomes a workplace policy issue? Consider Peter Vlaming, a teacher who was fired for refusing to refer to a transgender male student by “he” and “him,” using the student’s name instead. According to court filings (the teacher is suing the school district), Vlaming “believes both as a matter of human anatomy and religious conviction that sex is biologically fixed,” so using male pronouns when referring to the student would violate his religious beliefs. I’ll be watching this, and similar cases and keep you updated.

Being a good boss  Happy belated boss’s day to all you bosses reading this! If you’re already planning the necessary strategies to get your own Edible Arrangement next year (thanks again, Lisa and Justin, it was delicious!), LinkedIn Learning wants to help. According to their survey results, overwhelmingly, people want a manager to help problem solve the challenges they face. The top five qualities are problem-solving (68%), effective time management (44%), decisiveness (41%), empathy (38%), and compassion (36%). 

Thanks for spending a small part of your day with me, and have a great weekend! 


Posted by Frank Cania, president of HR Compliance Experts LLC.

Please feel free to contact Frank at frank@hrcexperts.com, or 585-380-1566 with questions or for more information.


Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute a legal opinion, and is not legal advice. The facts of each situation should be considered and analyzed individually. Therefore, you should always consult with competent employment counsel regarding any issues discussed here.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Frank Cania and HR Compliance Experts LLC.

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