Nobody wants this pandemic to end faster than restaurant owners, whose businesses have suffered greatly. To get restaurants up and running, New York State added restaurant workers to the list of people eligible for a vaccine.

Waitress Bonnie Jacobson’s employer, the Red Hook Tavern, made vaccination mandatory. Jacobson refused–citing fertility concerns. The Red Hook Tavern fired her, and declined to comment on Jacobson’s specific case in a story for The New York Times. The owner, Billy Durney, did tell the Times that the business’s policies had been revised to clarify how employees could seek an exemption from getting vaccinated.

To keep reading, click here: A Restaurant Fired a Waitress for Refusing the Covid-19 Vaccine

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Wynter Research panels

by Evil HR Lady on February 18, 2021

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Texas, and other southern states, are experiencing a rare event: below-freezing weather and snow. It’s so cold in Texas that wind turbines froze, causing rolling blackouts for 3.8 million people. Yet, a small retail store owner sent out the following message to his employees:

Just to be clear with everyone. Cold weather is not an excusable reason to not come to work. If you don’t show for your shift and you didn’t find coverage…it’s considered job abandonment. I do not have sympathy for a little snow and cold. Half the nation lives in this weather for 4 months every year. [Ellipses in the original.]

This is precisely how you find yourself with no employees and a failing business. And, while he’s right that many, many people deal with cold and snow and ice every winter, it’s not the same as it is in Texas.

To keep reading, click here: What You Should Say to Employees When a Freak Storm Messes With Business

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Intermittent FMLA for Exempt Employees

by Evil HR Lady on February 15, 2021

Can an employer force an exempt employee to use PTO or dock their pay for time to attend physical therapy appointments (2-3 per week) due to an approved FMLA event?  In this case, the remote employee is attending therapy before normal “scheduled” work hours but, she has to start late. 

HR advised she must take PTO or be docked pay even though she makes up all time daily.  And, this employee normally works well over forty hours every week (easily documented). 

As a manager, I am concerned this is breaching the employee’s exempt status and sets a precedent for all of our other professional, exempt employees (Claims Adjusters).

I have not been able to find any information on-point with docking pay when the employee is making up time.  I would appreciate any input you can provide as this practice seems to violate the FLSA.

First, a blunt statement. Your HR sucks and I’m sorry.

Second, an explanation of what is going on. FMLA is unpaid. Even for exempt employees. It’s one of the few times you can dock an exempt employee’s pay for missing partial days. (In fact, I think it may be the only time you can dock an employee’s pay for missing partial days, but I’d be happy to hear about any other situations where that is possible.)

As such, your HR is acting “correctly” in either docking her pay or her PTO for the time she misses due to her intermitten FMLA.

The whole point of exempt employees is there isn’t a set number of hours that the employee needs to work every week. But, you can require an exempt employee to be working at certain hours. Saying you have to be to work at 8:30 does not violate the exemption. (For a clear answer, think of a Dentist. Dentists are clearly exempt employees in every sense of the word, but they need to be on time to work because the patients expect them to be! You can’t fill someone’s teeth via Zoom.)

So, there is some reasonableness in saying, “The workday starts at 8:30 but on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you are not there until 10:00 so we will deduct 3 hours of PTO per week.”

But, as I said, your HR sucks here. Three hours a week (or whatever it is) is a drop in the bucket with an exempt employee who regularly works more than 40 hours a week. If she were leaving at noon three times a week and not making any of it up, then I’d be on team HR. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. If she were a dentist who had to see fewer patients because of this, then that would be reasonable. But she’s not.

So, here’s what I’d do. First, I’d tell HR that you, as her manager, are changing her schedule. She now begins work at 10:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays (or every day, whichever works best for you.) Therefore, there is no need to dock her pay or her PTO or anything like that. She is on time to work every day. Sure, sometimes she comes to work early, but she’s an awesome employee.

Escalate this if necessary. Get your boss on board.

Intermittent FMLA can be difficult to manage, but in this scenario, it’s HR that’s being difficult. The employee has done everything in her power to keep her work intatct and be a benefit to the company.

Anyone else have suggestions on how to handle this?

The Cheap Perk 50 Percent of Your Workforce Will Love

by Evil HR Lady on February 12, 2021

Do you stock feminine hygiene products in your bathrooms for your employees (or perhaps customers)? While some might think this is a trivial thing, it could make a difference to your employees.

Federal law doesn’t require businesses to provide feminine hygiene products for their employees, and (as far as I know), no state requires it either. Thankfully, a recent change to Flexible Spending Accounts means that you can use that money for tampons and pads, meaning that the IRS finally recognizes them as essential healthcare items. But, even so, not everyone has a healthcare plan that provides an FSA or participates. 

Proving tampons is probably good for employee retention too — especially if there are a lot of low-income employees. What do the numbers say? Jezebel estimates women spend about $120 a year on menstrual products during their reproductive lifetime, a total of about $5,000. And many women in the U.S. have experienced “period poverty” during their lifetime, meaning, for women living on the edge financially, it could be a choice between buying tampons or dinner. 

To keep reading, click here: The Cheap Perk 50 Percent of Your Workforce Will Love

When Doing the Right Thing Gets You Fired

by Evil HR Lady on February 11, 2021

Rules are rules. We must follow rules at all costs. Zero tolerance policies come from a good place–we want everyone to know how serious we are–but they can blow up in a disastrous way.

Dr. Hasan Gokal found this out the hard way, according to The New York Times. Once opened, a bottle of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is good for six hours. Dr. Gokal found himself with a punctured bottle and not enough patients.

So, he did what we all want him to do–found sick people who would have qualified for the vaccine if they had signed up–and vaccinated them. He filled out all the paperwork and then got fired.

It wasn’t that he went out and offered it to 22 year old drunk college students (although, frankly, that would be better than throwing it out). Here’s a sampling of the people who received the vaccine:

The doctor got back in his car — his wife insisted on going with him — and drove to a Sugar Land house with four eligible people: a man in his late 60s with health issues; the man’s bed-bound mother, in her 90s; his mother-in-law, in her mid-80s and with severe dementia; and his wife, her mother’s caregiver.

He then drove to the home of a housebound woman in her late 70s and administered the vaccine. “I didn’t know her at all,” he said.

Here’s how the firing went down.

Several days later, the doctor said, that supervisor and the human resources director summoned him to ask whether he had administered 10 doses outside of the scheduled event on Dec. 29. He said he had, in keeping with guidelines not to waste the vaccine — and was promptly fired.

They questioned his “equity” in administering it to too many people with “Indian” names. Now, the irony of this is that Dr. Gokal is from Pakistan, but this didn’t faze his supervisor or the HR director.

I understand the “rules” which make sense. You don’t want a doctor letting all his friends and family skip the line. But, you also want as many people as possible vaccinated.

This is a time when HR should have stepped in and pointed out that he did the absolute best he could in this situation. There weren’t any more people coming to the vaccine event. The doses would go to waste. He found people who were at high risk (which, admittedly included his wife) and vaccinated them.

Let’s remember the human part of Human Resources. Yes, vaccines should go to high risk people first. But, we shouldn’t waste any vaccines if we can possibly help it. There are literally billions of people who would love to be vaccinated. Not a single dose should ever go to waste.

And your company policies should reflect that.

Image by torstensimon from Pixabay

It’s Time to Hire the Long-Termed Unemployed

by Evil HR Lady on February 10, 2021

Last year at this time, the economy was humming along, with unemployment at 3.8 percent overall and 2.0 percent for college grads. January 2021’s unemployment rate is at 6.3 percent, which means that an awful lot of people who lost their job during the peak of pandemic unemployment are still looking for a job.

If you’re hiring, it’s time to look at some of those people who have been unemployed for six months or more. (Some people have been unemployed for a much longer time!) Companies often prefer to hire people who are already employed, but if you want to do what is best for your community and your company, it’s time to look at the long term unemployed.

Hiring long-term unemployed candidates is good for your community.

We’re seeing an increase in low-impact crimes,” said Jeff Zisner, chief executive of workplace security firm Aegis. “It’s not a whole lot of people going in, grabbing TVs and running out the front door. It’s a very different kind of crime — it’s people stealing consumables and items associated with children and babies.”

To keep reading, click here: It’s Time to Hire the Long-Termed Unemployed

Shovel Everyone’s Sidewalk

by Evil HR Lady on February 9, 2021

When I was a child, my family lived in Salt Lake City, Utah. Salt Lake gets a lot of snow and everyone is responsible for removing their own.

Our next door neighbors were an elderly couple–the Hedins. By elderly, I want to make clear that they were both in their 90s when we moved in.

And yet, when it snowed, if we weren’t fast enough, Mr. Hedin would be out there shoveling our snow.

My parents did the only thing they could in the situation–make sure to get up earlier to shovel the Hedin’s snow. I mean, who wants their 90+ year old neighbor shoveling your snow? My parents were in their late thirties, healthy, and had healthy (albeit whiny) children who were all capapble of shoveling snow.

So, any time it snowed, my dad and brothers would be out shoveling before Mr. Hedin could possibly get out there!

Later, we acquired a snow blower and my brother snow-blew (is that a word?) the whole block.

Now, we lived in a rather transient low-income neighborhood. Lots of old houses that had been turned into apartments. Lots of people who came and went (except, of course, the Hedins, who were obviously the original owners of their house). We knew some by sight, some by name, and some not at all.

In retrospect, I’m guessing that neighbor Joe who dressed like he was a cast member in Welcome Back Kotter and spent his days smoking on the porch was probably on the left end of the political spectrum. The guy across the street who named his son Liberty Bell was probably on the right end of the spectrum.

Some of the people on our street were undoubtedly not making good life choices. Some were making seriously bad choices. Some my parents agreed with. Some my parents disagreed with. Some shared our family’s values and some did not.

And you know what? No one cared. Everyone was grateful that my brother and his snow blower cleared off the sidewalks every time it snowed. He may have received some money for his work, but it certainly wasn’t a requirement.

Our family had the snowblower and it would have been considered rude to just snow blow our own length of sidewalk and driveway.

That’s how I was raised.

And so I’ve seen this article where a liberal woman frets about what it means when her “Trumpite” neighbors plowed her driveway, shared around the internet. She worries about what it means.

It means her neighbors own a snow plow and she doesn’t. It means that her neighbors don’t spend time judging people based on what they think before deeming them worthy to have their driveways plowed. It means her neighbors, like my parents and my little brother, saw someone with a need and took care of it.

Try being nice to people you don’t agree with. Heck, try being nice to people without first finding out who they voted for. And if they are horrible people? Who cares? You’ve done something nice and made the world a better place. And if someone does something nice for you? Say thank you. People like this aren’t expecting anything more. It’s just what neighbors do.

Image by Alehandra13 from Pixabay

The Real HR Show: The Narcissist

by Evil HR Lady on February 8, 2021

Switching Careers Doesn’t Mean Starting over

by Evil HR Lady on February 5, 2021

When is it too late to change careers? I’m 40 and hate my job. But with almost 20 years invested in my field, I really don’t want to start over with an entry-level position in a new area. How possible is it to switch careers without taking a massive pay cut?​

To read my answer, click here: Switching Careers Doesn’t Mean Starting over

Leave your own answer in the comments!