Swiss Saturday: Kitties

by Evil HR Lady on November 2, 2019

Two weeks ago we adopted two adorable kittens: Mikey and Claudia. Now, my primary purpose in writing this blog is to share pictures of the kitties.


These are our adorable new kittens. Did you know that kittens poop approximately four times a day? We did not know this when we adopted these kittens.

It’s fine. It’s good for the offspring to learn to empty the litter box. Which we do, twice a day. Why so often? Because these are indoor cats.

And this is where the Swiss part of this comes in.

Action Mikey

We live right in the center of Basel. It’s amazing. We can walk to grocery stores and movie theaters and restaurants. Last week I even walked to a Tom Walker and Snow Patrol Concert that was literally 300 meters from my door. I love where we live. But, it’s not safe for kitties to be out and about.

So, we needed indoor cats. The plural was important because Swiss law requires that your cat be able to see another cat every day. That either means you have two cats or your cat is an outdoor cat.

We set out to adopt two cats and it was very difficult. While there are plenty of cats available for adoption, no one wanted to give one to us–because we wanted indoor cats.

The prevailing Swiss view is that it’s cruel to keep cats indoors. The first question anyone asks is “how big is your garden?” Well, we don’t have one. We live in a city apartment. We have an awesome back porch, though!

Mikey sleeping

So, the animal shelters didn’t want to give us a cat. People who advertise their free kittens didn’t want to give us a cat. We didn’t try breeders, but I suspect none of them would want to give us a cat either. They believe it’s torture to keep a cat confined inside.

Claudia being tortured. See those sad eyes?

It’s the complete opposite of our experiences in the United States. There it’s difficult to find someone who will let you adopt a cat if it’s going to be an outside cat.

So, how did we get these two adorable kitties?

Well, the are street cats from Bahrain.

You read that correctly. See, Bahrain has a stray animal problem. This stems from a culture of not spaying and neutering your pets and a problem of expat families getting a new assignment and just dumping the pets on the street when they move, rather than going through the hassle and expense of moving the pets.

A woman in the area has a house in Bahrain and Basel and when she goes to Bahrain she brings back cats. She only adopts them out to people who will keep them inside, as she knows what happens on the streets.

We’re very grateful. And our little kitties are too. They enjoy being inside and haven’t asked to go out–even though the doors to our balcony are glass. In case they escape they’ve been chipped and Mikey’s been snipped. Claudia is too little to be spayed, but she will be when she’s older.

They like to attack feather based toys, completely avoid the nice scratching posts we bought them, and when strangers come to the door Mikey hides under the piano, holding perfectly still, and Claudia comes out to sniff them.

Offspring #1 is convinced that when they are bigger she will put harnesses on them and take them for walks. But, they won’t go outside alone–even if the Swiss people think we’re mean for keeping them inside.


10 Scary management styles

by Evil HR Lady on November 1, 2019

It’s Halloween, which is the best holiday because there are no family obligations where you have to tolerate your weird aunt, and there’s lots of candy. And there are also plenty of jump-scares to go around – even in the office. Your company may resemble a haunted house with all the scary managers running around. Here are 10 of the most frightening.

1. The Ghost

Finding this manager when you need her, is almost impossible. There are signs she’s been in the office–a coffee cup on her desk, a sweater over the back of her chair–but no sign of her. Until, of course, you’re getting ready to sneak out of the office 15 minutes early (what? You’re exempt!) and boo! There she is with a stack of new assignments.

2. The Vampire

Ever felt like you’ve been sucked completely dry by the demands on your time and your emotions? Yeah, your boss is a vampire. 

To keep reading, click here: 10 Scary management styles


Help Set Performance Goals for Employees

by Evil HR Lady on October 30, 2019

We often talk about performance goals for employees only in the context of an annual performance review, but goal setting can — and should — take different forms.

Effective employee goal setting can take several forms. We often talk about performance goals for employees only in the context of an annual performance review. We rate and categorize employees, set new goals, and then we forget about it all until next year.

This process is often unhelpful, but it’s important to establish performance goals that help further your business pursuits and advance your employees’ career goals. Remember: employees are more likely to be happy and engaged if they feel like they are progressing in their careers. Writing something on a piece of paper and never referring to it again is not the most effective way of cultivating that feeling. Instead, use the performance goals below as the jumping off point for regular discussions.

To keep reading, click here: Help Set Performance Goals for Employees


Can an Exempt Employee Take on New Work for Extra Pay?

by Evil HR Lady on October 29, 2019

Can full-time, permanent employees do freelance work for our California-based company if that work falls outside their job description? We have an employee who does design work on the side. We need to hire a designer and would be happy to use him on a freelance basis, but he will only do it if we pay him extra for the work. He’s an exempt salaried employee, if that makes a difference.

To read my answer, click here: Can an Exempt Employee Take on New Work for Extra Pay?


Man Fired for Sharing an Elmo Meme; Mob Rule Takes Over

by Evil HR Lady on October 28, 2019

Cody Hidalgo shared an Elmo meme on Facebook, where Elmo is sitting on a child’s potty along with the words “Boss makes a dollar, I make a dime, that’s why I poop on company time.”

Funny. A little bit crass. But funny. And posted on Facebook on a Sunday, when Hidalgo wasn’t at work. So, it makes no sense that his boss, Andy, fired him. But that’s what Hidalgo reported, and a podcast host picked up the story and tweeted it. And then the internet went wild.

The internet going wild is not unusual. Bad bosses getting called out on the internet is a theme. And, frankly, if you do something stupid like (allegedly) firing someone for sharing a meme, you deserve to be called a fool.

What you don’t deserve is false reviews of your business.

To keep reading, click here: Man Fired for Sharing an Elmo Meme; Mob Rule Takes Over


Study: Hiring Managers Discriminate on the Basis of Class

by Evil HR Lady on October 25, 2019

It’s not just where you grew up but how you grew up that influences your speech–and hiring managers take a mental note about it, according to a new study that will be soon published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Study author Michael Kraus, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, explained:

“Our study shows that even during the briefest interactions, a person’s speech patterns shape the way people perceive them, including assessing their competence and fitness for a job. While most hiring managers would deny that a job candidate’s social class matters, in reality, the socioeconomic position of an applicant or their parents is being assessed within the first seconds they speak–a circumstance that limits economic mobility and perpetuates inequality.”

If you come from a higher social class, you’re better able to replicate your parents’ lifestyle because you’re given better job opportunities. 

To keep reading, click here: Study: Hiring Managers Discriminate on the Basis of Class


Student loan versus retirement savings is a challenge that many millennials face. Sure, you have a job now with real income, but retirement is far away and student loans are sitting and staring at you like some sort of monster. When your staff comes to you for advice, here is what you should say.

Never Give Up Free Money

Many companies offer matching funds for 401(k)s or other retirement plans. In this situation, you contribute a small amount of your paycheck to your 401(k) and your company puts an equal amount in. When you’ve vested in the account (usually five years), that company’s contribution is yours to keep forever. That’s free money. Contribute enough towards your retirement to take advantage of this free money.

Manage Your Student Loans

Dan Macklin, Co-founder and VP, Community & Member Success, of SoFi , a company which specializes in finding you the best deal for your debt, has a great suggestion: “See if you qualify to refinance your student loans and put the amount you’ve saved directly into your retirement rather than treating it as extra spending money.”

To keep reading, click here: Student Loans vs Retirement Savings: Which Should Be Your Priority?


Marlon Anderson worked for the Madison, Wisconsin school district for 11 years before he was fired for using the N-word in a confrontation with a student.

That statement alone seems reasonable. As a society, we’ve agreed that there are some words so bad that one saying is an instant termination. In most contexts, I would agree with this type of termination, but not in this case. And, fortunately, the school district just rescinded that termination and offered Anderson his job back.

Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore said that Anderson would be reinstated after they looked at the facts. 

The facts are always the most critical aspect of any situation–and you should look at them even in cases where you have strict zero-tolerance policies. Here’s what happened.

On October 9, Anderson escorted an “unruly” student out of the building. Both Anderson and the student are black. Anderson says that the student hurled racial epithets at him, including the n-word, and he responded, telling the student not to say such a thing.

To keep reading, click here: A Madison, Wisconsin School District Fired an Employee for Using the “N-Word.” Here’s Why they Rehired Him


Offering raises to employees isn’t always possible, but other measures to help ensure financial security should be.

Employee financial wellness may seem like an exceedingly personal subject — one with which the employer shouldn’t interfere. And it’s probably unwise to give your employees instructions on how to spend or invest their money. Research from ADP shows that financially secure employees are less stressed and more engaged at work, so employee finance is something you should take time to consider.

Of course, if you ask your employees what the best way to help their financial situation is, they’ll likely say, “Give me a raise.” While this would be nice, most businesses cannot afford to increase everyone’s salary. Instead, here are some things you can do.

To keep reading, click here: Making Employee Financial Wellness a Key Focus of Your Benefits Plan


Maria Alves’s employer fired her when she didn’t return from her maternity leave. Well, to be fair, they gave her one extension and fired her when she asked for a second extension.

That may seem reasonable–companies aren’t obligated to hold your job forever, and the US requires only 12 weeks of unpaid time off–if you qualify for FMLA. So, why did Boston University lose a lawsuit?

Because Alves not only had a new baby, she had postpartum depression (PPD). Most women (50-75 percent) suffer from the “baby blues” after giving birth, but 10 percent of new moms can experience a more severe postpartum depression. (One in a thousand experience postpartum psychosis, which is far more severe.)

The baby blues generally clears up on its own in a couple of weeks, but PPD can last for months or longer and should be treated by competent medical professionals. And like other mental health problems, PPD can be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

To read more, click here: Women Fired for Not Returning from FMLA; Wins a Lawsuit for Unlawful Termination. Here’s Why

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