Happy Birthday, Switzerland!

by Evil HR Lady on August 1, 2019

It’s the anniversary of the Federal Charter of 1291! So here are a few fun Swiss facts.

  1. The flag is a square, not a rectangle, unless it’s a maritime flag.
  2. The presidency rotates and it’s not a super big deal. In fact, I had to look it up to see who the president is today (Ueli Mauer)
  3. Each town has its own rules for citizenship.
  4. Switzerland is probably the most democratic nation in the world. The citizens vote 4 times a year and with enough signatures, any citizen can get anything on the ballot.
  5. You can’t drive until 18, but you can drink beer and wine at 16.
  6. Switzerland is a land of expats and immigrants. (No fighting about those words–here’s my definition: expats plan to leave and immigrants plan to stay). My canton, Baselland, is 35 percent foreign, and the neighboring canton, Baselstadt, is 51 percent foreign. Geneva, which has the UN as a major draw is 62 percent foreign.
  7. Even with that, the SVP party is the largest political party, and they are very anti-immigrant.
  8. If you graduate the equivalent of high school you can go to the university for free! But wait! Only about 20 percent of students qualify to get into the gymnasium program and can possibly get the degree required for university admission (the matura). You get set on a track at 12. Better hope you’re not a goof-off in grade 5 if you want to be a doctor!


How to Stand up to a Rude Boss

by Evil HR Lady on July 31, 2019

I have a boss that is extremely condescending and a control freak, so to speak. She is rather rude and makes a comment about my appearance quite often, specifically my nails. I wear my nails with the latest trends but not anything that would consider a disturbance in my work. She makes comments on how “they’re just crazy” and “I don’t understand how you wear your nails that way”. I’ve grown quite self-conscious of my nails whenever I need to work with my boss in the office (she mainly works from home) to the point that I hide my hands when I work with her. She picks on me in front of coworkers and just laughs as if it’s all fun and games. Is this a work violation I can bring up to HR superiors? We are both in the HR department of our company and I am not in violation of our companies dress code.

To read my answer and what happened when the OP followed my advice, click here: How to Stand up to a Rude Boss

Leave your own answer in the comments!


 Mayo Beach Adaptive Camp likes to take their campers on field trips, just like most summer camps. This camp is for disabled children (from 6-21), their siblings, and friends. Camp Director Joe Mavo bought 140 tickets for his campers and staff (the ratio is 1 staff member to every three campers) to attend a summer movie at the Regal Waugh Chapel & IMAX in Maryland. He informed the theater that it was for special needs children.

The theater was happy to sell the tickets, but when the group showed up, they were turned away. At first, the line was that the theater was oversold and then a district manager said it was due to “liability.”

Let’s unpack all of this. The Capital Gazette talked with Joelle Ridgeway, Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator for the county who said the problem was with the group size and not the members of the group. 

To keep reading, click here: How Unconscious Bias Led a Movie Theater to Kick out 100+ Disabled Children


Probably the most famous job search engine is LinkedIn, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one. It also doesn’t mean it’s the one that will stay on top forever–remember when Monster.com was the best place to find candidates and a job? (Full disclosure: I got a job through a resume posted on Monster way back in 1999.)

LinkedIn is certainly valuable, but not everyone is on there, and the people who have the most sought after skills may be tired of yet another in-mail from a recruiter who is likely to ghost candidates after begging them to consider working for this “dream” company.

Startups also have special needs that established businesses do not. When the company is only six weeks old, it’s not exactly clear how the positions will grow and change, and it takes a certain type of flexibility to do one of those roles.

So, if you’re looking for other job search engines, here are a few you might try.

To keep reading, click here: How to Hire Startup Talent on Job Search Engines That Aren’t LinkedIn


How to Do Diversity and Inclusion Training Right

by Evil HR Lady on July 26, 2019

In April, at a Sephora store in Calabasas, California, a store associate allegedly called security to make sure a customer wasn’t stealing.

That customer was African American singer-songwriter Sza, who tweeted about the incident and accused Sephora of racial profiling. Sephora representatives responded saying that they were looking into it. And then they shut down stores for bias and diversity training—although the company says the training had been planned in advance and was not related to the viral tweet.

If this series of events sounds vaguely familiar, it might be because something similar happened at Starbuckslast year when a manager called the police on two black men who were waiting without ordering. In response, Starbucks shut down for a company-wide bias training.

These responses to bias incidents may get a lot of press coverage, but there are more effective ways to go about diversity and inclusion training. These trainings should not just happen once, nor should they happen only once something goes wrong. Instead of reacting to an incident of bias or discrimination, companies should take a more preventative approach.

To keep reading, click here: How to Do Diversity and Inclusion Training Right


How Internships Helped Real People Succeed

by Evil HR Lady on July 25, 2019

As part of my internship, way back in 1997, I got to testify before the Utah State Senate about the ease of finding information about making homemade explosives on the internet.

It wasn’t what I saw myself doing when I applied for an internship to work for the Utah Legislature, but it sure was interesting. The Utah legislature is a true citizen’s legislature–it only operates for 45 days per year and almost all the senators and representatives have jobs. In fact, one of the senators I worked for had to miss a day because he owned a snow removal company and there was a massive snowstorm and he had to drive a plow.

I spoke with lobbyists, made phone calls, took notes in committee meetings, and did a lot of internet searches on explosives. (I believe this was for a bill to add filters to school internet access, but it’s been a long time and it could have been something else.) I even ran into a lobbyist in the hallway who shared my rather unique last name (then, McConkie). Turns out he was my dad’s cousin. Who knew?

Even though I never ended up working in government, the experience was invaluable in my future career. I never needed to look up explosives again, but I did learn to deal with people of all levels of an organization, present information, answer questions under pressure, and do a bit of schmoozing. All of these skills are important in an HR department or as a freelance writer.

I asked people how their internships helped them. Here are some of the answers:

To keep reading, click here: How Internships Helped Real People Succeed


Building the Brand of Employee Relations

by Evil HR Lady on July 25, 2019

When people think of Human Resources, their interaction at work is most likely with the employee relations team. The employee relations person is the one you go to when you struggle with your boss, workload, or co-workers, but she’s also the person you see when your boss is having trouble with you. If you’re getting put on a performance improvement plan, being laid off, or straight-out fired, it’s the employee relations person who will be there for that. 

But, sometimes the Employee Relations Brand can be less than perfect. If there are inconsistent policies or sexual harassment isn’t dealt with immediately and fairly, people can develop negative feelings towards their HR department. Good interactions breed good feelings, but sometimes ER has the job of presenting bad news and that results in negative opinions—even if HR handled everything perfectly.

Of course, most employee relations professionals are good at what they do. Most companies don’t want to have horrible people on staff. But, we need to build the brand and improve employee relations if we’re going to make a real difference. We don’t do that through snazzy Instagram posts. Here’s how we do it.

To keep reading, click here: Building the Brand of Employee Relations

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We always want employees to take a sick day when they have the flu or come down with a stomach bug. It allows them to recover and keeps everyone else from getting sick. But what about using an “unsick day” to help prevent these illnesses in the first place?

The concept is gaining traction, and for good reason. Staying healthy is about more than just bouncing back from illnesses quickly, and employees need the freedom to take time off for preventive checkups, vaccinations or therapist visits. Unsick days allow them to keep up their health without eating into their time off — meaning they’ll still have PTO open to de-stress on vacation or a sick day to go to the doctor when they catch the cold that’s been going around.

To keep reading, click here: Why Your Employees Need Sick Days — and Unsick Days


Can My Employer Change Me from Hourly to Salary?

by Evil HR Lady on July 23, 2019

I woke up this morning to three emails from people asking essentially the same question: Can my manager stop paying me overtime by declaring that I’m a salaried employee? While giving an entirely correct answer would involve looking carefully at the job description, the answer is almost always no.

Human resources manager and employee-relations expert Rebecca Goldbach says, “Everyone is born non-exempt.” Non-exempt means that you are subject to the rules in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This means that if you work more than 40 hours in a workweek, you are eligible for overtime. (The federal government, of course, has exempted itself from portions of this law, but business owners must follow it. And, California, of course, has made it more complicated and says you are eligible for overtime if you work more than 8 hours in a single day.)

To be exempt from overtime requirements, you have to meet specific standards. You have to have a minimum salary level, you have to receive the same pay every week regardless of the hours you work (with some wonky IT exceptions), and you must meet the duties test. 

To keep reading, click here: Can My Employer Change Me from Hourly to Salary?


I’ve had a Citibank credit card for almost 20 years but Citibank canceled it on Thursday. I have a monthly storage shed payment that hits the card, but otherwise, I rarely use it. But, I pay it off every month and am generally a low maintenance kind of a person. (I realize, paying it off every month and not using it a ton means I’m not a hugely profitable customer, but I was loyal.)

I’m also an American citizen who lives in Switzerland. I’ve been honest and upfront about my physical location. Many expats use their parents’ or siblings’ or friends’ addresses for US accounts to keep the bank in the dark. US banks don’t like to to have customers abroad any more than foreign banks want to have US citizens as customers.

Through a stroke of bad luck, my Swiss credit card number was stolen right before I went on vacation. The company caught it and canceled my card. They sent me a new one, but even though I’ll often talk about the benefits of Swiss efficiency, it doesn’t apply when banking is concerned. My new Swiss Mastercard hadn’t arrived five days later when I needed to board my plane to Newcastle, England.

To keep reading, click here: How Citibank’s New Policy Almost Ruined My Vacation