Managers as Walking Lawsuits

One of my employee relations colleagues informed me that she can’t help it–she just sees all managers as walking lawsuits. I laughed along with her, but it’s really not funny. Managers do stupid things all the time–ask wrong questions in job interviews (Do you have children? You do? What are your childcare plans?) or promote people for the wrong reasons (hey, she’s hot!) or play favorites or tell racist jokes or any number of other things.

We, in HR, can’t even control ourselves, let alone our managers. We do try to train them in what can and cannot be said. Apparently, Virginia State University’s HR department fell behind on training their managers that you shouldn’t fire people for expressing opposing viewpoints and then replace them with your live-in-lover.

Cobbs and her supporters have said that she was dismissed for her political views (she is an outspoken black Republican at a historically black college where her views place her in a distinct minority) and for backing other professors (of a range of political views) in disputes with the Virginia State administration. In announcing the settlement of her case, the Virginia Association of Scholars — one of the groups backing Cobbs — said that information obtained by Cobbs’s lawyer showed that the university’s provost, W. Eric Thomas, replaced Cobbs with a woman with whom he is living.

Cost the university $600,000.

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3 thoughts on “Managers as Walking Lawsuits

  1. Best question asked in an interview by a TRULY Evil HR Manager:

    What year did you graduate High School?

    (getting by the age question)

    I called him on it with a smile (Hey, that was tricky!) and nearly lost the job for my comment.

    Ok, actually, they hired someone else because they thought I was too much of a straight arrow and they were doing some, hmmm, creative licensing. They did come back to me, eventually, and I was so desperate, I took it! First and only time I was told by management to go find some software on KaZaa…

  2. Ohh, bad question! So good of you to call him on it. So bad of them to ask you to get illegal software.

    I once got asked if I needed health insurance. I answered the question, but it wasn’t until I left the interview that I realized what they were really asking: “Are you married? Do you have kids? What does your spouse do for a living?”

  3. I thought I heard a rumor that the company you worked for hired someone with no experience because it was the girlfriend of someone high up. The girlfriend is now fairly high up from what I understand.

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