Friday, August 12, 2022

WIRTW #637: the “down on the farm” edition


I grew up in Philadelphia and attended City of Philadelphia public schools. My high school had 4,500 students and was surrounded by barbed wire fencing. In a lot of ways, it felt more like a prison than a school.

My kids attend cushy suburban private school. It's a luxury that I'm happy to be able to provide to them. They have a wooded 93-acre campus to explore, small class sizes, a unique curriculum not tied to state-mandated requirements, and now an actual farm that doubles as an outdoor experiential classroom. As far as I know it's the only such outdoor space in NE Ohio. 

Dubbed "Aspiration Acres," Lake Ridge Academy dedicated this new addition to our campus earlier this week. It has gardens, a silo, a barn, and a chicken coop with live chickens. Later this year the school will dedicate our new outdoor woodland all-purpose trail, complete with parkour obstacles and a sugar shack that will provide a permanent home for the 2nd the 5th graders' annual maple sugaring. 

For more information, I encourage you to visit lakeridgeacademy.org.

Here's what I read this past week that I think you should be reading, too.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Consistency matters when applying anti-harassment rules


Can an employer legally fire an employee who writes "whore board" on an overtime sign-up sheet? Let's explore.

Following unsuccessful negotiations for a new union contract, Constellium unilaterally implemented a new overtime policy that required employees to sign up for overtime on a sheet posted on a bulletin board outside the lunchroom.

Employees were not happy about the new policy. Those who opposed it began calling the overtime sign-up sheet a "whore board," as they believed that those who used it to sign up for overtime were selling out their union. "Whore board" quickly became common slang in the workplace (even among supervisors). There was no evidence that Constellium disciplined anyone for saying the vulgarity.

One employee, Jack Williams, went a step further. He wrote "whore board" on the sign-up sheet. Constellium then fired him for "willfully and deliberately engaging in insulting and harassing conduct."

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Employee too distraught to work over Dobbs decision loses job


I haven't been shy about hiding my disgust over Dobbs, the end of constitutional protections for abortion, and the threat to reproductive, women's and other fundamental rights that our nation currently faces. 

Michael Lopez was also disgusted; so disgusted, in fact, that he couldn't even work. Lopez was a production coordinator at Universal Music Enterprises, whose job included processing a weekly Friday report of upcoming releases. Except the Friday that the Supreme Court released Dobbs, Lopez was too upset to do his job. Instead, he sent the following email to his co-workers:

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Do you know what to do and not to do when federal agents arrive with a search warrant?


The front door to your business opens, and in walks a column of federal agents with boxes, computer imaging equipment, and a search warrant.

Do you what to do and what not to do? Does your business have appropriate response procedures in place? Any have you trained the person most likely to receive the agents (a receptionist, for example) on how to appropriately respond?

Here are some suggestions.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Does craft beer have a labor problem?


Does craft beer have a labor problem? Julie Rhodes, writing at PorchDrinking, sure thinks so. 

She cites low wages and labor conditions as the two main drivers of her conclusion. 

Friday, August 5, 2022

WIRTW #636: the “what the heck” edition


Another week, another podcast appearance. This week you can catch me on What the Heck is Happening in HR, discussing all things employee handbooks.

Here's what I read this past week that I think you should be reading, too.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Alex Jones trial offers a teachable moment on the issue of "inadvertent disclosure”


Suppose you're sitting in your office and your associate excitedly runs in, yelling, "We got 'em! The other side just sent us the entire contents of their client's cell phone, and oh boy are there some smoking guns!"

This exact issue just played out in an Austin, Texas, courtroom in the defamation trial between online conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and the parents of a 6-year-old killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting suing him for lying that the attack was a hoax. The parents had requested in discovery that Jones turn over all emails and text messages related to the shooting. Jones claimed that none existed because he doesn't email or text. Then 12 days ago his lawyer accidentally sent the entire contents of Jones's cell phone to the parents' attorneys.

What happened next would seem laughable if it unfolded during a prime-time legal drama. Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of these events unfolding in court, a former writer for Law & Order tweeted that they "wouldn't have let a lawyer do something that dumb." And yet it actually happened yesterday in an actual courtroom.


"Your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cellphone with every text message you've sent for the past two years. And when informed they did not take any steps to identify it as privileged.… And that is how I know you lied to me about not having any text messages about Sandy Hook."