Thursday, July 30, 2009

A short rant, and a lesson on employee appreciation

I’m always happy to answer an email or a phone call from a reader. Yesterday, I received an email from someone asking me a question about something I wrote in a publication called What’s Working in Human Resources. The problem is, I never wrote anything for What’s Working in Human Resources. I googled the publication, and discovered two things: its published by Progressive Business Publications out of Malvern, PA, and its publications are not available online. The emailer graciously forwarded me a copy of the article. What I discovered frankly shocked me. What’s Working in Human Resources had “borrowed” content from a post I wrote earlier this year, and made it look like I had given an interview.

Now, I’m all for free publicity, and I am happy to talk to any reporter who is looking for a quote on an employment law issue. All you have to do is ask. Just this year I’ve been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance Magazine, and the National Law Journal, to name a few. What bothers me is that my content was borrowed without my permission, and passed off as if I had spoken to this publication.

In response to my email asking that Progressive Business Publications cease using my content without my permission, I received the following:

We’ll be happy to comply with your wishes.

I’d like to point out, however, that we classified you as an expert and provided contact information where our readers might avail themselves of your wisdom. We find most employment lawyers think that’s a good thing.

Apparently, being called an “expert” is supposed to compensate me for the copyright violation.

From this tale, which consumed way too much of my time and energy yesterday, what lesson can employers learn? Give credit where credit is due. One of the easiest ways to make an employee feel undervalued and put that person at risk of leaving an organization is for management to take that employee’s ideas and hard work and pass it off as its own. Proper attribution and credit is easy to give, and usually goes a long way to making employees feel appreciated.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.

For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or