Against You Archives

Sklover Reputation Repair™ – Protect Your Career From Online Risk

Published on November 17th, 2010 by Alan L Sklover

“Glass, china and a reputation
are easily cracked and never mended.” 
– Benjamin Franklin

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY*: Over a 25-year period Megan, 43, had climbed her way up the “fashion ladder” from department store salesgirl to Visual Director of one of the world’s most famous fashion houses. Somehow, along the way she managed to pick up a Masters Degree in Design, several prestigious fashion design awards, and frequent invitations to speak at fashion expos.

Her gradual climb, though, took a bad step in 2009 when – for some unknown reason – an anonymous blogger wrote that she thought Megan had incorporated ideas and images from other Visual Directors into her own visual displays. The allegations were 100% untrue. Nonetheless, the world of visual fashion display was abuzz about these blog postings. Megan was crestfallen.

Things only got worse. First, in Megan’s defense, several of her good friends posted blog articles of their own defending her, which seemed only to further spread the “poison” all around the internet. Second, though time passed, Megan noted that, when she put her own name into Google and other search engines, she seemed to find more and more mentions of this allegation. Then she received a telephone call notifying her that an invitation to speak at a fashion design dinner had been withdrawn for no apparent reason. Finally, she received an email from an executive recruiter she knew asking her if she knew what was “all over the internet” about her.

Megan requested our “reputation repair” help in addressing the situation, a situation we are seeing more and more of our clients experience. We have learned over time that there are steps a person can take to decrease the chances of such a thing happening, and to take if something does happen, despite precautions. We helped Megan clear up the negative references, and have now expanded our law firm practice to include these “reputation repair” services. 

LESSON TO LEARN: In this “internet era” it is all too easy to lose a good reputation. Everyone who is employed or wants to be employed needs to both be vigilant about their reputations, and aggressive in repairing their reputations if damage takes place. Entire careers can be lost in a moment in this way.

Because so many of our clients have experienced the loss of their good reputations, and have asked us to assist in repairing them, we have learned – and are learning more and more each day  – about what can be done in terms of “reputation repair.”  

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Here are ten (10) steps you can take to both (a) monitor and (b) repair, your own online reputation so as to ensure that your employment and career remain undamaged:

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“Fired for Unknown Misconduct – Any Recourse?”

Published on August 8th, 2009 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I have worked for a non-profit organization for 17 years. Recently, I was told by HR that I was being terminated for an “ongoing issue” including a recent “negative event.” I asked the HR Representative what she was talking about, and all she kept saying was “I am not at liberty to tell you.” I was ushered right out the door. The HR person told me “It was the CEO’s decision.”

I have had a well-deserved stellar reputation, always had above-expectation reviews, and was promoted 3 times. For some reason I’ve never understood, our new CEO has not liked me from the first day he arrived. I am 57 years old, with limited savings, and a limited likelihood of finding a new job soon at a level commensurate with my abilities. I’ve been offered six weeks severance.

Do I have any recourse at all?

New York, NY

Answer: When I read emails like yours, it makes my blood boil. It reminds me of a client who was fired for “unsavory habits,” although HR would never tell him or me what they were. Were they referring to picking his nose, or something far, far worse? They would never say.

Whether or not you have signed a severance agreement to get your six weeks of severance, I would consider writing a letter to the CEO, which is entirely respectful and non-accusatory, which raises the questions: (1) “What did I allegedly do wrong?”, (2) “Why did HR refuse to tell me what I allegedly did wrong?” and (3) “When can I have a fair opportunity to defend myself from whatever is alleged?”

I would mention in that letter that you are being given no alternative but to (a) send copies of the letter to each of the members of the Board of Directors (or Trustees), or (b) hire an attorney, if your new request for what is nothing more than basic, simple civility is denied once again.

If you don’t get any positive response, you should consider writing a heartfelt letter to each of the Board Members, and asking them to consider the “Golden Rule” that is part of every major religion: You only ask to be treated as each of them – and their family members – would like to be treated in these circumstances.

A creative, assertive, experienced, courageous attorney might also be able to consider preparing a threatening letter and/or filing a lawsuit on your behalf, although it would not be an easy battle to fight. The legal doctrine that best fits your circumstances is “defamation by compelled self-publication,” which in simpler terms that you are “compelled” to tell future interviewers what happened, and in doing so, you are forced to repeat the unintelligible allegation. If you are denied even one job for this reason, you might have a case in New York courts.

My thought is surely to go to the CEO, and potentially the Board, and an attorney if that does not work. I share your anger at what has happened to you. I hope this has been helpful.

Best, Al Sklover 

P.S.: Want to send a Letter or Memo to your boss or HR, but feel unable or afraid to do so? We Can Provide a Non-Attorney Writer to Write Your Model Letter of Memo for You. Interested? Just [click here].

Alan Sklover’s Timeless Classic, Newly Updated and Revised

Fired, Downsized, or Laid Off:

What Your Employer Does NOT Want You to Know
About How to FIGHT BACK

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(Ipad, Nook, Kindle, etc.)


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© 2009 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

How can I find out what my former employer is saying about me?

Published on June 9th, 2009 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I was terminated from a real estate company I had worked for since it started. I was the property manager. A new owner took over and decided to take on the property manager responsibilities for himself, and so made me the office manager. One day, he questioned why I was paid overtime, even though he, himself, authorized the weekly payroll each week. He said he was, nonetheless, unaware of it, and fired me, claiming that I had paid myself overtime without authorization. How can I find out what information they are giving to future employers. I can’t seem to find employment, and this was my last and most important job.

Sevierville, TN

Answer: Your concern, and your question, are more common than you might think. Our clients have found four ways that have worked for our clients:

1. Use a Reference-Check Company: There are so many people sharing your concern that an entire new industry has developed to meet the need: reference-checking companies. Simply go to Google or your own search engine and type in the words “Employment Reference Check” and you will likely find dozens of companies who, for a fee, will pretend to be an employer checking your reference. Like all companies, it’s a sure thing that some are more reasonably priced than others, and some are more effective than others. For this reason, it may be wise to “shop around” before signing up with one, or two.

2. Have a Friend Inquire: Another common method of reference-checking is to have a friend – preferably one in your own industry – contact your former employer and ask for a reference, or simply call them up and say, “Why did this person leave? Would you hire this person again?” It’s surely less expensive, but your friends probably don’t know the “tricks of the trade” when it comes to eliciting such information. You also might not want your friends to hear what your former employer might say.

3. Inquire Yourself: It may sound trite, but not all employers are out to get you. It could not hurt to ask any former employer – even if your departure was on bad grounds – if you can use them as a positive reference. Surely, if they say “Yes” it’s better than “No.” In that case, you might try Steps 1 and 2, above. If they say, “No,” you might skip to Step 4, below. You never know until you try. You might just be pleasantly surprised.

4. Have an Attorney Send a “Cease-and-Desist” Letter: If you have an attorney-friend, or if you need to pay an attorney, it might be wise to have them send a “cease-and-desist” letter demanding that your former employer stop saying false, negative or damaging statements about you, and that you are monitoring what they say.

These methods have worked for many of our clients, and should work for you. We surely hope so.

Best, Al Sklover

© 2009 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

If you would like to obtain a “model” memo to help you request a reference letter, with three sample reference letters [click here].

What to Do if a Former Employer Has Defamed You

Published on August 2nd, 2007 by Alan L Sklover

“No one can have a higher opinion of him than I have,
and I think he’s a dirty little beast.”
– William S. Gilbert

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: For about one year, Rick, 48, had served a large, Midwestern telecommunications company as its Director of New Business Development. He’d been recruited while working for a mid-sized cable company headquartered in New England, where he had fulfilled the same role. At both companies he was well-liked, though hard-driving with his staff, and extremely successful. Rick was particularly creative in the kinds of business partnerships he was able to conceive, pursue, and complete. He had a knack for making both sides of a transaction feel like there was only one side, and they were both on it.

On a business trip to New York, Rick had dinner with a prospective client. She was the Chief Marketing Officer of a large electronics retailer based in New Jersey. Rick had developed cross-promotional contests with her at his last job, in which her company’s telephones and his company’s telephone services were jointly promoted and marketed. These efforts had proven successful for both companies, and he was hoping to develop a similar business partnership with her company for his new employer. Over their years of working together, she had become more than a mere business colleague of Rick, but had become something of a trusted friend, as well.

During their dinner conversation, the Chief Marketing Officer shared with Rick, on a confidential basis, what she had been told the week before by Rick’s boss at his former employer: that Rick had been asked to leave the cable company due to his “questionable business practices.” More particularly, Rick’s former boss had told her, Rick had apparently offered “envelopes of cash” to get business deals done. Rick couldn’t believe his ears, felt like he could barely breathe, and lost his appetite for dinner.

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Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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