Fired, Downsized or Laid Off Archives

Did You Know That . . . Recording Calls or Meetings Can Get You Fired

Published on May 30th, 2018 by Alan L. Sklover

. . . recording calls or meetings, even if legal in your state, is probably cause for getting fired at work?

It is common for employees to tell me “I know that it is legal to record a telephone conversation in this state, so I have been recording phone calls and meetings at work, and there is nothing they can do about it.”

That belief is simply and profoundly wrong. These examples should illustrate why:

• It is entirely legal to be drunk in your own home, or in the home of a friend. However, being drunk at work is surely good cause to be fired.

• It is entirely legal to walk around naked at home. However, walking around naked at work is surely good cause to be fired.

• Finally, it is entirely legal to use curse words at home. However, using curse words at work is surely good reason to be fired.

And, so it is with surreptitiously recording of telephone calls or meetings at work. If it is to be done at all, it must be done very quietly, very carefully, and totally discreetly, and not to be mentioned to others.

The seeming increase in employees recording conversations of all kinds at work is, I believe, a reflection of the decrease in trust felt for employers, managers, Human Resources staff, and even colleagues. And, this sense of distrust is being fueled, as well, by what we see between and among our political and other leaders.

Feel distrust at work? I can’t argue with your feelings, but recording conversations or meetings at work is, to my view, more self-defeating than helpful under almost any circumstance you may find yourself in at work.

To read a blog post I have written that provides a more in-depth explanation of tape recording at work, go to “Recording Conversations with Your Boss or HR” What You Need to Know.

Need to send a model memo or letter to make a request or complaint? A good checklist or form agreement? For a complete list of our Model Letters, Memos, Checklists and Sample Agreements, Just [click here.]

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© 2018 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved and Strictly Enforced.

Make a “Go File” . . . Pleeeeeze

Published on May 1st, 2018 by Alan L. Sklover

File Folder

Workplace Negotiating Insight No. 16: Make a “Go File” . . . Pleeeeeze

Observe and Learn:

Life is unpredictable, and workplace life is especially unpredictable. You need to be prepared.

You don’t know when you might be laid off, offered a great job elsewhere, or be cut off from access to your office computer.

If anything good, bad or ugly happens to you at work, to protect yourself, your finances and your career, you REALLY need to have at hand a copy of the various written materials that seriously affect you. Otherwise, you will be “in the dark,” and effectively unable to stand up for yourself. At a critical time, being “in the dark” is not good.

What written materials? They include offer letter, employee handbook, bonus agreement, emails in which you were given promises or assurances, retention agreement, employment agreement, stock option award, non-compete agreement, etc., etc.

Trust me: If a real problem occurs, your computer access will be turned off before you know it. And, HR will not provide such materials to you when you most need them. Then you will not be able to negotiate.

And, too, if a prospective employer, recruiter or interviewer asks to see your present agreements, or review your non-compete, if you are unable to provide a copy, you may lose out on a terrific opportunity.

For example, can you start a great new job next month, or have you signed a “Garden Leave” provision in which you promised to give six months of notice when you leave?

So, it’s prudent that, little by little, you take home and keep a copy of all such written materials, and place them all into a “Go File.” Just as “emergency preparedness” authorities recommend people should create a “Go Bag” of valuable papers and prescription meds just in case they need to evacuate their homes without notice in event of fire, flood, etc.

Be wise. Be prudent. Be prepared.
Protect yourself by creating a “Go File.”
Pleeeeeze. You’ll be glad you did.

So many of our clients have failed to do so, and have suffered mightily because they didn’t.

Observe and Learn.
Then Negotiate.

Need to send a memo or letter? A good checklist or form agreement? For a complete list of our Model Letters, Memos, Checklists and Sample Agreements, Just [click here.]

Interested in Membership? It’s free, and has advantages, including discounts on our products. Just [click here.]

Need a private telephone consultation? Just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can usually be accommodated.

© 2018, Alan L. Sklover All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Prohibited.

“Subsidized COBRA in Severance – What’s that?”

Published on July 19th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

Question: Dear Alan: I was recently laid off from my job in pharmaceutical sales, and received a small severance. I signed up for COBRA healthcare continuation for my family. When the bill came, for family coverage all I had to pay for my entire family was $325 monthly. That is far less than I thought it would cost.

Concerned that there was a mistake, I called Human Resources, and was told that it was not the usual COBRA benefits, but “Subsidized” COBRA benefits. What does that mean?

Bozeman, Montana

Answer: Dear Emy: Good question, as many employees don’t know the difference, and many lose out because of this lack of knowledge. Let me do my best to explain.
Read the rest of this blog post »

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Duties – The Four “Situational Exceptions”

Published on February 9th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

“Due to the highly confidential nature of my position
even I don’t know what I do all day.”

– Unknown

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORY”: Bart was a highly respected Business Development Officer for a major antiquities dealer headquartered in London. His interests, education and experience all overlapped one another. In fact, he had been fascinated with the antiquities trade – the sale, purchase and barter of ancient artifacts and treasures – as long as he could remember, and remained so to this day.

As part of an expansion of his firm, Bart had been designated to open a new Chicago office because Chicago has a large, vibrant and growing antiquities market. Chicago’s client base, comprised of art institutes, museums and wealthy individuals, was judged to be quite under-served, and so this assignment was posed a significant opportunity for Bart.

Just before relocating with his family to Chicago, Bart was asked to meet with the firm’s Head of Human Resources. Upon arrival, Bart was led to a conference room and asked by the firm’s lawyers about emails he had exchanged six months earlier with an antiquities collector in Rome, who was interested in a particular item of antique jewelry soon to be sold at auction. In his email, the Rome collector asked Bart what he thought would be the minimum acceptable auction bid. Bart’s email response to the Rome collector was that he thought it would be no more than one hundred thousand dollars.

Bart’s estimate of the minimum price was on target, with good reason: it had been decided upon by the firm’s auction department just days earlier, although it had not yet been made public. It now seemed as if Bart was being accused of disclosing confidential information – a very serious policy offense in the antiquities business, which highly prizes secrecy and integrity. Sure enough, Bart was immediately suspended without pay, pending completion of a full investigation by the attorneys. And, too, his relocation to Chicago was placed on hold.

Fortunately for Bart, he had been prudent in preserving emails of others who oversee his work. His review of emails to and from the Rome collector revealed to him that the request was originally sent from the Rome collector to the firm’s Executive Director, who had, in turn, directed it to him, with a note directing Bart to provide that requested estimate. When the Executive Director was asked, and then shown his email to Bart, he then recalled what took place, and for this reason Bart was cleared of the allegation of gross misconduct.

LESSON TO LEARN: Issues of confidentiality of business secrets, confidential information, and proprietary knowledge, are critical career issues. “Loose lips” not only “sink ships,” but they can also “torpedo careers,” as well.

These disputes are definitely on the rise, likely due to three factors: (i) increasingly competitive business conditions, (ii) a growing sensitivity to issues of confidentiality, and (ii) the greater ease and ability of employers’ closing monitoring and surveilling their employees’ communications.

As you may know, there are many companies that sell software that constantly look out for certain words, phrases and numbers in employee emails, texts and other digital communications.

The lessons to learn?

(1) take the time to understand what constitutes “confidential information” at your job;

(2) always keep in the back of your mind the four “situational exceptions” to confidentiality and non-disclosure obligations, explained below; and

(3) take certain simple steps to protect yourself from allegations of improper disclosure.

These three categories of “suggested confidentiality precautions” and – most importantly, the four “situational exceptions” to confidentiality and non-disclosure obligations – are what this newsletter issue is all about.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: To avoid confidentiality issues and pitfalls, keep these questions and answers in mind:
Read the rest of this blog post »

Job Loss Rebound – How to Do It “A.S.A.P.”

Published on February 18th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

“We often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door
that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

– Alexander Graham Bell

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES: In working with individuals who have suffered job loss, the following question is frequently posed to me, in the words, or in the eyes, of my clients: “Got any good ideas on how to deal with this?”

Over the 32 years of my practice, I’ve thought a lot about how to answer that question. Out of those thoughts, and observing those of my clients who have rebounded most quickly, have arisen four steps almost all of the “rebounders” seem to have taken.

Like all “Four Steps to . . .” solutions, it is not a “magic pill” that will instantly solve your problems. Instead, it is a way of looking at things, comprised of a series of phases one must go through to reach the next step in life, whatever that might be, as soon, as soundly and as successfully as possible.
Is it simplistic? Yes, a bit; yes, you might say that. But from the comments I have received from clients with whom I have shared this four-step process, it seems to be considerably helpful. In my own experience, when it comes to bewildering problems that engulf us like a fog on a dark night, sometimes the simpler the solution the better. And, too, the simpler the solution the more applicable it may be to the greatest number of people.

I know this four-step analysis has helped others, and I am hoping it will help to you, or someone you know, deal with one of the more painful and dislocating experiences of adulthood.

LESSON TO LEARN: Job loss is often experienced as a series of blows – to one’s confidence, to one’s sense of self-worth, to one’s sense of direction, to one’s financial security, and to one’s sense of having a place in the daily affairs of the world. The four “steps” that comprise what I call my “Rebound A.S.A.P. Method,” seems to help smooth out, soften and shorten these blows.

I have shared them with my clients over the years, and present them to you now. Each addresses those blows in a somewhat step-by-step fashion. Coincidentally or perhaps by some design, the first letter of each of the four steps together spell out the acronym “A.S.A.P.”, and thus make it a bit easier to remember.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Here are the four steps I have found can help those who suffered job loss rebound “A.S.A.P.”
Read the rest of this blog post »

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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