Sins of Well- Meaning Supervisors


It seems as though there are so many ways that your supervisors and managers can practically beg for a lawsuit even though they have the best of intentions. Here are just a few examples:

1. Making unlawful pre-employment inquiries: The supervisor may ask the applicant: Do you have any children? If so, will you have any daycare problems?

2. Delivering "dishonest" evaluations: Supervisors giving an employee a "satisfactory" rating even though the employee's work is poor because they avoid the discomfort of delivering a review that indicates poor performance. As a result, many legitimate actions taken against an employee based on poor performance would be questioned because the performance reviews are positive.

3. Too vague in discipline and performance write-ups: The supervisor may tell an employee that their performance is unacceptable, but not be specific in what areas are unacceptable. They often use Judgment words like "lazy". Again, too vague. They need to give specific examples of the unacceptable behavior.

4. Making rash disciplinary decisions: First of all, firing in anger isn't the way to handle employee issues. Second, you should never fire without carefully reviewing the circumstances with HR.

5. Making uninformed responses to medical leave requests: Realizing that dealing with employee requests for medical leave are frustrating and challenging, it is wise to curtail that frustration and respond professionally.

6. Not knowing and not enforcing policies: Supervisors and managers are on the front line for interpreting and enforcing your company's policies. But if they don't know the policies and the responsibilities associated with those policies, they might be setting you up for a lawsuit.

7. Letting problems fester: It's always tempting to ignore bad behavior from employees hoping it will go away or improve on its own. If you continue to do so, it looks as though you are condoning the behavior.

8. Making "side" agreements: First of all, side agreements are illegal and will lead to lawsuits since other employees didn't get the special treatment or privilege and they may sue. For example: a supervisor tells an employee that he or she can't pay for the extra work that employee is doing and offers to give them a dinner on the company account.

9. Making wage and hour mistakes: Remember: you have to track it, pay it and include bonuses in the "regular rate" for overtime calculations. You have to pay for all hours worked, even if the employee volunteers and many independent contractors are employees who need to be paid overtime. Also, many "exempt" employees have duties that do not meet the criteria for exemption.

10. Not realizing the "power" of the supervisor: if your supervisor invites an employee out for a drink after work, the employee may view that as an order. It can be seen as coercion or harassment in some situations. Because of the power the supervisor has over employees, it is especially egregious when it may seem as if that power is exerted over the employee.