Hard Workplace Truths From “The Evil HR Lady”[Updated]


Susan Lucas is an human resources veteran who shares her abundant workplace wisdom on her blog, a truly excellent one, Evil HR Lady.

She has written an invaluable list she calls “Problems at Work? 10 Signs That It’s Not Them, It’s You.”  It can be literally a life-saver for frustrated career failures, disheartened underlings, especially, perhaps, those encouraged by warped parents, teachers, mentors and  peers to always avoid blame, accountability and responsibility by attributing it to prejudice, bias and personal animus.

Some highlights: Continue reading

Workplace Ethics: 62 Things That Are Legal, But 22 Of Them Are Unethical

"Oh, sure, he's hell to work for, but he never breaks any laws, so you'll be fine."

“Oh, sure, he’s hell to work for, but he never breaks any laws, so you’ll be fine.”

I have been remiss in not adding the terrific blog Evil HR Lady to the Ethics Alarms links, and will finally do so as soon as I post this entry. No profession deal s with ethical nuances and dilemmas more frequently than human resources professionals, and they can be very difficult, even gut-wrenching. In a recent post, EHRL searched through the archives of questions she has answered over the past years, and compiled an eye-opening list, especially for non-lawyers, of the conduct employers could engage in legally, which is to say, get away with and not be successfully sued, to employees, together with some questionable kinds of conduct that are legal for employees to do to each other.

She listed 62 of them, many of which are reasonable ( it’s okay to fire an employee for “being a jerk”) and some are obvious, or should be;  it is legal to quote the Bible in the office, for example. What is legal is not always good, fair, or right, however, and I perused the list with an eye out for legal workplace conduct that was legal but still unethical. About a third of the types of conduct on the Evil HR Lady’s list made mine. What follows is the sub-list of the 62 things it is legal to do at work, the 22 things it may be legal to do at work, but which are still unethical. The reasons for my unethical verdict follow Evil HR Lady’s items.

Here’s the list of the unethical 22 workplace practices: Continue reading

Showdown at Brookstone: An Ethics Train Wreck

Thanks to the enterprising employees at Brookstone, that odd chain that sells expensive gadgets for tasks that aren’t that important anyway, Ethics Alarms now encounters what has all the signs  of a genuine Ethics Train Wreck. Ethics Train Wrecks are situations where one unethical act sets off a chain reaction of bad judgment and rash behavior, and by the time all the carnage is over, anyone who was near the event, and those who tried to make sense out of it or clean it up, end up looking bad and arguing with each other. Recent Ethics Train Wrecks include the Valerie Plame affair and the Prof. Gates arrest. President Obama won’t get involved in this one (I hope!), but it has it all: gender, religion, workplace relations, law, Fox News. Continue reading