First off, let me dispense with the elephant in the room — Yes, the show “Survivor” is still on the air and yes, I haven’t missed any of the 39 seasons of it.

In fact, I shared lessons that employers could learn from Survivor way back in 2010.

Last week’s episode of Survivor, however, brought far more reality than most would think a “reality show” could or should bring.

There’s a lot of nuance to the episode that a short blog post can’t get into (though this podcast by Rob Cesterino gives it a try), but the show’s episode revolved around legitimate sexual harassment claims, using harassment claims for nefarious purposes, and bystander syndrome.

And it was ugly. Really ugly.

Why?  Here are a few things that stood out to me from an employment perspective:

First, a female player (Kellee) complained to a producer that another male player (Dan) was a little too “touchy” and made her feel uncomfortable. To be sure, there was plenty of video evidence to back her up.   The male player was given a “warning” and play continued.  But here’s the thing: The female player never knew that a warning was issued and Dan worked with others to get Kellee voted out of the game immediately thereafter.  Not telling the complainant what was going on with her complaint is just one of the ways the producers seem to have mishandled things.


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This current wave of sexual harassment (and, in some cases, sexual assault) allegations that are making headlines every single day is downright astonishing to many employment lawyers that I know.

It is the tsunami that knows no end.

And right now, that makes me nervous.  But maybe not for the reason you might think.

It’s

Back in the 1990s, employers still had the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings and the tawdry sexual harassment allegations relatively fresh on their minds. Employment lawyers will tell you that they started to see a bump up in claims in the early to mid 1990s as the issues of workplace harassment raised to the surface.

I

As I return from an extended absence for the Thanksgiving holiday, my colleagues Gary Starr and Gabe Jiran share this alert about anonymous threats in the workplace based on a recent Circuit Court decision

starrEmployee complaints based on anonymous harassment pose special problems for employers.  How do you uncover the source of the problem

secretsEarlier this month, The New York Times ran another column in its Workalogist series that asked the following question:

Are conversations with a human resources department confidential? I’m contemplating retirement in about three years and would like to gather benefit information from human resources now — but I do not want my supervisor to know.

The CHRO is screaming for a reboot - like Star Trek
The CHRO Complaint Process is screaming for a reboot – like Star Trek

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities from both attorneys and clients. And I’ve come to one conclusion:

The CHRO Complaint Procedure needs a reboot.

Now, before you dismiss this as a critical column – let’s be clear. I like many reboots.  Sure, the Superman Returns movie paled in comparison to the Christopher Reeve version, but I thought the new Star Trek reboot was pretty snazzy.

Why do movies go through reboots? Because the formula that had worked for the movie series for so long has just stopped working.

Think George Clooney in Batman & Robin and then the reboot with Christian Bale.

And right now, the process that the CHRO has created is just not working. It’s not working for individuals, it’s not working for companies and, I believe, it’s not really working well for the agency itself.  (And note too that I’m not suggesting the agency itself needs a reboot — though some have argued for that — rather, it’s the process as mandated by the law that this post is addressing.)

A reboot doesn’t mean failure; it doesn’t mean to throw out the entire formula. The agency has made some good strides on public outreach, for example, under the new leadership team.  It is closing cases at a good clip and the mediation process seems better than in years past with dedicated staff just for mediations.

And I wouldn’t go so far as to say we live in a post-modern age where it has completely outlived its usefulness.

But the complaint procedure which was reworked a few years ago just isn’t working for anyone. Here’s why:


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Today, my colleague Christopher Engler, takes a crack at explaining what happens with FMLA leave when an employee takes works at another job while on FMLA leave.  As Chris explains, not everything about the statute is “common sense.” 

Picture this:

In one scenario, a maintenance worker takes an FMLA leave for “mental distress” but

Two stories over the last few weeks have been percolating that may be of interest to employers in Connecticut.  You may not see the impact immediately, but the implications are certainly there.

First, the EEOC is now looking to conduct more direct investigations — that is, investigations that are initiated without any claim by an