Trying to follow both state and federal wage and hour laws isn’t that hard.

But it isn’t that easy either.

Let’s say you’re a restaurant with a waitstaff.  Like most restaurants nowadays, your customers pay by credit card and you, the employer, have to pay the credit card company a percentage on each sale.

You

file0001835967537The Connecticut Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision that will be officially released April 4, 2017, has ruled that employers may not use the “tip credit” for pizza delivery drivers and therefore, the employees must be paid the standard minimum wage.

You can download the decision in Amaral Brothers, Inc. v. Department of Labor here.

monkeyIn yesterday’s post, I talked about some of the reasons why an employee’s lawsuit against his or her employer was destined for failure.

But employers, I’m afraid you’re not off the hook that easily. This post is for any employer that just got sued or threatened with suit.

Maybe that lawsuit isn’t so frivolous after all.

Wait a second! You said yesterday that ‘Odds are, you probably weren’t discriminated against’!”  

Ah, but isn’t that rub? Odds. Statistics.  Yes, some (many?) lawsuits brought by employees are losing propositions. But some are not.

Here are some things I tell clients or prospective clients when I see a lawsuit filed or threatened as to why they should take the lawsuit seriously.

1. That frivolous lawsuit is still going to cost you thousands (if not tens of thousands) to defend.  But I thought you said this post was about non-frivolous lawsuits?  True. But for my first point, that’s beside the point entirely.  Whether a lawsuit is frivolous or not, the system of justice through our courts and administrative agencies moves slowly and with some cautiousness.  Even the frivolous ones need to be defended.  Court filings need to be, well, filed.  And court conferences need to be attended.  So your first point always is to recognize that all employment law cases have a cost associated with them.

And as such, all cases have what we call a “nuisance” value as well.  That is — you are going to spend X amount of dollars defending the lawsuit.  It may be cheaper to just pay a certain amount to avoid the cost of defense.  Now, there are business reasons why you won’t want to do so in all or even many cases, but the employer who fails to recognize the nuisance value of the case is destined to be disappointed in the long run.

It’s a bit of hyperbole to say that any person can sue anyone at any time for any reason. But not that much.  Lawsuits are a part of doing business.  Frivolous or not, you will still have spend money to defend your decision. Be prepared for this eventuality when making your employment decisions and deciding whether or not to offer severance in exchange for a release.

2. “At Will” Employment Is a Misnomer.   In Connecticut, the default employment relationship between an employer and employee is “at-will”.  As many offer letters suggest, that means either the employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason or no reason at all.  And so, I sometimes hear employers exclaiming “Connecticut is at-will! We should be able to just fire them for any reason!  How can they still sue?


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Next week, one of my colleagues, Peter Murphy will be at the Connecticut Bar Association to present a program entitled “CHRO 101 – From Complaint to Public Hearing”.   Full details are available at the CBA website.

The program includes a discussion of

  • The Complaint Process, MAR (Merit Assessment Review), and Mandatory Mediation,
  • Responding to the

Yesterday I posted Part I of my interview with Dr. Steve Lurie. Today, we continue the interview and discuss whether the skills for career success can be learned:

Can those skills (for career success) be learned?

Yes. But for some reason, employees typically receive relationship skill training much later in their careers in management development programs using personality tools, 360 feedback, etc. that help them to see who they are as others see them and make them aware of others styles.

We have found that people are actually ready and able to absorb and apply these insights and tools as early as high school. In fact readers tell us that the most engaging and useful part of the book is about how to use Connecting Style awareness for better relationship building.

You’ve referred to "Connecting Styles." What does that mean? 

Study after study shows that what differentiates the best performers from the rest is not subject matter expertise – the what — but the quality of the connections professionals form with clients and colleagues.

The most powerful connections are formed by those who factor in and respect the learning, communication and interpersonal preferences of the person they are dealing with – and understand their own style and how they are likely to be perceived by others.

While every human being has a unique connecting style fingerprint, we know that people fall into four basic “connecting styles” based on how emotionally and how forcefully they connect:

From this model we can generate a simple roadmap for engaging others based on their connecting style.

For example, analyticals respond best when working within a predictable process that gives them time to prepare in advance, spells out a plan, defines roles, and does not rush them toward a decision. Direct expression of anger, frustration, resentment, whether directed at them or others, makes them uncomfortable and they disengage.

Energizers on the other hand, engage when given the opportunity to express their feelings and ideas and get very impatient when sticking too tightly to process and rules. Once a person understands their own connecting style and how to assess style in others, they can apply these insights with supervisees, supervisors, clients, adversaries, judges, partners, etc. for greater influence and more trusting relationships.


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