Don’t do that
Johnny Paycheck ‘s 1977 hit, “Take This Job and Shove It” encapsulated the thought of many a worker: the ability to tell one’s boss, in direct terms exactly what was thought of him, and what he could do with his job. That thought, however, typically isn’t a reality.
Tell your boss to shove it, and you’re typically the one doing the shoving. Of all of your things. Into a little box. That you and the security guard carry downstairs on your way off of the property.
So what happens when you publicly curse your boss on social media, using rather profane language in describing them and their shortcomings as a leader? That’s automatic termination, right?
Not so fast.
In a recent case before the National Labor Relations Board, board members voted 2-1 to overturn the firing of Hernan Perez, who posted to his Facebook account that his boss “…is such a NASTY MOTHER F-ER don’t know how to talk to people!!!!!! F-k his mother and his entire f-ing family!!!! What a LOSER!!!! Vote YES for the UNION!!!!!!!”
Well, that certainly seems clear enough, and would typically warrant termination.
So what’s the difference here?
Mr. Perez was an employee of Pier Sixty in New York City and had been for 13 years. In 2011, the service employees of the company began a drive to organize as a union, a drive that company management was actively opposed to.
Two days prior to the vote, Perez’s boss mildly reprimanded him, albeit loudly in front of others, and Mr. Perez vented his frustrations to the world at large.
A month and a half later, after the union had formed, the company fired Perez after learning about the Facebook posting, stating that the comment was a violation of the company’s anti-harassment policy.
Both the NLRB and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to whom Pier Sixty had appealed after the 2-1 NLRB decision, found that Perez’s speech, although vulgar, was protected under the National Labor Relations Act as a part of union organizing activity.
“Even though Perez’s message was dominated by vulgar attacks on McSweeney and his family, the ‘subject matter’ of the message included workplace concerns – management’s allegedly disrespectful treatment of employees, and the upcoming union election,” Judge José Cabranes wrote, crafting an opinion for the triumvirate of judges.
Pier Sixty had done themselves no favors.
In attempting to curb support for the proposed union, they had created a ban on talking between employees. When Perez was told to be quiet by his boss, it wasn’t in an effort to maintain workplace decorum as much as it was to chill the organization of the union.
Additionally, the company had been incredibly lax about the tolerance of profanity in the workplace, with obscenities common among both frontline staff and company management alike, including the terms alluded to in Perez’s posting.
No employee had ever been fired for use of profanity at Pier Sixty, and averaged less than one warning for profanity per year to employees for the six years prior to Perez’s firing.
“Under the circumstances presented here, it is striking that Perez – who had been a server at Pier Sixty for thirteen years – was fired for profanities two days before the Union election when no employee had ever before been sanctioned (much less fired) for profanity,” said the judges in their ruling.
So, we can’t fire employees for cursing out their bosses now?
The answer is, as it is with so many things in life, a qualified maybe.
How to handle it
Although right to work states do not have to worry about union organization with the frequency that other states do, it is incumbent upon employers to know the law and how to address employees’ rights to organization should talk of a union begin. Ensure that your human resources department is trained in the tenets of the National Labor Relations Act, with at least annual reviews on changes in case law that apply to your field, and make certain that your legal counsel gives timely advice should talk of a union begin (or gives you a referral to labor counsel if it’s outside of their field).
Secondly, if you have a policy on appropriate workplace conduct, follow it.
A rule seldom or only selectively enforced is a nightmare waiting to happen at termination time.
Finally, if your workplace is profanity tolerant, you’ll have a harder time training your employees where the magical line is between okay and fired, so consider making your workplace standards of conduct consistent with professionalism.
As with any termination, it should never be a surprise to the employee when it happens, whether it’s for lackluster performance over time or the one very big bad thing that they did. But you’ve got to be sure that you’ve protected yourself by ensuring that you’re really firing the employee for what you say you are, rather than using it as a pretense for other things altogether.
This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution
(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.
The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.
Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.
There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.
Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.
Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.
Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.
“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”
For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.
Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees
(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?
The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.
As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.
And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.
Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.
How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.
“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”
Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.
Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.
Unify your remote team with these important conversations
(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.
Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.
According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.
Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.
Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.
With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.
The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.
Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.
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