Bringing HR Back: Don’t Let Them Use You!

As it relates to standing up and challenging racism, discrimination, sexual harassment, pay equity and other workplace foolishness. I can honestly say I only know 2 maybe 3 people who will challenge the evil doers at work when they want to do something stupid. Three people, that’s it. The others I know won’t say a word, will either do as they are told or quit and find a better job with fewer assholes.

This is troubling. Employees feel less and less protected by HR at their jobs. In fact in most cases, if an employee sees HR on their floor, they wonder why is HR there and who is about to be fired.  Employees don’t trust us because we will align with the managers and become partners in executing their discriminatory or unfair practices.

I shared on Twitter that I had a resume client who told me his boss will not allow him to hire anyone who is too fat, too dark, too ugly or too old. Many of my online HR peeps shared similar accounts of how they were mandated not to hire anyone based on any number of protected classifications.

Here’s another example of HR being used, recently someone I know was terminated, he came into work and saw HR talking to his manager – he knew something was wrong because in 6 months, HR had never come down to their floor. They were looking his way then called him over – he had a sinking feeling in his gut. Within 10 minutes he was terminated. The manager said something like, “Well, John, we are letting you go today, the HR associate will explain everything from here, but basically, you missed a deadline and we are done.” John was devastated and speechless. He didn’t know what to say or how to react. The HR person basically said the same thing as the manager, “We’re letting you go, when you leave this room, you will be escorted to your desk by security and allowed to gather your things. Do you have any questions?” He had none, he didn’t know what to do. The HR associate then handed him an unemployment benefit booklet and ended the meeting.

John asked me if it was lawful? Sadly, I said it wasn’t unlawful.

Now, I was not there so I don’t know what led up to that moment. My HR spidey senses tingled as I am sure yours are as well, but even with the speculation that I have/had I do know this… This person had no previous performance evaluations, performance improvement plans, or warnings. The state in which he works is an at-will state so they CAN fire him whenever they want and there was no work contract. However, I always say and believe that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it which is exactly way the EEOC is overrun and overloaded with discriminations, sexual harassment, racism, and wrongful termination cases.

The only time I have ever fired someone in this manner (the middle of the workday and without warning) is when they were sexually harassing, intimidating, or stealing. Other instances would be drugs and violence. Now, before I continue, let me say this, this firing was so effed up that 2 days later they send this guy an email asking him to sign some paperwork stating he would not take any action and that he would not try to lure or poach of their other employees – two days after the 10 minute termination meeting. Oh, and one more thing, there was no severance or separation payment – just his last check and that unemployment booklet.

HR gets manipulated, used or played a lot and we can’t do anything about it because jobs are hard to find and taking a stand for employee that someone in management wants to fire can cost you your job. Taking a stand can be difficult but you can at least let them know you won’t execute or protect them with their trifling actions and ways.

I know you can’t stop them, but don’t let them use you.