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FYI: Getting Mooned May Indicate That Your Employee Relations Program Needs Work

Posted on: September 12th, 2012 | Category: Employee Relations, Human Resources, Our Blog, Talent Management, Terminations

bad moon rising employee relationsIn a prime example of “truth is stranger than fiction”, comes the case of the mooning investment banker. Oh, he didn’t moon strangers while on vacation in Las Vegas, or a group of friends at a wild weekend party that ended up being viral Facebook fodder. No, no, no. We are talking about someone dropping his draws and giving the two-cheek salute to his bosses. In a company conference room. During an executive meeting.

(We found this story, coincidentally, on the appropriately named NBC New blog The Bottom Line. We just can’t make this stuff up, people.)

Let’s Look Behind the Scenes, Shall We?

Back in 2005, Jason Selch’s company merged with a subsidiary of Bank of America. Selch and some of the other employees weren’t happy with the way the new bosses planned to pay them with lower compensation and benefits packages than they had before. When a colleague was fired for not accepting the new pay plan, Selch barged into a conference room where executives were meeting to complain and ended up showing them…well…his end, up.

That’s just the half of it. Before he mooned his new bosses, Selch asked if he had a non-compete agreement in his contract, and found out he did not. Related to that fact or not, after the outburst, he wasn’t fired. He just got a formal warning, which management explained as something Selch qualified for because he was among the one percent of employees who could be granted a one-fault forgiveness for such workplace behavior.

But, What happened next?

When corporate headquarters found out about this incident, they were not happy with the punishment, as you can imagine. Selch was then fired. That meant Selch lost a multi-million contingent bonus package he could have been entitled to if he had remained at the company a few months more. Now Selch was not happy.

Surprise, surprise! Selch sued. He claimed that being fired after having been issued the formal warning was a breach of contract. Specifically, because he had not misbehaved since the warning (which stated he could be fired if he misbehaved in the future) the company had no right to terminate his employment post-mooning.

Long story short, both a trial court and an appeal court sided with the company and not Selch, because mooning is, in fact, “insubordinate, disruptive, unruly and abusive”. Chalk that up as a victory for common sense, and PG-rated workplaces.

In the end, what can we learn from all this?

“While this case clearly demonstrates that employers cannot anticipate every possible workplace conflict scenario, it does show that there are a few areas where companies can both protect themselves from unnecessary and costly litigation and promote better employee communications,” says Tina Hamilton, PHR, president and CEO of hireVision Group. Some of her tips for business owners:

  •         Outline your rules and policies for workplace misconduct, insubordination, disruptiveness and other unacceptable or abusive behaviors in your employee handbook. And then make sure all your employees sign off that they have received and understand them.
  • Make sure you have clear non-compete clauses in your employee contracts that are enforceable by law.
  • Consider a third-party employee hotline reporting system that allows workers to vent in a more civil and productive way.
  • Train your managers on how to identify and resolve conflicts with employees before things get to a boiling point.
  • Constantly review the status of your employee relations and workplace culture, and act to make positive changes that promote teamwork, employee loyalty and mutual respect.

Outsourcing Can Help

hireVision offers many employee relations services that can help your company. Our HR DirectLink services are targeted outsourced HR processes that help companies provide more of what employers and employees need to help keep workplaces productive, positive and profitable. Our myLink hotline reporting services can also help you address issues in the ranks before they get out of hand, as well as give your employees a sense that you are providing them with a place to have their voices be heard. HR DirectLink and myLink are not call centers, but customized human resources services that become so integrated into your workplace, you’ll think we’re sitting in the office next door. (And, if that’s what you need, we can be sitting right there, too.)

Interested in learning more? Use the form below or call us at 610-443-0119 to discuss how hireVision’s HR Partnering Services can help.




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