10 workplace myths busted


Off-Topic Discussions


Saw this article on yahoo, thought I'd share...

Yahoo! wrote:

10 Workplace Myths Busted

By US News– Thu, Nov 17, 2011 2:32 PM EST.. .

By Alison Green

For a place that we spend so much time in, there are a surprising number of myths about the workplace. Here are 10 of the most common myths about work life, debunked.

1. Myth: If your boss is unfair or hostile, you might have legal recourse.

Fact: It's not illegal for your boss to be unfair or a jerk. It's unwise, but it's not illegal. The exception to this: If your boss is being a jerk to you because of your race, gender, religion, or other protected class, then you do have legal options. But most jerky bosses act like jerks because that's just the way they are, and that's legal.

2. Myth: The First Amendment protects your ability to say what you want at work.

Fact: The First Amendment prevents the government from restricting your speech, but not a private employer. In most states, an employer can fire you for what you say at work, or even outside of work. (An exception to this is if you're organizing coworkers about wages or working conditions.)

3. Myth: HR's main function is to help employees.

Fact: HR is there to serve the needs of the business; its loyalty and responsibilities are to the employer. In some cases, that means helping out employees--because it's in the best interests of the employer to retain great employees, hear about and address bad managers, stop legal problems before they explode, and so forth. But plenty of other times, what's best for the employer is not what's best for the employee, and the best interests of the employer will always win out.

4. Myth: HR has to keep things confidential if you request it.

Fact: HR reps aren't doctors or priests; you shouldn't assume confidentiality when talking to them. If an HR rep hears information that she judges needs to be shared or used to address a situation, her job obligates her to do that. A parallel: Imagine you're a computer programmer and you learn there's a serious bug in the software you're working on. If you do nothing, you'd be being negligent and not doing your job. It's the same thing with HR.

Now, in some cases, you can talk to HR in confidence if you explicitly work out an understanding of confidentiality before you share. But there are also cases where HR is required to report things (such as concerns about harassment or illegal behavior), no matter how vehemently the employee requests confidentiality.

5. Myth: An employer needs to warn you or at least give you a reason before firing you.

Fact: Unless you have an employment contract (which most employees in the U.S. don't), you're considered an at-will employee. That means that your employer can fire you at any time, without warning, for any reason or no reason at all. Your boss can fire you because she doesn't like your laugh or the color of your tie. The only exceptions: You can't be fired if the reason for your firing is your race, religion, sex, national origin, or membership in another legally protected class.

6. Myth: You can't get unemployment benefits if you're fired.

Fact: People often think that only laid-off employees are eligible for unemployment benefits. But in most states, fired employees can collect too, as long as they weren't fired for intentional misconduct. (In other words, being fired for poor performance won't generally make you ineligible.)

7. Myth: Employers can't give references beyond just confirming your title and dates of employment.

Fact: Giving detailed, honest references is legal. It's true that some companies, in an effort to avoid the headache of nuisance lawsuits, have implemented policies that they'll only confirm dates of employment and title. As a result, many people have come to believe that it's actually illegal to give a bad reference. But corporate policies aren't the law. They're often not even followed by the companies that have them. It's both legal and common for employers to give detailed references--and a surprising number of references are either lukewarm or bad.

8. Myth: Your employer can't require you to attend work-related events outside of regular work hours.

Fact: Whether it's a client dinner or a training class, your employer can indeed require you to attend events outside of your usual work hours.

9. Myth: If you disagree with a performance review, you should refuse to sign it.

Fact: Signing a performance review doesn't mean you agree with it; you're simply indicating that you received it. (And if you're uncertain about that, you can always voice your disagreement and write, "Signing to acknowledge receipt only.") Refusing to sign has no practical purpose and will just get you labeled as adversarial and difficult.

10. Myth: Salaries are set fairly.

Fact: A coworker doing the same job as you might make more or less than you for doing the same work. Salaries vary for all sorts of reasons: one person was a better negotiator than the other when first being hired, or the job market was tighter when she was hired, or she has a particular degree or skill set that the company rewards, or the budget for her department is different than yours, or her boss is a nightmare and the company pays people working for him a premium.

Link


It makes me laugh when people think HR is their friend. The employee isn't paying HR's salary. ;-)

Shadow Lodge

Every now and then I'm glad to be part of the military.


I had a conversation similar to whats in the article.
"Just go to HR."

Not the best answer, usually. If you're in a situation where that's your best bet, most likely it's better to find another job.


Kryzbyn wrote:

I had a conversation similar to whats in the article.

"Just go to HR."

Not the best answer, usually. If you're in a situation where that's your best bet, most likely it's better to find another job.

Unless of course you want to make everything nice and legal for your innevetable discriminaiton lawsuit. EIther way though job hunting is a good idea.


Well, the convo was about our boss' sense of fairness, with regard to workload and expectations, not discrimination.

If it were discrimination, I would have counseled otherwise.


I think 4 and 8 have holes in them, but ill have to look into them another time, as I am typing on the phone. In my experience, a company can't make you do anything they are not willing to compensate you to do, and hr has some very serious restrictions with what they can tell others. I would amend number 4 to "hr is not your friend" and number 8 to "always check the job description/contract"


HEPA might be a hole freehold DM but I don't know that for sure.

I had a case of at will employment where they literally changed the policy from one day to the next (indeed sometimes by the hour) to fire those they wanted to and keep those they wanted to.

They got away with it because every copy of the employee handbook specifically stated that it wasn't up to date and the company could change what was in it at will.


Funny HR confidentiality story:

I was working at Tower Records in Honolulu doing shipping & receiving. I'm sitting at my desk doing some paperwork when the asst. manager calls me into the general manager's office. He doesn't look happy. When I get inside he shuts the door behind me. The GM is sitting behind his desk and tells me they have HR in the home office in Sacramento on the phone. Uh oh. Then, once he has me sweating, he tells me that I'm not in trouble. He introduces me to the woman on the phone, who says I was named as a witness to an incident of sexual harassment and they'd like me to make a statement about the incident.

Okay, then. I tell her I'd be happy to help. She asks if I know the definition of sexual harassment. I say I do. She gives a definition and a few examples to ensure I do. I say I understand. Then she gives me a date and a time and asks me to tell her what I know. Drawing a blank, I ask who it was that made the claim. She says she can't tell me. I ask who the person that harassed them was. She says she can't tell me.

I'm sitting there stumped. I told her that when I'm working in the back room I see and hear all kinds of things that could be construed as sexual harassment --horseplay, off-color jokes, personal conversations-- and couldn't recall anything where anyone seemed upset or raised a fuss. So unless she gave me some background so I could remember exactly what the incident was, I couldn't help. She sounded very put out and thanked me for my time. I never did find out exactly what it was or who was involved. No one suddenly quit, or was terminated, or sent to sensitivity training. Confidentiality apparently didn't work out in that instance.


1-There are laws on the books in some states about creating a hostile work environment. Generally though all they end up being is an employee's ability to collect unemployment after quitting if he can prove there was a hostile working environment.

#8 also, this is pretty vague. If it's an agreed part of the position of course they can compel you. If you're working at McDonald's your boss can't make you pick up his dry cleaning on Tuesday evenings because it's outside the purview of your established job duties.


Shadowborn wrote:
Funny HR confidentiality story

This is woefully off topic but very similar. I went on a trip up through Canada a couple years back. When I got back into the states I got a call from Visa security about some suspicious charges. I ask what was the charge for? She can't say, that would be a breach of security. How much was the charge for, I ask. She can't say, that would be a breach of security. So she calls to verify whether suspicious charges on my card are valid or not, but can't give me any information about the charges. How on earth am I meant to verify them? I shouted some obscenities and hung up.


meatrace wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Funny HR confidentiality story
This is woefully off topic but very similar. I went on a trip up through Canada a couple years back. When I got back into the states I got a call from Visa security about some suspicious charges. I ask what was the charge for? She can't say, that would be a breach of security. How much was the charge for, I ask. She can't say, that would be a breach of security. So she calls to verify whether suspicious charges on my card are valid or not, but can't give me any information about the charges. How on earth am I meant to verify them? I shouted some obscenities and hung up.

That's weird. If I call my bank to ask about transactions on my notice, they're free to discuss it once they verify my identity. You'd think a credit card company could do the same thing, especially if they call you about it. For something that's supposed to increase efficiency, bureaucracy sure does gum up the works to the point of stupidity.


Shadowborn wrote:
meatrace wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Funny HR confidentiality story
This is woefully off topic but very similar. I went on a trip up through Canada a couple years back. When I got back into the states I got a call from Visa security about some suspicious charges. I ask what was the charge for? She can't say, that would be a breach of security. How much was the charge for, I ask. She can't say, that would be a breach of security. So she calls to verify whether suspicious charges on my card are valid or not, but can't give me any information about the charges. How on earth am I meant to verify them? I shouted some obscenities and hung up.
That's weird. If I call my bank to ask about transactions on my notice, they're free to discuss it once they verify my identity. You'd think a credit card company could do the same thing, especially if they call you about it. For something that's supposed to increase efficiency, bureaucracy sure does gum up the works to the point of stupidity.

Could have been a scam. This would be a fairly easy one to set up for someone that you had a charge with (such as at a restaurant).

You take the contact information with the card number call the guy say you need to verify who he is, verify the card number is his, the expiration date then ask a 'security question' and then do some blah blah blah and 'thanks that clears it up' and hang up with everything you need to use the card on the internet.

Personally if I get such a call I tell them I'll be in to discuss it with them at their local branch due to the cards only being bank cards.


About number 8:

They can only do that if they pay you to be there, including overtime, and California at least has a 2 hour minimum (4 if it was scheduled more than that they sent you home early).

Of course, if you are exempt, they expect you to work whenever and wherever they need you to do so.


Abraham spalding wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
meatrace wrote:
Shadowborn wrote:
Funny HR confidentiality story
This is woefully off topic but very similar. I went on a trip up through Canada a couple years back. When I got back into the states I got a call from Visa security about some suspicious charges. I ask what was the charge for? She can't say, that would be a breach of security. How much was the charge for, I ask. She can't say, that would be a breach of security. So she calls to verify whether suspicious charges on my card are valid or not, but can't give me any information about the charges. How on earth am I meant to verify them? I shouted some obscenities and hung up.
That's weird. If I call my bank to ask about transactions on my notice, they're free to discuss it once they verify my identity. You'd think a credit card company could do the same thing, especially if they call you about it. For something that's supposed to increase efficiency, bureaucracy sure does gum up the works to the point of stupidity.

Could have been a scam. This would be a fairly easy one to set up for someone that you had a charge with (such as at a restaurant).

You take the contact information with the card number call the guy say you need to verify who he is, verify the card number is his, the expiration date then ask a 'security question' and then do some blah blah blah and 'thanks that clears it up' and hang up with everything you need to use the card on the internet.

Personally if I get such a call I tell them I'll be in to discuss it with them at their local branch due to the cards only being bank cards.

This might be in some cases, but the caller ID came up a legitimate # for Visa and they didn't ask me to confirm any such information, just some charges that they wouldn't list. Yes, it was incredibly weird.


#9--Of course, we don't really have performance reviews here in UPSland BUT the first piece of advice I give to new hires after they make their 30 days is: "Don't sign anything but your paycheck."

Warning letters? I refuse to sign. Safety audits? I refuse to sign. Did you receive this training? I refuse to sign. After a while, they stop asking you to sign anything.

Of course, here in UPSland, the Human Resources department is kind of a joke. No, I don't want to talk to the HR supervisor, I want my steward!

Silver Crusade

I wonder how this varies from country to country?

Liberty's Edge

As I was reading this I was kind of smirking to myself. I work for a tribal government and so everything here (and much more) was kind of a given for me, especially since we just went through an election for a new Chief.

Sovereign Court

#10 doesn't apply to me.

As a UK teacher, my pay is set on a scale that anyone can check. Past the top tier (5 years) I would have to take on specific responsibilities or go through specific performance reviews with extra-workload as a consequence if I wanted more money.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
GeraintElberion wrote:

#10 doesn't apply to me.

As a UK teacher, my pay is set on a scale that anyone can check. Past the top tier (5 years) I would have to take on specific responsibilities or go through specific performance reviews with extra-workload as a consequence if I wanted more money.

2) isn't true in the UK (no Constitution, so no first amendment but the psirit is there)

5) also isn't true here as you have to go throug several steps before you can get fired, icnluding warning letters. How can you be employes without a contract, btw? Surely something says "I will work for you in exchange for money and perks". What's that if not a contract ?Or does this have a specific meaning in US employment law.


Paul Watson wrote:


2) isn't true in the UK (no Constitution, so no first amendment but the psirit is there)

You have a constitution in the UK. It may not have a bill of rights but you still have a constitution.

Silver Crusade

Paul Watson wrote:
5) also isn't true here as you have to go throug several steps before you can get fired, icnluding warning letters. How can you be employes without a contract, btw? Surely something says "I will work for you in exchange for money and perks". What's that if not a contract ?Or does this have a specific meaning in US employment law.

In the US, a contract is an agreement to work for a specific span of time at a specific rate of pay. Neither side can end the contract unless they can demonstrate some sort of failure on the other party's part to carry out its responsibilities.

The vast majority of workers in the US are employed at will. That means that, at the time of hire, employees agree to work for the company in an arrangement that can be terminated by either party at any time for any reason (apart from discrimination based on a protected class, such as race, gender, or religion). Employers can change the job description, hours, or rate of pay at will as well (never retroactively), since employees are free to walk out at any time if the arrangement no longer suits them. It's all very amorphous.


FallofCamelot wrote:
I wonder how this varies from country to country?

1, 2 and 5 aren't the same in France.

1) there are harrassment laws protecting employees from wantonly abusive superiors. I'm speaking about suicide inducing behaviour here, not occasional snarks.

2) you can have your opinions, sort of, because your employer need to write down why he chose to fire you, which must be somehow related to your job performance if he doesn't want to pay damages. So, "I didn't like him because he's a socialist/gay/roleplayer/whatever" won't fly; but on the other hand, you'd better not be disruptive if you want to discuss your opinions and personal life at work.

5) see point above. We also have something like your contracts, with a fixed term for short term jobs.


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
It makes me laugh when people think HR is their friend. The employee isn't paying HR's salary. ;-)

HR is pure cost.

Shadow Lodge

Seven years since I saw this thread...


Kryzbyn wrote:
Yahoo! wrote:

10 Workplace Myths Busted

1. Myth: If your boss is unfair or hostile, you might have legal recourse.

Fact: It's not illegal for your boss to be unfair or a jerk.

This one made me laugh because I just finished my required annual sexual harassment training (if you're gonna do it, you might as well be good at it), and the *one* question I got wrong was one on this guy being a complete a****** and asking, "Is this verbal, written, or visual harassment?"

And the answer was, "It's not harassment because he's not targeting a protected group. It is not illegal to be a jerk."

So 7 years later, an eerily-similar quote.


Does a person have to have a job for these myths to personally apply?

Community / Forums / Gamer Life / Off-Topic Discussions / 10 workplace myths busted All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.