A Valentine’s Workplace Tale

first_imgTHIS BLOG SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE, PERTAINING TO SPECIFIC FACTUAL SITUATION OR ESTABLISHING AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. Well, there are now fewer calls to the phone banks of plaintiffs’ lawyers’ as most problems resulting from holiday parties already have been raised.  But plaintiffs’ lawyers have no fear: there will be a salvo of calls after Valentine’s Day.  And that reminds me of a story.It is 9:00 a.m.  A secretary reports to her desk.  Waiting for her is a sealed card.The secretary opens the envelope and it is a Valentine’s Day card from her manager.  Having undergone sensitivity training, the manager signs it “fondly” as opposed to “lovingly.”The employee is creeped out and goes to HR. HR talks with the manager based on a script we had prepared together.HR asks the manager if he knows why the card is inappropriate.  He responds “No.”HR asks the manager to whom else he gave a Valentine’s Day card and he answers, “his wife.”  Again, it is asked:  “Do you know why card was inappropriate?”  Again, he answers “No.”We now take out the crow bar.  Is there anything you do with your wife in privacy that you don’t do with secretary?  Ding. Ding. Ding.Of course, we did not directly ask the last question, but we get the message across.We explained to him that employees can be “so sensitive” when their bosses tell them:To the love of my lifeI cherish our moments togetherI love youRecommendation: A little email education on this issue to your managers now could save your company a lot of money later.  It’s not complicated: don’t give employees in your chain of command, or over whom you have direct or indirect influence, a Valentine’s Day card. There is some risk in giving cards to peers. But in the absence of a power differential, that risk is less.Of course, that does not mean that everyone who sends a Valentine’s Day card is intending to convey a romantic message.  After all, there are now Valentine’s Day cards for parents, kids, etc.For some, the Valentine’s Day card is simply a way to say you are important to me.  The problem is the nature of the holiday may confuse the reason as to why the employee is important.Yes, Valentine’s Day this year falls on a Saturday, so there will be fewer cards. That means even hungrier plaintiffs’ lawyers to fall in love with you.last_img

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