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A colleague recently called me in tears after her boss saw her resume on Monster and told her to start looking for a new job. Turns out, she was given a positive review just a month before and was happy in her role. She had posted the resume a year or so ago and had recently checked her profile which caused the Monster profile to refresh. She'd like to stay in her role but doesn't think she'll have that option. She's already being shut out of discussions and decisions where she used to be an active participant. Any thoughts on advice to give her?

juliahhavener's picture

She only has one option: Talk to her boss. Openly, sincerely, and honestly.

Greenest's picture

I actually agree with the previous reply, but I am a sarcastic devil and too quick with the wit. My reply to being told to look for another job would have been "I already am!"

iainmagee's picture

If that's the way her boss behaves then maybe she ought to be looking for a new job!

trandell's picture

Only two choices. Speak with her boss or leave.

Mark's picture

Well, now... I'm not one to be shy about opinions, but generally refrain from "there's only one option."

When a boss says, "start looking for a job", that's pretty lame. If you really mean that, the solution is to pull the trigger THEN. Sounds like a shot across her bow.

I recommend she talk to her boss, depending upon a HUNDRED factors. Remember, how did she find this job? Was she looking? Was she supremely happy in her previous job and her boss ripped her away from heaven.? I doubt it.

When did she post it? How current? How far into her search is she?

"Boss, that just comes from lots I'm reading about managing one's career. I like it here, and want to stay. Sorry you saw it, and so sorry I posted it...but it doesn't mean what you think."

If he really meant that the resume was a firing offense, of course he's WRONG. But if she believes his threat, sure: turn the heat up on the search.

It's possible it will blow over...

She could also NOT talk to him, but send a mail saying she's removed it, and regrets the misunderstanding.

Too complex to narrow it down so fast!

Mark

cowie165's picture

Does the United States have any kind of unfair dismissal legislation?

Mark's picture

Uh, YES. Pages and pages of it.

But it wouldn't matter to a savvy manager. A clumsy one might run afoul of it, but one can avoid it.

Mark

cowie165's picture

So you do not need to justify firing someone? Yeah, I kinda gathered there would be pages of it, but that's why I'm wondering why we're talking about this employee needing to consider a new job.

An employee has a good reporting history but loses their job because they *may* have been seeking employment elsewhere? Just doesn't add up is all and I don't understand how a savvy manager could justify the dismissal.

Mark's picture

How do you go from yes we have them and a smart manager knows better to "you don't need to justify firing someone"?

Of course you do...but it's not because of the law.

And, any manager - ethical or unethical - can fire someone anywhere without too much trouble. How much work do YOU have left undone on your desk each day? How many mistakes can I see you make if I REALLY look? You can pile up the problems pretty quickly.

Of course, this manager we're talking about might just be stupid enough to fire for looking at other jobs...but what he surely would be banking on - if he thought about it - is the chance of a lawsuit being quite small.

Mark

kklogic's picture

While I certainly agree that the manager is wrong for making this threat, isn't it within their rights to do so under "employment at will?"

In the state I live in, you can quit or be let go without being given any reason at all. I realize there are laws to protect the employee if it was discrimination of some kind - but I would think (at least in this state), the employee would have no real recourse.

I'm not trying to be a contrarian - I just want to make sure I'm understanding the law properly.

bflynn's picture

The way the laws are enforced is where this gets tricky. (This is based on US law. Procedures in other countries are almost certainly different.) As a manager, EEOC laws are not there for you. They prevent you from taking certain actions you'd otherwise be legally and ethically entitled to take. Disclaimer - that this is how it was taught to me. If I have it wrong, someone who deals with this frequently, please correct me too. I am leaving out actual procedural steps since they're not really relevant to the answer.

If an employee is dismissed for any reason, they can file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC will inform the employer and probably start an investigation. During the EEOC investigation, they will determine if the dismissal represents a bias, either intentional or systemic. The reason for the dismissal and the historical performance of the employee are some of the factors to be taken into account. (O3s anyone?)

One of the tools used during the EEOC investigation is statistics, which can be used to show that your company has an unconscious bias toward discriminating against the protected class. If the statistical numbers are too far off the expected values, the EEOC can use these alone to declare that the bias exists. You must then prove that it doesn't. Since proving a negative is almost impossible, the claimant usually prevails.

The situation that you'd have to be in to have a problem would involve 1) a frivolous reason for firing, 2) a lack of documentation on employee performance and feedback and 3) a true or implied bias. If you can show good reasons for #1 and #2, #3 is much harder to show.

So, back to our original situation. There appears to be a frivolous reason. I would be very surprised if this manager were one that keeps MT type records and shares them with employees. So, that leaves #3. The manager is teetering dangerously close to a lot of grief.

Usually. Remember that these are procedures, not rules. Individual action will depend on the individual..

Helpful as a basic understanding?

Brian

kklogic's picture

Brian,
Many, many thanks. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain in that detail. As an employee in Ohio, you are led to believe that the "payoff" for being able to quit without reason is that your employer equally has the right to let you go without reason - given no discrimination is present. Obviously, this isn't something I believe is how you treat your employees - but it is, unfortunately, how many companies operate.

cowie165's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]How do you go from yes we have them and a smart manager knows better to "you don't need to justify firing someone"?
[/quote]
Sorry Mark, it was my sarcastic reply to "uh, YES. Pages and pages..." I should have used an emoticon. Point was, if we (you) have these laws, why do we even have this thread?

[quote="mahorstman"]
And, any manager - ethical or unethical - can fire someone anywhere without too much trouble. How much work do YOU have left undone on your desk each day? How many mistakes can I see you make if I REALLY look? You can pile up the problems pretty quickly.
[/quote]

Fair point, however that action indicates to me that the manager would be packing their desk right behind you. The laws are there to prevent that exact behaviour.

I can see any manager REPORTING whatever they like, but firing? Perhaps I'm just too low on the food chain in a public organisation :)

pmoriarty's picture

[quote="cowie165"]
I can see any manager REPORTING whatever they like, but firing? Perhaps I'm just too low on the food chain in a public organisation :)[/quote]

Many US states define the employer/employee relationship as [i]at-will[/i] which, simplistically put, means the employee can quit at any time for any reason without notice and the employee can terminate your employment at any time for any reason (barring those anti-discriminatory ones protected by law: race creed, color, sex, etc...).

Wikipedia has a good definition here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At_will_employment

Mark's picture

It's ABSOLUTELY reasonable for a company to be able to fire at will - call it termination, call it layoff, call it taking your job away - if you are able to quit at will.

It's not a payoff, it's just the result of a professional contract or compact. If the balance went too far in either direction, the underlying economic forces would skew unproductively.

If I counted the number of people who have quite without warning - jerk bosses or not - and compared it to the number of folks laid off, terminated, what have you, I suspect there might be something approaching a balance.

And none of this really matters. The question is what you (or I) would do.

Mark

cowie165's picture

Thanks Paul, I'd never heard of 'At Will Employment'; the Wikipedia link helped clear things up a LOT. Cheers.

I am required by law to provide 90-days notice if I wished to leave my organisation. The fastest I've seen someone's employment terminated is eight weeks - when I worked hard at it to move the person on. Usually takes a lot longer.

Different strokes down under it seems!

Cheers guys for your replies.