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"HEAD TO TOE SCRUTINIZED, PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS, & STILL UNEMPLOYED!"
Dear Kathryn:In my quest for a new job, I succumbed to being examined head to toe by a prospective employer. Even enduring four in-depth interviews, personality testing and then background checked, I was convinced the job and company was worth it. Boy, was I wrong. When I first applied to this major, international company, it was explained at the outset that a credit check, background check and a criminal check would be required in order for the offer to go through. At that time, I received a verbal offer of employment with a start date and stated salary as well as a start date. Again the human resource director explained the offer was contingent upon the successful credential check. Having been through that numerous times before, I wasn't worried, so submitted my resignation letter. All of the checks returned with flying colors but still no official offer letter or start date! When I called the human resource rep inquiring where the offer letter was, I was told the person that was in the job hadn't been fired yet. Until that happened, they couldn't give me a start date! Kathryn, I was never informed they had to fire someone in order for me to have this job. I would have never given my notice! My last day at my current job is in one week. I have no further word on the start date and my job here has already been filled. What are my options??
SUSAN R., Wallingford, CT
Dear Susan:This is an unfair situation, and the news I have to deliver, unfortunately, is not good. I consulted Attorney Henry Zaccardi and he says you will need to prove "detrimental reliance." Your word that they said "the job is yours if the background checks are ok" is just that-your word against theirs. Not having a written offer letter spelling that out means you don't have any concrete proof of the terms of the offer. Your choices are these-apply for unemployment compensation; consult an attorney who specializes in employee representation in employment law cases; or, appeal to the human resource representative and the manager you interviewed with, trying to determine whether this job will go though in the next few weeks. Lesson learned-never give your notice until the offer letter with a start date and compensation outline is in your hands.
Dear Kathryn:I have an employee whose world revolves around gin and tonics and I want no part of him. I get calls to my cell phone at 6am from this drunken employee explaining he won't be in because of his bad hangover. I want to terminate this person but am concerned about the crazy laws that may not permit me to do so. This employee attended AA in the past and I am wondering whether he has some kind of protected status. We have sixty employees and can't afford this kind of crazy behavior. It's a well known fact that he keeps a bottle in his desk and frequently has smelled like a brewery. I want to lose this dead weight but don't want to find, after the fact, that I didn't follow the right steps.
Rob P., Wethersfield, CT
Dear Rob:You're wise to analyze this potential problem before leaping forward. In order to give you a sure-fire answer, however, a bit more information would be necessary. Let's first assume that this person never approached you regarding rehab, where a health care provider certifies his alcoholism. If that statement is correct, then you would not be bound by any state or federal law to retain him. Taking the opposite side, if the employee had come to you with a doctors recommendation for rehab, then you would be mandated under the Family and Medical Leave Act (employers with over 50 employees fall under FMLA) to accommodate him for rehab. If this person went to attend rehab, you couldn't terminate him while he's in treatment, nor would it be wise to fire him immediately coming out of rehab when returning to work. Given that he's not in treatment presently, you can terminate him. Keep in mind the following advice from Attorny Zaccardi: Identify specific behaviors that are unacceptable and document them. For example, document his performance failings, attendance issues, and if he's ever been drunk on the premises. You want to show that he has not met the performance requirements the position requires. It's the ultimate safe route to warn him of his performance issues, but it is not mandatory to provide the warning before the termination. Again, I feel you should visit counsel with the complete facts before stepping forward. For other employers out there, the FMLA Act only affects employers with over fifty employees. Keep in mind however, that in the State of CT, an employer with more than three employees is monitored by the state under the CT Fair Employment Practices Act.
Dear Kathryn:I've got a brilliant young employee that I'd like to see get more involved in dealing with our firm's clients. The problem is that there's a definite "charm quotient" that's lacking. I don't mean the niceties or normal social quips that are part of everyday life, but he seems to lack the ability to communicate in a positive manner. I'm planning on having him attend some Dale Carnegie-type classes, but wondered if you had any other suggestions.
STEVE R., Wethersfield, CT
Dear Steve:Boy, do I! Rarely am I so enthusiastic about a book, but I have to tell you-I read this one cover to cover in two sittings, it was so motivating! Check out Brian Tracy and Ron Arden's The Power of Charm, an Amacom publication. After reading only three chapters your employee will have a few easy to apply techniques that are guaranteed winners. I'd not only recommend it as part of your mentoring program, I'd recommend it to anyone that ever deals with people! Even your own personal relationships will benefit from this read. This book truly shows you that charm can be learned and once you read it and apply their suggestions, I predict you'll be not only delighted with the result it achieves, but you'll enjoy the process. Let me know the outcome.