Welcome to the HR Law Insider

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.                             

Benjamin Franklin

The HR Law Insider’s objective is simple: engage and involve human resource professionals and companies in learning how to better run a business and manage employees. How can this be done though a weekly “blog”? Equally simple: by making the blog informative and entertaining.

The NFL’s recent fumbles provide the perfect fodder to start the journey. The league has learned that it is not exempt from real world laws and social movements. Lessons from the NFL’s struggles and snafus include:  “traditional,” old school way of doing things are oftentimes no longer acceptable — or legal; workplace investigations should be carefully planned and executed; and, when a company makes an initial mistake, it is near impossible to get the genie back in the bottle — so plan your strategy from the beginning.

The Minnesota Vikings recently learned — courtesy of punter Chris Kluwe — that Title VII applies on the rough and tumble practice field; there, an “old school” coach failed to understand the larger cultural shift towards tolerance of gay people. He consequently misjudged his strong-willed punter’s commitment to that cause and ability to sue the Vikings under Title VII . Was Kluwe fired because his yards per kick were down or because he complained about discrimination? The Vikings’ handling of the situation allowed Kluwe to make a cognizable argument for the latter. The case settled, but only after the Vikings sustained a huge black eye.

Players in the Miami Dolphins locker room apparently thought they too were exempt from Title VII’s rules. The result: the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito fiasco. Future HR Law Insider editions will discuss the failure of leadership which led to the Dolphins’ debacle and offer helpful insights on leadership strategies to avoid employee disputes.

The Ray Rice incident and aftermath could provide material for an entire course on human resource and public relations “dos” and “don’ts” — albeit the course instructor would struggle to find any “dos.”  How not to properly conduct a workplace investigation? Check. How not to implement and consistently enforce workplace misconduct policies? Check. How not to evaluate and decide upon an appropriate penalty for misconduct? The list goes on and on. The HR Law Insider will evaluate the best methods to navigate through workplace investigations and make reasoned decisions that will withstand public and legal scrutiny.

Future HR Law Insider blogs will tie-in to seasonal issues and stay current with societal shifts. In November, for example, we will address the upcoming holiday season, including how businesses can make sure their Christmas or other holiday party doesn’t turn into a liability producing event (e.g. employee gets drunk and runs over valet).

In addition to containing lots content to help human resource professionals and businesses better run their operations, each HR Law Insider article will conclude with an entertaining tidbit relevant to the topic at hand. This week, in honor of the NFL and any business confronting chaos and trying to “get it right,” Shawn Colvin performs “Shotgun Down the Avalanche.” The first video below is to Ms. Colvin’s haunting ballad; the second video relates to how I discovered the song. The video shows ski-mountaineer, Kevin Grove (who I was lucky enough to meet on a trail last summer) making an admittedly huge mistake by creating an avalanche that nearly carries him to his doom. Fortunately, Kevin had the skills to immediately grasp the problem and “fix it” by skiing to safety. We should all be so skilled and fortunate when faced with life’s avalanches. Enjoy the ride:


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