I love your column. Your advice is usually spot on and with a sense of humor. But last week you said a company can fire its employees for organizing a walkout when in fact that activity is protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. What gives, G-man?
What gives is the G-man wasn’t precise. I revised my answer online to explain my response and to be more accurate. So, thank you to all my dedicated readers for holding me to account. To clarify: The National Labor Relations Act does outline certain employee organizing activities that are generally protected. However, not every activity comes under that provision. An employer can fire employees — and legally argue the case in court — on the basis that the specific activities the employees engaged in were not protected under that section. Since it’s legally risky, I was clear that I would never recommend an employer take such a stand. Even if the walkout was upheld by the courts, the reputational, professional and morale damage is great. The bottom line of my advice still stands. Employees absolutely should fearlessly speak up for themselves, but I advise them to first pursue other, less provocative courses of action to remedy workplace issues and escalate only as necessary. That’s prudent and professional.
It’s approaching the dreaded company holiday party season. Is it a career-limiting move not to attend?
On the contrary, it’s often a career-limiting move to attend. The combination of alcohol, food and music often makes otherwise sane, rational people lose their minds — or at least their perspective and good judgment. At company holiday parties, I’m like Chief Brody in “Jaws” walking the beach on the Fourth of July looking for any signs of danger in the waters. It’s not a social party with friends and it is definitely not the place to let your freak flag fly. It’s a work event full of career-limiting tripwires. Show up, smile, thank the organizer, shake hands with your boss, grab nothing more than a passed hors d’oeuvre, sip a seltzer and keep your job for another day. Have fun.
Gregory Giangrande is a chief human resources and communications officer in the media industry. Email your career questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande. His “Go to Greg” podcast series is available on iTunes.
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