Tag Archives: Employee Rights Philosophy

Article “Understanding Conflict Dynamics” By J. Kim Wright

This is an interesting article about conflict resolution by J. Kim Wright, posted on the American Bar Association website.

The article is geared toward lawyers.  But its advice applies well for anyone involved in any type of conflict, including those of you involved in employment disputes.

The article describes five conflict-handling- personality traits: (1) the conflict avoider; (2) the accommodating style; (3) the competing style; (4) the compromising style; and (5) the collaborating style.

Each trait is discussed, as well as its pros and cons, and good and bad situations where each trait should be considered.

One described trait jumped out at me: the competing style, a type of communication I constantly see MISUSED in the employment context.  As the article puts it:

The competing style is assertive and uncooperative—a competing individual pursues his or her own concerns at the other person’s expense. This is a power-oriented mode, in which one uses whatever power seems appropriate to win one’s own position: one’s ability to argue, one’s rank, economic sanctions. Competing might mean “standing up for your rights,” defending a position that you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.

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Filed under Employee Info/Tips - Pre-Litigation - Problems At Job, Employee Tip - Problems at Job, Employment Law Resources, Philosophy - Employee Rights, Resources for WI Workers

Employment Law Case Summaries (For the Employment Lawyers Out There)

For the employment attorneys out there– this is a great blog with up-to-date employment law case summaries from all Circuits.

The blog is authored by Paul Mollica of the Chicago employment law firm Meites, Mulder, Mollica & Glink.  Paul is a great colleague for whom the term “lawyer’s lawyer” does not go far enough.

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Is This Your Job & Life? (Waking Life – Dreams for Free)

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“States’ Rights,” “Judicial Activists” and Other Distractions

There is an interesting brief here, titled “The Supreme Court’s Two-Front War on the Safety Net: A Cautionary Tale for Health Care Reformers,” by attorneys Simon Lazarus and Harper Jean Tobin of the National Senior Citizens Law Center.

The premise of the brief, in a nutshell, is this:

Over the last several decades, conservative members of the Supreme Court have: (1) used Federal-laws-are-supreme theories to weaken individuals’ rights under ERISA (the law that applies to most middle-class individuals’ health insurance benefits); and (2) used States-laws-are-supreme theories to weaken individuals’ rights under Medicaid laws (which apply to most lower-class individuals’ health insurance benefits).

The article argues that the common denominator of the SC’s legal decisions is not their oft-stated pro-“States’-rights” ideology, or their oft-stated pro-federal-law-supremacy ideology (these ideologies are of course contradictory).  Rather, the denominator ideology is to favor businesses’ interests over those of individuals.

Whether or not one believes this article is accurate, I must say I like its approach of looking at what the Court does as opposed to what it says.  One of my law school professors once likened watching court decisions to watching mice run in a maze.  The chatter is not as important as where they go.

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Three Words You Should Never Say in an Employment Dispute

The late George Carlin famously spoke about seven words you can’t say on TV.

Not one to miss a chance to co-opt, I will offer you three words you should NEVER utter in an employment dispute.

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Filed under Employee Tip - Considering a Legal Action, Employee Tip - Problems at Job, Philosophy - Employee Rights, Unemployment - Wisconsin

“You’re Absolutely Right, John,” But Criticism of Obama’s Goodwill is Off the Mark

Has our country really devolved to the point where if you indicate agreement with another person about a point- about a principle- that this somehow makes you weaker than the person you are agreeing with? Does your agreement on a particular point mean that you are agreeing with your opponent whole scale, about every issue? Does your agreement mean you are conceding, whole scale, that the other person is better-qualified than you to handle an assortment of diverse issues?

These are apparently the assumptions of John McCain and his advisors, whose ad campaign now includes clips of Barack Obama at the debate, stating his agreements with McCain on various points: “You’re right, John.” “You’re absolutely right, John.”

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Link of Note: “5 Questions That Will Change Your Life”

Employees, employers, retirees and everyone else should check out this outstanding post by Professional Life Coach Tim Brownson: “5 Questions That Will Change Your Life.” Mr. Brownson arms readers with 5 questions that you should ask when facing any important life decision- I should note, these questions directly apply to any employment dispute or litigation that you are considering.

The magic questions are these:

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Filed under Employee Tip - Considering a Legal Action, Employee Tip - Problems at Job, Philosophy - Employee Rights

Individual Rights, Gerry Spence Blog

Anyone interested in individual rights and the law should check out this new blog by renowned trial lawyer Gerry Spence.

Mr. Spence comments about his most closely-held views, many certain to raise controversy.  This includes his views that individuals are being oppressed by corporations and government on a large scale, and are oppressed to the extent that he regards ourselves as “slaves” to these larger forces, and to our failures to liberate ourselves.

Whether or not you agree with these views, you will likely find them relevant.  Mr. Spence undoubtedly possesses one of the big character trait he promotes: authenticity.

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Cloverleaf On-Ramps and the Law

When I was in law school, a professor discussed an interesting analogy.  It involved the invention of cloverleaf-shaped on-ramps.  The new on-ramps were self-imposed structures, which- like the self-imposition of new laws- improved safety and prevented us from making human errors.

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Employee Types

This management seminar flier categorizes different types of problem employees (e.g. “The Gossip,” “The Excuse Artist”), and offers ways to deal with each employee personality type.

I think it is usually counterproductive to give people labels.  For example, if a manager tells an employee that he is “The Gossip”- or if the manager merely believes the employee can be reduced to a stereotypical icon like “The Gossip”- those beliefs or words can push the parties’ employment relationship in a negative direction.  In my own observation, employment disputes are resolved much better when management address employees in terms of behavior (e.g. manager tells an employee that “Gossiping is harmful, and I’d ask that you and others avoid it”) rather than labels that categorize a person (e.g. “You are a Gossiper”).

With that said, upon review of this full flier information and seminar description, I think that, for the most part, this seminar does address behaviors first, and promotes positive communications with employees.  (In other words, the seminar promises to tell managers how to communicate with employees about things like gossiping, and doing so in a constructive manner that does not offend the employees or make them defensive).

In my observation, when management encounters behavior types that are legitimately harmful (e.g. excuse-making) but communicates negatively to the employees about this (e.g. “You’re an Excuse Artist who never takes responsiblity for anything!”), then the first stone is cast, and escalating disputes and litigation are much more likely.

As I often find myself saying to employees (and the same holds true for management): When you are in a dispute, it is not enough to be right.  How you communicate is just as important, and often more important, than being right.  If you communicate negatively or unprofessionally, that distracts from the fact you are right, and makes people inclined to defensive or retaliatory behavior, as opposed to seeing the light.

Because this seminar appears to share this philosophy, I give it a thumbs up, for whatever the value of my little thumb in cyberspace is worth.

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