Workplace Q & A: Part 5

Q: Do I have to accept my manager’s request to be a friend on Facebook?

“My manager asked me to be his friend on Facebook. This makes me uncomfortable. Am I obligated to do it?”

A: No.

The best course of action is to ignore the request. If your manager brings it up at work, think of a neutral response that won’t offend him. For example, you could say that you use Facebook only for very close friends and family. Or you could respond that you rarely access Facebook, so you’ve decided not to add any new friends. If your manager insists, you may have to change your Facebook settings so that he can see only a bare minimum of information.

Generally managers should not ask employees to be connected on any social media channel. Nor should employees ask managers to befriend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or connect with them on Linked In.

The employee-manager relationship is not a relationship of equals. It’s a business relationship. Sure, you can get along with your boss. You can admire him. You can even be fond of him. But he’s not your friend.

Q: Do I have to attend my company’s diversity training?

“My company has been the target of several race discrimination suits. I was not personally accused of any misconduct, nor was I involved in the litigation in any way. The Human Resources Department has hired a consultant to do ‘diversity training’ and has mandated that everyone attend. Do I have to attend?”

A: Yes.

It’s not unreasonable for a company that has faced charges of discrimination to decide that the entire workforce could benefit from diversity training. It would be impractical even to attempt to single out those employees who are supposedly at higher risk of engaging in discrimination. And it would be stigmatizing, too.

My question to you is: Why wouldn’t you want to attend? Diversity training will teach you to see things from a different point of view. It will give you new skills that you can use inside and outside the workplace.

I can’t recall even one instance of an employee who claimed that he was harmed by diversity training. Once they’ve undergone diversity training, most employees tell how they now understand ideas that were once totally foreign to them.


Q: My co-worker’s ex-wife is harassing him. Any advice?

“I work for a big company. My co-worker’s former wife continues to harass him. She calls him and sends him offensive text messages constantly. Some of the emails that she sends him are obscene. It is interfering with his ability to get his work done. But he’s afraid to tell our supervisor because my co-worker has a messy history with this former wife. Any advice?”

A: Yes. He should contact corporate security.

Yes, he should contact corporate security. They will be able to change his telephone number at work or block certain calls. They can also block emails to his workplace email account. They can advise him how to set up the same safeguards for his personal telephone and email accounts. If your co-worker fears for his safety, your corporate security department can advise him how to apply for a restraining order or, at the very least, how to notify his local police about this woman’s actions.

You do not have a legal obligation to help your co-worker. Still, pointing him in the right direction looks like the right thing to do. You don’t have to inform your manager about the harassment your co-worker is experiencing or the advice that you’ve given him. If your manager needs to know, your corporate security officers will talk to him.

Copyright © 2013–2014 Johanna Harris

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post contains numerous questions describing common recurring problems in the workplace. The circumstances described in these questions, including the names of characters and business firms, are fictitious.

About the Author: Johanna Harris has been a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor and in-house labor counsel for two multinational corporations. She is currently the CEO of Hire Fire and Retire LLC. Her new book, USE PROTECTION: An Employee’s Guide to Advancement in the Workplace (i Book, Kindle, Amazon Paperback), is intended to help you learn enough about labor law and personnel practices so that you don’t get derailed from the career track you should be on.


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