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Are You Committing These Toxic Email Blunders?
October 11, 2011


Employee Rights News You Can Use



FMLA leave for "possible" serious illness...

If you think you may possibly have a serious illness a recent court case has ruled you can take FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) leave to see a qualified medical professional. The lawsuit (Baucom v. Cabarrus Eye Center) is the case in point. Melody Baucom and employee of Cabarrus Eye Center requested FMLA to see a doctor about growths on her cervix.

Her employer refused saying she didn't qualify for FMLA because she didn't suffer from a qualifying "serious health condition". Her employer also stated Ms. Baucom hadn't been previously ill or incapacitated for the FMLA required three consecutive calendar days.

Cabarrus told Melody she could only use (PTO) personal time off for the medical appointment. Her employer knowing she had no PTO left said she would be terminated if she kept the appointment. Ms. Baucom kept the medical appointment and was fired by Cabarrus. Melody filed a lawsuit claiming she was eligible to use FMLA for the medical testing.

The court agreed with her! The decision said a doctor's appointment to get results to determine if a serious health condition exists can be covered under FMLA. If your boss denies you from taking FMLA leave to see if you are suffering from a serious health condition it may be a good idea to tell them about this case.

**What matters to to help my fellow employee!**

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Date October 11, 2011

Issue #31


Your Basic Employee Rights Survey results!

I want to thank everyone that participated in my last survey. It answered some important questions. I will be conducting a NEW survey soon! The objective will again be...

(1) What is the #1 workplace issue that concerns or affects you?

(2) How can better address those concerns?

That said....

So let's get to it!



Are You Committing These Toxic Email Blunders?

Hello Fellow Employee!

I was torn between topics this month then I remembered how workplace emails can be used to the employees advantage and disadvantage. Several years ago as a weapon of retaliation a former employer tried to violate my ADA (American With Disabilities Act)rights in an attempt to harass and intimidate me.

My immediate supervisor used the company email to communicate their intent to "force" me to perform a physical job function for which an accommodation under ADA I clearly qualified for. Since my employer "assumed" I was as ignorant of my ADA rights as they were I used email to respond. Every time the supervisor would make a new attempt to harass I would ask, "Since the ADA says this how does the company justify that?"

Well, he had little or no clue about the ADA so he was being used as proxy by HR and the legal department. However, they didn't get involved until a nice email paper trail had been created for me to use. I was able to prove from the employers' own emails its attempts to violate my ADA rights. If my employer had known up front how their own email system could be used against them, they certainly wouldn't have gone down that trail.

You know I'm always preaching Learn Your Basic Employee Rights! I did exactly that with the ADA and was prepared for the attack. Many bosses with "bad faith" intent will hang themselves with poorly executed attempts to scare you into "a sense of helplessness". I'll say it again and again, when we are armed with the knowledge and wisdom to apply our workplace rights, the ability and confidence to defend them is priceless!

Let me get down from the soapbox and back to the email blunders you should avoid and the employer commonly makes. ;0)

The first thing employees and management MUST understand is email is never deleted! There's a not so old saying, "E in email means Eternal". Email data can easily be retrieved or "undeleted" from network servers and databases. Now, on the workplace email blunders.

Violations of Policy
You receive an email from a manager or co-worker containing a picture of a little boy looking under and lifting the dress of a little girl. There's a "cute" seemingly harmless joke attached. This could easily become a sexual harassment or gender discrimination claim.

Comments on Illegal Acts
I'm constantly amazed at how stupid and naive those in the workplace are about this. For example, a manager emails an employee, "Purchasing knew those government grants were going to be spent for manager bonuses and not make the main office entrance ADA complaint". Huh??

Improper or Inappropriate
Ever receive or send an email like, "Man...Sherry (the manager) got drunk at the party last night and left with Brian (not her husband).

Demeaning or Insulting
"Thanks for "@#$%* up" another project. Were you a special education student? This could be a problem on several levels especially if the email comments come from a manager.

HIPPA OR Medical Records Confidentiality
For example, "Suzie Q who works in accounting hysterectomy went well however, there were a few complications. She will need radiation for the cancer that was found." Emails such as this are routinely sent to individuals and globally within and outside organizations.

The Unending Re:
One the most annoying and possibly indicting things is the never ending threads. Many times the info shared by all who reply to the original post are a waste of time. The other downside is the more people involved and the longer the thread the greater the possibility of something damaging to management or employees.

The other thing employees especially should be mindful of is WHO owns the email. Let's see...

  • The employer owns the pc's and laptops unless otherwise designated.
  • The employer owns the email system.
  • The employer owns the business.
  • The employer owns or contracts the computer network.
The employer also owns the legal liability for its email system. However, employees better be alert to abide by any email usage policies the company has in place. For two important reasons...

(1) Any email correspondence you hit send on CAN and WILL be used against you.

(2) Any email correspondence your boss hits send on CAN and SHOULD be used against them (if needed).

Until next time as always.....

Be something good to someone!


Employee Rights Educator, Coach, Trainer, Advocate, Internet Presence Consultant (work in progress) =================================================

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Written by Yancey Thomas Jr.


(c)copyright 2011


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