R-E-S-P-E-C-T: It’s Critical to Job Satisfaction

A recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) found the largest percentage of employees (65 percent) felt respectful treatment of all employees at all levels was a very important contributor to their job satisfaction.

Only 38 percent of the 600 employees polled in the annual survey said they were “very satisfied” that all employees are treated respectfully.

It is the third consecutive year that the annual SHRM survey has reported that respectful treatment of workers is critical to job satisfaction. The survey found that workers differ in how they perceive the importance of respect, and how much respect they actually feel:

  • Female employees were more likely (72%) to report that respect is a very important contributor to job satisfaction than male employees (57 percent).
  • Millennials were more likely  (45 percent)  to be very satisfied with the amount of respect they are accorded when compared with Generation Xers (31 percent). It is interesting that no figure was provided in the SHRM survey for the percentage of Baby Boomers who are satisfied with the amount of respect they are accorded – which may say something about the degree of respect accorded to Boomers.
  • Individual contributors were less likely (31 percent) to be very satisfied with the level of respect shown to all employees compared with executives (52 percent).

Other top contributors to job satisfaction were compensation/pay; trust between employees and senior management; job security; and opportunities to use skills and abilities.

The report notes that an EEOC task force recently reported that encouraging workplace civility and respect could minimize the risk of inappropriate conduct escalating to a level of harassment.

The SHRM Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey polled 600 randomly selected U.S. employees in December 2016. The survey examined 44 aspects of job satisfaction and 38 factors directly related to employee engagement.  The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5% percentage points.

SHRM  is the world’s largest HR professional society, representing about 285,000 members in more than 165 countries.

Wells Fargo Whistle-Blowers Wait for Justice

Among the casualties in the Wells Fargo Bank scandal are many employees who were allegedly bullied and fired for refusing to engage in unethical practices.

What has happened to them since the news faded from the headlines points up a new scandal – the lack of any real protection for workers who refuse to engage in illegal acts or who participate in whistle-blowing.

Many of the Wells Fargo ex-workers’ complaints have been pending with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)  for years without action.

Earlier this year, Wells Fargo paid $190 million in fines to federal and state authorities after acknowledging that its employees covertly opened as many as two million checking and credit card accounts without the customers’ authorization.  The bank, which fired 5,300 employees for improper sales tactics over a five-year period, finally changed its practice of requiring workers to meet unrealistic sales goals o  Jan. 1.

Many of the fired workers claim they were terminated because they refused to engage in or complained about Wells Fargo’s unethical practices. At least a dozen current and former Wells Fargo workers filed complaints with OSHA; some date back more than a decade.

OSHA finally took some action last month when it ordered Wells Fargo to rehire one whistle-blower, a wealth manager who was not named but who was fired in 2010 after he reported suspected fraud via Wells Fargo’s ethics hotline. OSHA ordered Wells Fargo to pay the ex-manager $5.4 million in back pay, damages and attorneys’ fees.  Wells Fargo has announced it will fight the ruling. Meanwhile, the whistle-blower. who filed his OSHA complaint in 2011, said he has been unable to find a new job since he was fired.

OSHA HAS BEEN CRITICIZED FOR NOT MOVING FAST ENOUGH TO INVESTIGATE COMPLAINTS FILED BY CURRENT AND FORMER WELLS FARGO EMPLOYEES WHO SAY THEY WERE FIRED BECAUSE THEY REFUSED TO ENGAGE IN OR COMPLAINED ABOUT UNETHICAL BEHAVIORS.

A second whistle-blower, retail banker Claudia Ponce de Leon, complained  that she was fired in 2011 about three weeks after calling Wells Fargo’s ethics line to report that bankers under her supervision in Southern California were opening client accounts without permission to meet sales goals.  Her lawyer was quoted  by Reuters last year as stating that she had not yet been interviewed by OSHA.

Meanwhile, some ex-employees of Wells Fargo have turned to the courts.

Melinda Bini, a former manager of Wells Fargo’s Highland Park branch  in New Jersey,  filed a state court lawsuit last month stating she was fired for refusing to manipulate accounts and sell products that weren’t in the customers’ best interests. A former assistant vice-president, she is seeking her job back and damages.

In a sharp contrast to the plight of these whistle-blowers, all 15 members of the Wells Fargo’s board of directors who were nominated for new terms were retained in April, and a stockholder proposal calling for a new report on the root causes of the scandal  failed to receive majority support.

Reuters reported that  the Office of the Comptroller of the Currently, the lead regulator for banks, last month stripped the senior most bank examiner for Wells Fargo, Bradley Linskens, of his supervisory powers.

More Self-Inflicted Wounds? Fox Hit With Race Discrimination Lawsuits

It was humming along, the major cable news network in America, raking in billions in profits.

Now Fox News  has lost (forced out) its visionary chief executive officer, Roger Ailes, and its top star,  Bill OReilly, both accused of sexual harassing female subordinates for decades.  Fox  paid  Ailes and OReilly tens of millions in severance to leave, not to mention millions in damages to their alleged victims.

And now Fox is reeling from a second wave of discrimination complaints – this time involving race discrimination. A Fox News spokesperson has denied the claims and said the network will “vigorously defend these cases.”

Two black women who worked in the Fox News payroll department, Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright, filed a race discrimination lawsuit   in New York state court on March 28 alleging  that Fox Controller Judith Slater, who was fired by Fox on Feb. 28, subjected “dark-skinned employees” to racial animus.

Eleven past and present Fox workers joined the lawsuit Tuesday, complaining that they were  humiliated, paid less than white coworkers and passed over for promotions.

Kelly Wright, a two-time Emmy award winner and former long-time co-host of Fox and Friends. Wright complains that he was  “effectively sidelined” because of his race and “asked to perform the role of a ‘Jim Crow’ – the racist caricature of a Black entertainer.”

Meanwhile, Adasa Blanco, who worked in Fox News’ accounts payable department from 2005 to 2013,  filed a separate race discrimination lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. She claims Fox knew about Slater “for more than eight years and then feigned … to the media and public that it terminated her immediately upon learning that she engaged in discriminatory conduct.”

What if?

One is left to wonder what would have happened if 21st Century Fox, the owner of Fox News, had made it clear to Ailes a couple of decades ago that the company was actually serious about its anti-harassment policy? And what if 21st Century Fox had insisted that everyone, including Ailes, was required to follow that policy.

Harassment complaints often are difficult  for a company. They sometimes boil down to “he said, she said.”  When that happens, the Human Resources Department has tools in its arsenal to ferret out the truth.

At some point, for example, Fox could have commissioned a “360 degree” survey of all workers in Judith Slater’s department to ascertain whether these workers felt that they were being subjected to discriminatory animus. Corrective measures could have been put in place, including Slater’s ouster.

The saga of Fox News should serve as a wake-up call to every American employer.

If you don’t have an anti-harassment policy, you should adopt one. If you have one, you should enforce it,  from the top down.

Failure to adopt and enforce an anti-harassment policy can lead to unnecessary (and sometimes even fatal) wounds that are all the more painful because they are self-inflicted.

 

Would the Framers’ Allow Signs that Create a Disturbance?

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, a proponent of U.S. President Donald Trump, has adopted a “code of conduct” for a planned  town meeting  tomorrow at the  Mesa Convention Center, near Phoenix.

It is likely that some people in Sen.Flake’s district are upset with his support of Trump’s agenda, particularly that part of the agenda which threatens reasonable labor protections,  meaningful health care for all, and environmental regulations that may just save the world for one more generation. It’s even possible that things will get uncomfortable for Sen. Flake, a former executive director of the Goldwater Institute.

So. Sen. Flake, who was elected to the Senate in 2013, has published a code of conduct for the meeting that contains the following provisions:

  • “Attendees with signs, banners or objects that create a disturbance will not be admitted.”
  • “To ensure a safe, enjoyable, and productive town hall, all attendees must comply with posted and audible instructions and failure to comply will result in immediate removal.”
  • “Constituents may begin to park or line up on the property one hour before the program begins. Doors will open an hour before the program begins.”

A progressive feminist nitpicker might find fault with Sen. Flake’s code of conduct. For one thing, the code seems designed to limit the speech of Sen. Flake’s critics.  It is not likely that he is concerned about signage that applauds his performance in office.

The U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has  ruled that political signs are entitled to free speech protection under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The government cannot impose “content-based regulations” on political speech. For example, the government cannot decide that signs which approve of the government are admissible but signs that express displeasure about the government are not admissible. The Court  also says it is perfectly okay if free speech creates a disturbance.

In addition, would the original framers of the U.S. Constitution deny citizens admission to a town hall meeting because they carried signs that were critical of government?