Newsworthy Events

It's up to us to raise the standard.

Can you think of the last time you were watching TV or opened a newspaper when there wasn’t a mention of someone’s misconduct
or inappropriate behavior?

Misconduct has become ever too common in such areas in business, sports, entertainment, law enforcement, politics and just everyday life. Do we just accept this behavior as “standard” or do we try to raise the standard?

Every day, as a result of misconduct or inappropriate behavior, an average of 550 employment lawsuits are filed against U.S. small business owners, according to the National Federation of Independent Business and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Business owners are spending millions of dollars defending such employee claims.

Over the last two to three years, most American businesses and their employees have experienced some of the most challenging times and issues, causing everyone to adjust and change the way they operate. It hasn’t been easy.

Unfortunately last year, the EEOC recorded a 15 percent increase in the number of workplace misconduct claims filed against employers and, to date this year, we are on course to set an even greater record.

According to the EEOC, less than one third of the misconduct claims received have true merit. However, companies have to address them, often spending unnecessary time, money and energy. Worse, a case can have a long-term negative effect on one’s career or a company’s reputation.

It is time to take a look at the type of behavior causing the lawsuits. In defining workplace misconduct or inappropriate behavior, let’s start with what is “standard” behavior. Do we determine this with a company’s handbook, the policies and procedure guidelines, or the day-to-day behavior that always has been?

We often use “standard” as a measurement — standard height and weight, Six Sigma standard, ISO900 standard, service levels, and so on. So who sets the general “standard” for workplace conduct?

By First Response, a human resources compliance firm in the Birmingham area.

From The Birmingham News
Published: Thursday, June 16, 2011, 9:00 AM