The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Many paralegals handle the initial intake calls to their firms. Even if the firm does not specialize in employment and labor law, we still may talk to callers who have been terminated from their jobs and are seeking legal advice. Because the attorneys I work for do specialize in this area, we get employment-related calls from all over the state. Most of the time, it’s great way to help people and provide information to the public regarding their employment rights.
But then there are the occasional calls that are mainly a source of useful (and funny) employment anecdotes. (By the time these folks have contacted an employment lawyer, acts have been committed that will not get do-overs, and there’s nothing anyone can do to change the outcome.) I am a big believer in learning from other folks’ mistakes. As a paralegal I cannot give legal advice, but over the years I have compiled some practical advice for employees everywhere who like earning a regular paycheck. The following is my personal “Top 10” list of things NOT to do, if you wish to remain gainfully employed:
- Do not call your boss a “fat slob” to his face, even if he is one. The same goes for “useless idiot” and “pointy-haired Dilbert boss.” The corollary to this is, do not give your boss the “Italian salute” to his face, even if it means breaking your own fingers.
- Do not eat brownies with weed in ‘em, especially if your employer paid for your outpatient drug rehab program the last time you ate ‘em. A good rule of thumb for employees in this situation is “don’t eat brownies EVER.”
- Do not drink a 12-pack of Budweiser in your car in the parking lot at work before you leave for the day. I’m sure your day was very stressful, but you can wait until you get home (or at least have exited the employer’s premises in an orderly fashion).
- Do not access “non-Disney” sites on the Internet at work. Just assume your employer is interested enough in your extracurricular Internet excursions to install “Big Brother” software and that the company’s “zero tolerance” policy is applicable to everybody, including you.
- Do not wait until your boss hangs up the phone after interrupting your lunch hour, and then tell him, loudly and clearly WITH unmistakable hand gestures (see number 1), where he can take himself AND the horse he rode in on, in front of eight co-workers who hate your guts.
- Try really hard not to be the recipient of male/female review calendars via email (see number 4).
- Do not use your computer at work to create male/female review calendars of your own. I cannot emphasize this enough, but it’s really not YOUR computer (see numbers 4 and 6).
- Do not ask a co-worker for an aspirin and then swallow something that looks suspiciously like Valium, Oxycontin or homemade tranquilizers.
- If your employer’s phone technology is current, do not call in sick for a week from a Hawaii area code (unless you live and work in Hawaii).
- Do not ask a co-worker to punch your time card in and out while you “take a breather” due to intense stress for a couple of days. Employers can be real sticklers about their attendance policies. Chances are that you and your cooperative cohort will have plenty of stress-free time after you’re caught.
I am generally very diplomatic and do not reply to those intake callers who have been “exterminated” by saying, “No, you haven’t, or you wouldn’t be calling.”