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Top Five HR Misconceptions

Words have meaning and context matters.


During the last couple of weeks, subscribers have reached out and asked if I’d cover some of the most often misunderstood topics. From their submissions, I narrowed them down to the “Top 5” which I will tackle beginning with Friday’s entry.


For now, here are some hints on what is coming up!

ONE: Best Practices vs illegal.

Just because I did something a certain way at one organization, does not mean it’s the best practice or the “legal way”. Just because something isn’t best practice, does not necessarily mean it’s “illegal”.


HINT: If a company closes for all federal holidays but does not pay employees for the time off, this is generally not federally illegal (your state may have different requirements). It may not be a best practice, but likely not “illegal”.


TWO: Hostile Work Environment or Just a Jerk?

A boss or a coworker being a jerk doesn’t always equal a hostile work environment or harassment.


HINT: Sometimes people are just jerks. Petty slights or a coworker being annoying or even frustrating may not mean it is harassment or a hostile work environment.


THREE: Salary/Hourly and Exempt/Non-Exempt

Salary and hourly are not the same thing as exempt and non-exempt.


HINT: Salary/hourly is about how a person is compensated and exempt/non-exempt is about whether or not they are legally exempt from overtime pay.


FOUR: Getting the Facts

When discussing situations such as performance management concerns, terminations, investigations, it is essential to get all the facts before making a recommendation.


HINT: There may be some risk in making a recommendation that may affect an employee’s employment status when made without the full story or context.


FIVE: At-Will or Right to Work?

Employment at will and right to work are not the same thing and the differences matter.


HINT: One is about how an employee without a contract can generally be fired “for no reason at all”. There are exceptions to this doctrine. The other is about workers not having to become union members as a requirement of their job.

Do you have some specific topics you’d like to see discussed?




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