Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018!
SHRM board member David Windley discusses how unconscious bias can derail workplace diversity efforts.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
CHICAGO—Jerks can exact a high cost in the workplace: contaminating the environment with toxic behavior, driving other employees out the door, lowering morale and productivity, and exposing an employer to legal liability.
But organizations don’t have to tolerate jerks, and there are steps they can take to curtail their bad behavior, according to SHRM Annual Conference presenter Jathan Janove, an author, speaker and partner with Bullard Smith Jernstedt Wilson in Portland, Ore.
“The price an organization pays for tolerating jerks is high, but the problem, in most cases, is manageable,” Janove said.
He laid out several steps that employers can use to prevent jerks from getting a foothold.
In addition, Janove offered advice about dealing with potentially thorny situations involving jerks who claim to be legally protected whistleblowers or members of a legally protected class (such as those related to race, sex, national origin or age).
In cases where a jerk is covered under a collective bargaining agreement, Janove suggested working with the employee’s union to get them to change their behavior.
“They are probably being jerks to other employees who are covered by the bargaining agreement, too, so the union has an interest in getting involved because it affects other workers.”
If the jerk is a whistleblower who claims his or her activities are protected, an employer should proceed with caution. Even so, if the employee’s manner of carrying out the activity is far out of line with accepted norms, he might be disciplined legitimately, provided that the employer demonstrates clearly that it was the manner—not the message—that produced disciplinary action.
Despite the legal risks, employers should take action in dealing with workplace jerks, Janove asserted.
“The bad news,” he said, “is jerks like to sue. The good news is that judges and juries don’t like jerks. The worst thing to do is to let the situation fester.”
Desda Moss is managing editor of HR Magazine.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies