Howard Mavity

Howard Mavity is a senior partner in the Atlanta office of the law firm Fisher & Phillips. He co-chairs the firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group, and has provided counsel for over 200 occasions of union activity, guided unionized companies. In addition, he has managed almost 400 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses, in virtually every state. Contact him at hmavity@laborlawyers.com .

Articles by Howard Mavity

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Is OSHA’s Temp Worker Initiative Foreshadowing Things To Come?

osha_1

I support OSHA’s temporary worker focus. Employers need to take more steps to ensure that temporary employees don’t fall through the cracks and do not receive adequate safety training.

However, employers should also make long-term plans based on what the initiative tells us more broadly about where workplace enforcement is heading.

Let’s break our discussion into two subjects: Read more…

Culture, Legal Issues

Companies That Share Information Build the Culture They Want

Photo by istockphoto.com

By Howard Mavity

Leadership lessons from the military do not necessarily translate to the private sector.

I am uncomfortable with business books which continually analogize the workplace to the battlefield. It’s not the same thing. However, there is an enormous amount of wisdom to be gleaned from those who have served.

As an example, Forbes recently ran a piece by Kevin Kruse discussing the need to be open and authentic with employees, How One former Navy SEAL Modulates Authentic Leadership. Read more…

Legal Issues

Sometimes (Especially in California), the Wrong Shoes Can Really Cost You

osha_1

By Howard Mavity

Warehouses and distribution centers (DC’s) are not the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s most frequently inspected workplaces and do not present the complex compliance issues presented by some manufacturers or refineries.

But that does not mean that a OSHA inspection will not result in citations and dangerous Repeat exposure, or costly abatement actions. Distribution centers are a great example of employers who may not realize that OSHA’s evolving enforcement positions have upped their legal exposure and may catch them out of compliance. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Weekly Wrap

Remembering Mandela: His Three Timeless Workplace Lessons

Nelson Mandela

Editor’s note: Weekly Wrap is stepping back and celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela today. We’ll be back with our regular format next Friday.

By Howard Mavity

After 30 years of seeing the worst of the workplace, I have few heroes left. This week, I lost my JFK or MLK.

I’ll remember where I was sitting when I learned that the lion who was Nelson Mandela, had roared his last. I choose to believe that’s how he went out. –as a lion of a man.

My 19 year-old son and I were in Soweto last June when everyone expected Nelson Mandela to die. It’s hard to describe our feelings as we sat in his church near his home. We pondered all that we had learned in South Africa in the preceding weeks. Read more…

Rewards & Recognition

My Holiday Wish: Practice Thanksgiving at Work, Every Single Day

Photo by istockphoto.com

By Howard Mavity

Although Americans have celebrated some sort of Thanksgiving since 1661, Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday by proclamation on November 28, 1863.

The Thanksgiving holiday takes on more meaning when one considers that an American people, so exhausted by war, nonetheless gathered together to offer thanks.

We seldom consider the concepts of “gratitude” and “Thanksgiving” as part of our management strategy. I wrote earlier this week about reframing corporate goals so that employees can have a decent shot of being “happy at work.” So let’s talk a bit about cultivating “gratitude” in the workplace. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

OSHA Proposes New Rule to Publish Worker Injury Data

osha_1

By Howard Mavity

OSHA has announced a proposed rule which will require establishments with 20 or more employees in certain industries with high injury and illness rates, to electronically submit their summary of work-related injuries and illnesses to OSHA every year.

The change may affect between 450,000 and 1,500,000 sites. The first proposed new requirement is for establishments with more than 250 employees (and who are already required to keep records) to electronically submit the records on a quarterly basis to OSHA. Read more…

HR Insights, Legal Issues

I’m Just In HR, So How Do I Counsel My Boss and Keep My Job?

HR at work

By Howard Mavity

Fran Sepler recently posted an insightful blog titled, I’m Sort of Sorry: Coaching the High Level Harasser, that discussed coaching a high-level performer regarding harassment, poor behavior or insensitivity.

Yes, it takes wisdom and experience to deal with an executive who controls valuable business or can fire you if your message is displeasing.

Often, the main problem is that the high performer’s bad behavior has long been tolerated because he or she is a high performer. Odds are that the employer has looked the other way for some time when the high performer behaved in a churlish or unprofessional fashion. Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

Who Should Sit in When You Have to Do a Termination?

Photo illustration by istockphoto.com

By Howard Mavity

Should HR sit in on a termination?

A senior human resources professional recently posed this good question on a LinkedIn forum. As with many good questions, the answer is that “it depends on the facts.

Here are a few initial observations before we get to the central question:

  • A process should be in place so that HR is aware of the termination.
  • Processes should also be in place to ensure that the supervisor’s boss or someone else in management has to approve a termination; even routine. Even in large companies, we learn of terminations carried out without oversight by frontline or site supervision. Read more…
Talent Management

Employee Fatigue: It’s Hardly the Biggest Workplace Problem We Face

Photo by istockphoto.com.

By Howard Mavity

Safety professionals do a fine job of determining the “root causes” or “contributing factors” of incidents in order to prevent the next accident. Executives might apply this analysis to employee performance issues.

Out of necessity, employers often analyze performance and attitude problems from the standpoint of ensuring that a termination is legally defensible. Let’s shift our focus and try to determine the contributing factors to employee performance or judgment issues, and start with an often-overlooked contributing factor — employee fatigue.

Dr. Christopher M. Barnes posted a provocatively titled post, Sleep-Deprived People Are More Likely to Cheat on the HBR Blog Network last May. Barnes approached “bad behavior” from a physiological standpoint and explained that: Read more…

HR Insights, HR Management

Workplace and HR Wisdom From the Encyclopedia Britannica

encyclopedia-britannica-first-edition

By Howard Mavity

The New York Times and other publications are running articles pondering the end of the written version of the Encyclopedia Britannica and what that says about society.

We were a “World Book” family, but I have waxed nostalgic about growing up in the 60’s in a small Georgia town where the encyclopedia was the only way to resolve family disputes or whip out a quick paper. No wonder families dropped a small fortune to proudly display those tomes.

Day to day events give us wonderful analogies, examples and source material to more effectively run our businesses, maintain a safety-driven culture and make labor lawyers unnecessary. “Thinking” is a declining art, even though creative musings are often at the root of entrepreneurial success or even the twisted arguments I sometimes successfully devise to thwart my clients’ foes. Read more…