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 .

Articles by Howard Mavity

HR News & Trends, Leadership

The Legacy of Warren Bennis: Good Leadership Changes Over Time


By Howard Mavity

I love reading The Economist and they justified my appreciation with an Aug. 9 obituary on Warren Bennis, who they rightly described as “the world’s most important thinker on the subject that business leaders care about more than any other: themselves.”

I cannot do a better job than this article in describing this thoughtful and ethical man’s contributions to business theory, to leadership, and to the question of “what things matter the most?”

Is there any quality more wanting in business and government today than effective leadership? Whether I write about safety, legal compliance, avoiding discrimination claims or developing a successful workplace culture, I come back to the need for real leadership. Read more…

HR Management, Legal Issues

The Ongoing Struggle to Implement Workplace Anti-Bullying Policies

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By Howard Mavity

Workplace and school violence events have contributed to our increasing national conversation about “bullying.”

  • Recently, NPR quoted a Zogby poll in which more than a quarter of American workers reported that they have experienced abusive conduct at work.
  • Some 64 percent of respondents to a Monster Global Poll felt that they had been “bullied, either physically hurt, driven to tears, or had their work performance harmed.”
  • Legislation is pending in a number of states and the topic regularly shows up in several media discussions. Read more…
HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

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


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

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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


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

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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


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?

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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…