Weekly Wrap: Workplace of Fear, Suing FedEx, and $150 Jobs in India

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Sep 3, 2010

It’s been a hot summer — a record-setting one, if you live in New York — but we turn the corner after this long Labor Day weekend and head into the busy Fall season.

Have you been busy this past month with summer activities? Maybe you have, but the world of talent management and HR rolls on even if you have been too busy to really notice.

And, that’s where’s TLNT’s Weekly Wrap comes in. Every Friday I summarize and link to some of those workplace news items you may have missed while you were out doing summer stuff. These are things that I find interesting and newsworthy, and it’s just my little way of keeping you updated and informed.

As you know, I really think this roundup is useful, but I have been asking each week how all of you feel about it. I’ve gotten some nice, encouraging comments — and I thank all of you who so graciously took the time to send them along — but I really want to know how more of you in the TLNT audience feel about this feature. Does it serve a purpose, or is it just a warmed over waste of time? Please me know with a comment here, or send it directly to me via e-mail ( I’d like to hear what you think.

Yes, this is a weekly round-up of news, trends, and all sorts of information from the world of HR and talent management. I do it so you don’t have to:

  • What life is like in a “workplace of fear.” It’s amazing that Carl Greene lasted as long as he did as the head of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, especially when he presided, as The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, over a toxic and abusive workplace. “For women, his subordinates say, there could be ogling, groping, and pressure for sex,” the newspaper says. “For men and women alike, there were insults and humiliation.” This is a story that has to be read to be believed, because as the Inquirer notes, “As PHA’s executive director, Greene ran a workplace out of a Dilbert comic strip, but one with all the humor drained out.” It all came to an end last week because “Greene, once hailed as one of the nation’s top public housing directors, was suspended last week amid disclosures that PHA had agreed to pay at least $900,000 to settle four sexual-harassment complaints filed against him.”
  • Looking for a job? Here’s a guy who found one – in India. This story has a “man bites dog” quality to it, but how many American college graduates do you know who would go 8,000 miles overseas for a job paying $150 a week? Meet Andrew Dana Hudson, a guy who couldn’t find work in the U.S. after graduating from Fordham so instead, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “He is gainfully employed in a full-time position that is interesting, challenging, has him on a career path in the communications field and allows him to report to work each morning in a locale with distinctive architecture: Gangtok, India.” Yes, he’s not making much by American standards, but his rent is only $10 per week, too.
  • Workplace dress codes become a minefield in California. California’s State Assembly tried to mandate a dress code this week in Sacramento, but “just as abruptly yanked the policy, shelving the idea until it can clear up the confusion over what is ‘business attire,’ ” according to the Sacramento Bee. And so the newspaper digs into the problem of what is appropriate dress for the workplace – and how employers and HR professionals go about enforcing the dress code policies. Said Tom Nearn, an operations manager for a Sacramento law firm: “It’s a minefield as far as misinterpretation or causing bad feelings.”
  • Terminations at a record clip. It’s never easy being a boss, and that’s especially true if you’re a Naval commander in charge of a ship. This year it seems to be even harder because senior sailors are making “career-ending mistakes at a pace that will produce one of the decade’s biggest years for being “relieved of command,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The story is an interesting look into the pressure-cooker world that exists for all-too-many military commanders, and the struggles they can have coping with it. “Being in command is a pressure-cooker situation,” the newspaper notes, “and there’s a joke in Navy circles. The best days of a command are the first day on the job — and the last day, if the Navy band plays.”
  • Kentucky sues FedEx over misclassified drivers. Kentucky’s attorney general has sued FedEx “contending that the delivery company misclassifies drivers to avoid paying taxes,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. “The suit … claims the company wrongly considers its drivers independent contractors and not employees…The suit asks the court to require FedEx to classify the drivers as employees, rather than independent contractors … (and) also seeks penalties for violations of Kentucky’s unemployment-compensation and consumer-protection statutes, as well as for failure to remit withholding taxes from wages paid to its drivers.”