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Scary HR Stories

Halloween is here, the time of year people gather around and tell each other scary stories. Unfortunately, the workplace has its fair share of these stories too. This week we are sharing 2 real-life HR stories and important lessons on what to do and not do.

Trick-or-treat – Unwelcomed birthday party cost employer $450,000!
Knowing that the company celebrates employee birthdays, an employee asked the office manager to not throw him a party. However, the office manager did not pass along the request and, while he was away, co-workers planned a birthday celebration for the employee. The employee then suffered a panic attack so he avoided the party and sat in his car during the lunch break.

The next day two supervisors confronted him about his behavior which prompted him to have another panic attack, turn red in the face, and yell at his supervisors to be quiet.

The employee used a coping method that involved clenching his fists, causing the supervisors to feel threatened so they sent him home and told security to not allow him back. Even though the employee texted apologizing for his behavior and explained it was how he copes with panic attacks, the company fired the employee citing fear of physical harm and that his panic attacks did not meet the ADA level of disability. The employee filed a claim for adverse employment action due to his disability. The jury agreed and awarded him $150,000 in lost wages and $300,000 for his suffering. 

Moral of the story: Honor an employee’s request to not be involved in company traditions or public outings that are not directly related to their job duties.

Ghosted – Employees and applicants disappear with no notice!
There are numerous stories of potential and current employees ghosting their employers (you can read some more interesting stories here). Applicants fail to respond to interview requests or candidates who have been interviewed or even offered a job disappear with no warning. Even current employees, regardless of length of service, have been known to work without issues and then POOF…without warning they do not show up to work, do not call in and do not respond to managers who reach out not only to find out if they are coming in but if they are okay.

Conversely, several companies have ghosted job candidates as well. Even though recommended practice, not every application gets acknowledged or sent a rejection letter early in the hiring process. However, companies have been known to interview candidates, promise follow-up, and even make a preliminary offer of employment but then never contact that candidate again. 

Moral of the story: Establish clear communication expectations for every stage of the hiring process and employment lifecycle. Let candidates and employees know that they are valued and who and how to reach out to communicate any issues they have. And be sure to have a welcoming, open communication style so people do not feel disappearing is their only option.

We can help!
HR does not have to be scary and you do not need to face your fears alone. Reach out to Affinity HR Group to help you navigate the “horrors” you may face. Connect with us at or 877-660-6400.

The Monday HR Minute, brought to you by Affinity HR Group, is designed to provide you with practical, applicable human resources and management advice and information. We believe that by dedicating just a few minutes a week to thinking about people management practices, business owners and managers can make enormous strides in improving workplace performance.
Affinity HR Group is a full service human resources consulting firm that specializes in advising small and medium-sized enterprises. Our services include recruiting and selection, HR policies and compliance, ad hoc HR support, compensation and performance management, and training and development. We are an endorsed HR partner of a number of leading national trade associations and offer free initial consultations and discounted services to their member companies.
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This e-mail may contain general information about legal matters. Affinity HR Group does not provide legal counsel. The information provided should not be considered legal advice and should not be relied on as an alternative to legal advice from your attorney or other professional legal services provider. If you have any specific questions about this content or any legal matter you should consult your attorney or other professional legal services provider.
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