How to Handle the Office Bully

What are your rights?

My coworker is very aggressive towards me. I have reported this to my supervisor twice in the past, but nothing has changed. It’s getting to the point where I have constant anxiety about being in the office with her and feel if this continues I’ll be driven to quit my job, which I love. Is there any legal recourse I can take?

May 6, 2015 Coral Henning
Intern management requires many, many binders.(Shutterstock)

Are Interns Worth It?

Here's what you need to know before bringing one on

Our small company is considering bringing on two or three summer interns. Half of me thinks this is a great way to get some help with projects, tap into the knowledge of a younger generation and give back to our local students. The other half of me thinks this is going to be a management nightmare that will suck my working hours dry. How can we ensure a successful summer for everyone involved?

May 4, 2015 Suzanne Lucas

Show Me the Money

Just because the workload increased doesn’t mean your pay will

I was originally hired for a position that requires me to be in office, working with clients already retained by my company to ensure their contract deliverables are on track. Three months after hire, I was asked to also start working to bring on new clients as well (without commission), something that was not part of my original job description. What happens when the job description and or responsibilities are changed without a change in wage?

Apr 13, 2015 Coral Henning

Mind If I Push You Around?

Poll: Tell us your thoughts on bullying in the workplace

The Workplace Bullying Institute would like to see legislation put in place to protect employees from abusive coworkers or bosses. The California State Council for the Society for Human Resource Management says legislation would leave too much room for subjective analysis. What do you think?

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Mar 31, 2015

Patent Problems: Who Owns the Idea?

Know who your inventors are before you file

I have been working on a new piece of light industrial equipment for several years but had trouble with a certain aspect. I mentioned it to a colleague, who had a great idea that I was able to use. I am getting ready to patent my invention, and this colleague is now arguing that he is the co-inventor and entitled to the patent and future proceeds of the sale or use of this patent!

Mar 25, 2015 Coral Henning

Social Digging

Where is the legal line when it comes to using social media to evaluate job candidates?

We’re hiring a new office manager and looking for someone trustworthy and friendly. Going through applications, we found that some of the hiring staff were able to view applicants’ Facebook profiles, either due to mutual friends or because of the applicant’s privacy settings. Are there any legal reasons not to do this? Can we raise questions during interviews based on the information we’ve learned via social media?

Feb 24, 2015 Coral Henning

Dress for Success

How can I legally amend my company's dress code?

Since starting my business in 2010, my number of full-time employees has tripled. One thing I wish I’d done in the beginning is establish a dress code. I’m worried that the relaxed atmosphere I’ve allowed does not reflect the professional competency I’m trying to project. How can I implement a dress code, and should I be worried about violating any laws when I do?

Jan 21, 2015 Coral Henning

Raise It Up

Our minimum wage should leave no one behind

Improving the minimum wage and making Sacramento a better place to do business are not mutually exclusive goals. Done properly, an increase to the minimum wage targeted at Sacramento’s working poor will strengthen the economy, benefit the entire community and help create the Sacramento that we all want.   

Jan 7, 2015 Jay Schenirer

Unpolished Problems

How to politely enforce your dresscode

“We have a male employee whose shirt buttons pop open, leaving his skin exposed. We also have a female employee whose tight clothing reveals her undergarments. This is a horribly awkward and uncomfortable situation, but their attire is not appropriate for the office. How should HR address this?”

Jan 5, 2015 Suzanne Lucas

Sound Off on AB 1522

Paid sick leave for all — yea or nay?

Effective July 1 of this year, employees who have worked in California for 30 days or more will be entitled to paid sick leave. Is this a leap forward for workers’ rights, or will it mean death for small businesses? Tell us what you think:

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Jan 1, 2015

Missing Moms

Can an employer require employees to return after maternity leave?

I run a small business. Twice in the past two years, I’ve had employees quit directly after taking maternity leave. Prior to their departures, it was understood that they would return to work. This has caused understandable upheaval in the office. What questions, if any, can I ask employees taking maternity or paternity leave? Can I require them to come back to work in order to take the leave? Are there any options for me to avoid this happening in the future?

Dec 8, 2014 Coral Henning
Illustrated by Zuza Hicks with elements from Shutterstock

On the Cover: Web of Thieves

Big-name cyberattacks make headlines, but smaller businesses have more to lose.

In cyberattacks against multimillion-dollar companies, computer criminals break in and steal personal information from millions of customers. Though there will be big losses and maybe a high-profile resignation, the reality is, these retail giants will live to sell another day. But the stories that won’t make the front pages involve the most frequent targets, whose survival isn’t guaranteed: small businesses.

Nov 18, 2014 Russell Nichols