Suzanne Lucas

Back Writer

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers and double-checked with the lawyers. Read more at www.evilhrlady.org. On Twitter @RealEvilHRLady.

(illustration: John Chase)

(illustration: John Chase)

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Dilemma of the Month: Padding an Employee’s Timecard

The Fair Labor Standards Act has strict rules regarding paying nonexempt employees, and California is even stricter; one of the key components is that employees must be paid for every hour they work

Sep 6, 2019 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Retaliating Against Whistleblowers

After an employee lodged an OSHA complaint against a company, his manager found a journal in the employee’s office that would make any reasonable person cringe in the era of #MeToo. Comstock’s columnist Suzanne Lucas explains why it’s still a bad idea to terminate the employee in this case.

Jul 18, 2019 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Can I Quit While on Maternity Leave?

While on maternity leave, an opportunity for my dream job has come up, and they want someone immediately. The hiring manager said he was impressed with my resume and would hire me. Do I have to go back to work and then give two weeks’ notice, or can I just quit? I know this might not be ethical, but legally can they do anything to stop me?

Mar 1, 2019 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of The Month: Coaching An Inexperienced Manager

I’m in my 50s and the HR manager for a startup — about 80 people and the average employee is under 30. I’m dealing with a 20-something problem employee. She’s dramatic, often disrupting work with her grievances. Despite my recommendation, her manager (also young) won’t put her on a performance improvement plan over concerns it will reinforce the idea we have a toxic environment. What can I do?

Jan 3, 2019 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma Of The Month: How To Handle An Activist Employee

One of our employees is a vegan activist, and has started posting material on the “evils of eating meat” outside his cubicle or leaving them strewn around shared spaces (in the kitchen, near the copier, etc.). Is there anything I can do about this behavior?

Dec 6, 2018 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of The Month: When HR And Department Heads Clash

I’m the HR manager for my company, and a director wanted to write up an employee for posting an article titled “Employees Don’t Leave Jobs, They Leave Managers” on her personal LinkedIn account. The director had already spoken with the employee and asked her to remove the article from LinkedIn, which she did. However, this doesn’t appear to be a violation of our organization’s social media policy. What should I do?

Nov 1, 2018 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Negative Feedback From Direct Reports

Recently, my boss held a meeting with my direct reports where they filled out a survey about my performance as their manager. When my boss shared the results with me, he disclosed that “someone” mentioned I wasn’t allowing my team to learn, but rather I was micromanaging them. In discussing my frustration with a peer, she expressed that he is not allowed to do this. Can you shed some light?

Oct 4, 2018 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Who Follows the Dress Code?

My organization’s dress code is business casual — jeans are acceptable with nice tops. But our leadership team disagrees over who should have to follow this dress code. Should all our employees have the same expectations or is there a different standard for those that come in contact with clients or vendors more regularly?

Sep 5, 2018 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Managing Seasonal Labor

Dilemma of the Month: My business is quite seasonal. We have work year round, but in the off-season we don’t need the same number of employees. It’s just not profitable to keep everyone on the payroll 12 months out of the year. Can I drop hours? Can I lay people off and rehire? Are there things that make one option better than the other?

Aug 2, 2018 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Low Salary Expectations

I’m a corporate recruiter. For candidates that progress to an HR phone screen, we ask their expected salary and share the range we have for the role. Is it appropriate to use someone’s low salary expectations as a reason for not moving forward? I’m concerned that a candidate who makes so much less won’t be a good fit. Is that the case?

Jul 12, 2018 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Adjusting Employee Compensation

We are a small business with a staff of three: myself, my husband and one employee. As a seasonal business, we are sometimes very busy and sometimes have hardly any business at all. Recently, our employee asked to convert from a salary to hourly pay. He made this request during our busy season. My question is: Do we have to pay him during a month when we have no business at all?

May 10, 2018 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Easing An Employee Into Retirement

We are a 30-agent real estate brokerage company with one administrative assistant, our lone employee. However, her professional abilities have not kept pace with the times. She has no technical skills and can’t keep up with her other tasks. She is 75 years old and we are at a loss regarding how to handle easing her into retirement.

Apr 2, 2018 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Speaking Freely on Social Media

A client recently threatened to quit working with us after seeing politically-charged posts she deemed offensive on one of my account manager’s social media accounts. I’ve asked the employee not to let this happen again, but he countered that we have no policy in place (which is true), and furthermore, these are his personal accounts and he is entitled to free speech. How can I deal with this situation?

Feb 8, 2018 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Drug Testing New Hires

We drug test new hires at my company. When a potential employee’s test comes back positive it’s easy enough to rescind the offer, but we had a candidate have a test returned “negative but diluted” and we rescinded the offer. The candidate had already given two weeks’ notice at his current company and they won’t take him back. Did we do the right thing?

Dec 7, 2017 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Snooping on Employee Email

I have an employee who hasn’t been performing well. Last week, she was out sick again and I needed a report. I tried to call her, but she didn’t answer. So, I asked IT if I could get the report from her email, and they gave me access to her inbox. I found the report, but curiosity overcame me, and I opened a few other emails. I feel totally guilty — I snooped. Is this legal? Is it moral? What do I do with this information?

Nov 2, 2017 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Changing the Terms of Employment

My assistant “Jane” has a reduced work week, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. I agreed to this when she was hired. However, two years later, I now need her to work more hours. I don’t need or want to hire an additional person — I just need her to work an 8-hour day. But she doesn’t want to. What can I legally do?

Oct 5, 2017 Suzanne Lucas

Dilemma of the Month: Retracting a Job Offer

I recently made an offer to a new director of communications for my company. However, I then found out this individual had posted to Facebook asking friends for feedback on two job offers — one for my company and another for a local competitor. I was horrified and I want to remove my offer. Any advice on how to tactfully prevent this from happening in the future?

Sep 7, 2017 Suzanne Lucas