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  • Wife is an HR Director Texas Texas

    Wife is a 50 year old, veteran, SHRM member--human resources professional in TX.

    She was contacted via a head hunter-and after a series of interviews, she left one great paying job for another.

    After the initial phone interview, as she researched the CO-I realized that my former wife worked there.

    As she progressed through the interview and hiring process, she made it known that my EX worked there. Having no shared children and no financial ties, my EX and I have no drama. The potential employer, now aware--indicated "no problem."

    She was hired--leaving JOB A.

    Day two at her new position--as an HR Director--she is made aware that my EX is uncomfortable with her hiring. My wife lets her boss (CFO) know that it's not an issue with her. The CFO tells her "Good--I don't care what people do after 5PM--glad it won't affect your work."

    My wife goes in today--day three--and is told that the CEO is considering terminating her due to my EX's discomfort.

    There has been no meeting of the two "wives"--and genuinely no issue other than the EX's discomfort.

    IF my wife gets terminated-having walked away from a six-figure HR position to take this one--do you feel she has any recourse?

    Any opinions appreciated!

  • #2
    No. And if your wife is as experienced an HR person as you say, she'll know that.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

    Comment


    • #3
      agree with cbg. There is nothing she can do at this point since it seems that the ex-wife has more pull in the company than she does being new. I am curious as to what job position the exwife holds and how long she has worked there? Not that it matters or would change the situation, just curious.

      Being in HR and in hindsight, she probably should have pulled out of the process since there was a possibly negative connection in the early stages -- especially if it was enough for her to bring it up during her interview process. The employer probably should have (and might have) asked the ex-wife before formally hiring your current wife, but there is no requirement that they do so.

      Comment


      • #4
        Who told her that the CEO is considering terminating her - the CFO or someone else? Just curious.
        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

        Comment


        • #5
          Surprised your wife doesn't know the answer to your question.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm trying to make a sex discrimination case out of this and I just can't. The situation sucks and is definitely unfair, but it's not illegal.

            I think the only thing your wife can do-and quickly-is try to show her worth as an employee in spades. She needs to make herself shine such that the CEO realizes he would be a fool to get rid of her. Easier said than done I know. I would say she should try to talk to your ex herself, but I have a feeling that would just backfire.

            Comment


            • #7
              Updated info

              Originally posted by ferretrick View Post
              I'm trying to make a sex discrimination case out of this and I just can't. The situation sucks and is definitely unfair, but it's not illegal.

              I think the only thing your wife can do-and quickly-is try to show her worth as an employee in spades. She needs to make herself shine such that the CEO realizes he would be a fool to get rid of her. Easier said than done I know. I would say she should try to talk to your ex herself, but I have a feeling that would just backfire.
              After the situation dragged out for nearly two weeks--my wife grew increasingly uncomfortable. She lost appetite and sleep--was basically miserable.

              At the end of her first week, she told a VP level exec that she felt very unwelcome and uncomfortable. The VP (female) indicated that the other execs were just poor acting, socially inept guys--and assured my wife that IF a termination was imminent, she would know about it.

              In the middle of her second week, gossip working it's way thru the workforce, my wife emailed the CEO and CFO (her boss) in an email titled HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT. She explained her feelings, restated her position--that she had told the CFO in the interview, and that she had no issue with my EX.

              An hour after sending the email-she was terminated. Reason--"one person's overwhelming discomfort with the hiring." She was asked to sign a General Release-the terms of which were barely reasonable but she was given just five days to sign and return.

              Now-I'm NOT an attorney, nor an HR Director. But based on the allegation of a Hostile Work Environment, shouldn't an investigation have been conducted? And the timing of her termination-an hour after alleging a Hostile Workplace--isn't that retaliation? Finally-giving her five days to sign the General Release--she's 50--doesn't that violate her ADEA rights under the Older Worker Protection Act?

              Comment


              • #8
                Not to be mean and I realize you are writing this as a 3rd party, but your wife should know better and be able to explain these things to you. If she can't , that means she shouldn't be in an HR Director position.

                Your wife forced the issue with the HWE email. That wasn't a smart move. She put HER issues down in writing. They were probably already investigating and working on a solution and she forced their hand. As HR Director, again she should have known better. Again, you have a longer term employee versus a brand new employee. They can use that to make the decision. It's not retaliation if they were already in the process of making the decision prior to her email. That specific email doesn't protect her. And HWE has a very specific meaning and has to do with a protected characteristic and honestly they didn't terminate her because she was purple, female, atheist, etc. They terminated her because of issues with the work environment. It is very possible Ex had already complained of an HWE on the other side. Shouldn't SHE be protected?

                Your wife should know that Texas is an "at will" state and that she can be let go at any time unless she had a contract. Your wife made a bad decision to take a job where she knew your ex worked. At hire, the CFO/CEO tried to predict whether the situaiton would work or not. Both your wife and they bet that it would.The hire of your wife made the workplace stressful and "gossip working its way through the workforce" whether it was her fault or not. But guess what? She and they were wrong. (Hindsight is 20/20 for them and your wife) At that point, the employer gets to choose who to keep. Obviously your ex-wife has more pull there than your current wife.

                They don't legally owe her any severance or need a release to terminate her. Yes, they would be smart to give her more time under ADEA and IF she had a legal claim, she might be able to use that to her advantage, but honestly I am seeing no legal claim (and I am a VP HR in Texas, but not an attorney)

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am surprised that an HR Director wouldn't know the definition of an illegal HWE.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Excellent post hr for me.
                    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                    Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Betty3 View Post
                      Excellent post hr for me.
                      Ditto from me.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by eerelations View Post
                        Ditto from me.
                        .............................
                        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          SO--to be clear...

                          Originally posted by Betty3 View Post
                          .............................
                          Thank you all for your input.

                          To be clear then--a company can seek you out through a third party recruiter, accept a condition you gave them pre-hire ("my husband's EX works here"), negotiate over a period of a month without the employer letting the EX know, hire an HR level director, then make the workplace so uncomfortable as to have a HWE complaint put into writing by the new hire HR Director, not investigate the HWE complaint, and then retaliate by terminating her that same morning? And then-in their "goodbye letter" offer a small sum as severance, giving the 50 year old female, military veteran five days to respond?

                          And aside from the overwhelming opinion that it seems unfair-no HR person here thinks there is any legal culpability?

                          Is there a single HR person here that would have advised their company to immediately (within the hour) terminate an employee who had just put a HWE complaint in writing?

                          Finally-to the point that "hr to me" made--about the EX having possibly filed a HWE complaint. She didn't--in fact, she never met the new HR Director (my wife.) Further-my EX and I have no shared children, assets, financial obligations, or friends.

                          Is there a single HR rep here that would have said "Yeah-that's a good idea. Let's let our management level employees start dictating who we hire"?

                          I'm NOT an HR rep (thank God)--but my thought is this...if it could happen to her, it could happen to You.

                          Also-while TX is an at-will employment state--what about the fiduciary duty of taking a person from where they were, and enticing them to come to your company--only to terminate for a condition you (the employer) were made aware of already? And if not that--then how about NOT investigating an alleged HWE? Or grounds for retaliation--by the sheer definition of retaliation in the employment spectrum? Or an ADEA violation-giving 5 days to accept the Offer--as opposed to the 21 days (plus 7 days post acceptance)?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TXKOB View Post
                            Thank you all for your input.

                            To be clear then--a company can seek you out through a third party recruiter, accept a condition you gave them pre-hire ("my husband's EX works here"), negotiate over a period of a month without the employer letting the EX know, hire an HR level director, then make the workplace so uncomfortable as to have a HWE complaint put into writing by the new hire HR Director, not investigate the HWE complaint, and then retaliate by terminating her that same morning? And then-in their "goodbye letter" offer a small sum as severance, giving the 50 year old female, military veteran five days to respond?

                            And aside from the overwhelming opinion that it seems unfair-no HR person here thinks there is any legal culpability?

                            Is there a single HR person here that would have advised their company to immediately (within the hour) terminate an employee who had just put a HWE complaint in writing?

                            Finally-to the point that "hr to me" made--about the EX having possibly filed a HWE complaint. She didn't--in fact, she never met the new HR Director (my wife.) Further-my EX and I have no shared children, assets, financial obligations, or friends.

                            Is there a single HR rep here that would have said "Yeah-that's a good idea. Let's let our management level employees start dictating who we hire"?

                            I'm NOT an HR rep (thank God)--but my thought is this...if it could happen to her, it could happen to You.

                            Also-while TX is an at-will employment state--what about the fiduciary duty of taking a person from where they were, and enticing them to come to your company--only to terminate for a condition you (the employer) were made aware of already? And if not that--then how about NOT investigating an alleged HWE? Or grounds for retaliation--by the sheer definition of retaliation in the employment spectrum? Or an ADEA violation-giving 5 days to accept the Offer--as opposed to the 21 days (plus 7 days post acceptance)?
                            If what you have told us is correct, your wife didn't experience a HWE, which has a LEGAL definition. Being the 2nd wife isn't a legally protected characteristic.Your wife's failure to know this could be an excellent reason to term her.

                            Bottom line, a company can legally fire someone for any reason, outside of those protected by law. If you go to work in a hideous tie, the company is within its rights to fire you for it. In many states, they don't have to give a reason.

                            Not giving her sufficient time to review her severance offer would violate the law. However the company did not have to offer any severance and is free to withdraw the offer if they choose.

                            I understand why you are upset but obviously this was not going to work in the long term for your wife. Anytime a new employee sends an email with such an inflammatory title, they may as well start packing up their belongings. For an HR person to do so is even worse. They are supposed to be the calm logical person.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by HRinMA View Post
                              If what you have told us is correct, your wife didn't experience a HWE, which has a LEGAL definition. Being the 2nd wife isn't a legally protected characteristic.Your wife's failure to know this could be an excellent reason to term her.
                              OP, no one said your ex filed an HWE complaint. We all agree that your wife filed the HWE complaint. And we all agree that this was wrong of her to do so, because she was not experiencing an HWE as it's defined by law.

                              As several of us have stated, HR Directors should know what an HWE is as defined by law (really, it's Employment Law 101). Filing this complaint is a clear indication that your wife does not know the legal definition of an HWE, ergo, she has made herself seem unqualified to be at Director-level in HR, ergo, this is a valid (and legal) reason to let her go.

                              And (again as others have stated), giving her five days to think about her severance package seems like not enough time. But given that employers are not legally required to provide any severance pay at all, five days is actually probably generous.

                              Please understand that we are not without sympathy for you or your wife. However, she has no legal recourse for this. (And yes, again, as an HR Director, she should already know this.)

                              Comment

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