How to deal with an unhelpful HR department

Human resources is the most redundant, useless, annoying section of any organization. Is there an alternative to going to HR for advice or help?

I’d like to take a poll, my dear readers: If you were forced to share an office with an HR person or lawyer, which would you choose? I know what the rap is on HR, and some of it is earned. But most HR professionals are good at their jobs and are trying to ensure a fair and equitable workplace, holding anyone accountable who undermines that and the law. If you need assistance, HR deserves a chance to demonstrate whether they are doing their job. In fact, in some instances, if the company has a posted procedure of bringing a complaint to HR and you don’t follow the policy, it may hurt your chances of getting the matter resolved and adversely impact your claim if your situation becomes a legal matter. You may not like your HR, but you’ve got nothing to lose by giving them a shot to help. And for HR colleagues out there — step up your game if your reputation at work isn’t what it should be.

I work in sales as a salaried employee with commission. Our new sales manager is sending e-mails “suggesting” we work on weekends. His e-mails are coming more often and are threatening. I find it annoying to have him pressure me to work on my personal time. Is this against labor laws?

It’s not against the law for a manager to send emails “suggesting” employees work on weekends. However, “threatening” behavior could be a form of harassment and against the law. It is against common decency to bother you while you watch your daughter try to score a goal in her soccer game. (Bad example — I’d gladly work rather than have to watch any soccer game — even with my own kids playing.) The federal Fair Labor Standards Act defines if a job is exempt from overtime pay (salaried) where you receive the same wages regardless of how many hours or days per week you work. If non-exempt, you get overtime. So the FLSA only applies to how you get compensated in this case. Sounds to me like you might want to take your services elsewhere.

Gregory Giangrande is a chief human resources and communications officer in the media industry. E-mail your career questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande. His Go to Greg podcast series is available on iTunes.

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