Corporate Divorce Series

Blended families may be more common than organic ones these days and perhaps the same can be said about employees in corporate America.

The trend may emanate in part from the “acqui-hire” approach to building a business.  An “acqui-hire” happens when one business acquires another for its workforce, not for its products or services.  This is a particularly popular approach in the technology sector where buying a team of tech-savvy individuals who have a track record of creating value is a better business bet than money spent on beta testing a product or service that may or may not succeed in the marketplace.  In other words, don’t buy the product — buy the brains that make the product.

Continue Reading Corporate Divorce Series: Acqui-Hires: A Corporate Blended Family?

If you follow my corporate divorce series, you are familiar with my affinity for the employment-as-marriage metaphor.  I’ve already examined how employment relationships end or should end.  But I have yet to address an employment metaphor relevant to annulments.

Unlike divorce, which is the judicial dissolution of a legal marriage, an annulment is actually a judicial (and sometimes also religious) decree that the marriage was never valid in the first place.  Typically an annulment is based on a fundamental legal flaw, such as fraud or marrying close kin or some other core defect that goes to the heart of the marriage contract.  An annulment declares that the “marriage” is treated as if it never existed, provided a core reason exists to nullify it.

So what, if anything, annuls an employment contract?

Continue Reading Corporate Divorce Series: Do Fraudulent Credentials Annul Employment Contracts?

If you’ve been following my corporate divorce series, you are familiar with my view about who owns what at the end of the employment relationship, who pays what to whom, and even how to end the relationship. But I have yet to address the notion of custody and whether my employment-as-marriage metaphor withstands an analogy to the post-employment solicitation of employees.

It is the employee’s relationship with fellow employees – and the employer’s attempt to insert itself into this relationship – that drives this discussion.

Continue Reading Corporate Divorce Series: Is Employee Solicitation A New Kind of Custody Dispute?

shutterstock_287173511Few of us can honestly say that our job never disappoints us and the same can probably be said of personal relationships.  But how do you know when you are in a failed employment relationship and what do you do about it?

Once again these questions lead to a discussion about extremes. A dysfunctional workplace (like a challenging relationship) is more likely to produce conflict than a compliant, well managed and properly administered one. But the focus here is not necessarily on conflict, but rather on illegal behavior.

So how out of bounds does an employer have to behave to make a bad employment relationship into an illegal one?

Continue Reading Corporate Divorce Series: An Employment Relationship Fail

Corporate Divorce CheatingYou don’t have to have an Ashley Madison account to know that a spouse who strays into an affair is unfaithful to the marriage. Is there a similar adulterous line for employees when they consider leaving an existing job?

In one of my earlier corporate divorce posts, I focused on some of the mistakes terminated employees make after they are fired.  Part of my focus in that piece was the surprise (and, granted, the hurt, disappointment and insecurity) that accompanies an unexpected job loss.  Now I examine the flip side, which is relevant to most of us at some points in our lives: the employee who plans to leave one employer for another.

It may strike some as an oddity that there may be issues associated with voluntarily departing employment. But issues there are, thankfully from an employment lawyer’s perspective.

So let’s start with the obvious. Is even thinking about leaving a job a sign of infidelity? Continue Reading Corporate Divorce Series: Your Cheatin’ Heart … Is Thinking About Leaving a Job Flirting or Infidelity?

Disparaging RemarksIf you have been following my corporate divorce series, you may have read the “Break Up” piece where I advised newly terminated folks to keep their cool if they are unexpectedly fired because their post-firing behavior might impact a severance offer.  Yes, it turns out that your parents were right when they told you that if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  And in the ideal world, everyone would play by that golden rule.  Sadly, that is not the case in the real world.

Apparently this is a big issue for real divorce cases where courts routinely fashion orders preventing spouses from disparaging one another in their children’s presence.  While such court orders are uncommon in employment and other commercial disputes, it is far more common to see private parties contractually agree to play nice after resolving a dispute.

Even though it may stick in our First Amendment craw, it turns out that you can be contractually (and therefore judicially) gagged in the right circumstances.  Here are some things employees and employers should keep in mind when negotiating what is commonly known in corporate divorce as “non-disparagement” provisions.

Continue Reading Corporate Divorce Series: Disparage-Me-Not

Employment CourtshipYes I realize that had my Corporate Divorce series progressed in a linear way, I would have started with The Courtship instead of The Break Up, but employment law metaphors are sometimes unpredictable.  In my defense, I note that if you end up in divorce, you must have started with marriage, so there is a certain logic to this after all.

Marriage typically (though not always) starts with courtship, which is the “wooing of one person by another” and the “period during which such wooing takes place.”  It occurred to me that the marriage metaphor is particularly apt for the very unique “wooing” that takes place during the employment recruiting process.  And, like the courtship process, there is, during this time, some significant insecurities regarding how a love interest (or a prospective employer) might actually feel about you.  An employer’s feelings toward a recruit are often, though not always, expressed through financial and other tangible benefits.

How do you test that theory without turning off your suitor?  The answer is to use your courtship period to your financial benefit without spoiling the mood. It can be done but it must be done with care.

Continue Reading Corporate Divorce Series: The Courtship of Employment Negotiation

Employment Office Like AlimonyIn my last article I promised to examine as part of my Corporate Divorce Series whether alimony (though the politically correct term these days is “spousal support”) is like unemployment (I’m pretty sure it is still acceptable to use that term).

One of the reasons I was inspired to write about this topic is that unemployment appears to provoke the same passionate feelings among employers and employees as alimony does with spouses. So I thought it would be helpful to give some basics about unemployment to give this topic the perspective it deserves.

Unemployment and alimony have similar purposes.  Unemployment is a government program that provides temporary financial assistance to employees who have lost a job through no fault of their own. Alimony is a private legal obligation by one spouse to provide financial support resulting from marital separation or divorce. They are similar financial safety nets.

Continue Reading Corporate Divorce: Is Unemployment Like Alimony?

No Fault Employment?The divorce metaphor bears fruit yet again when it comes to the employment relationship. To this mix I add the concept of “no fault” divorce and the reasons employment ends.

A “no fault” divorce permits a spouse to end a marriage for any reason or no reason at all – its label accurately advertises its results. In fact, in most states, once you satisfy the residency requirements, you can end a marriage surprisingly quickly in the absence of financial or custody disputes. At will employment operates in a similar way.

Continue Reading Corporate Divorce: No Fault Employment?