As many corporations have learned in recent years, it doesn’t take much to create a hostile work environment that can cause some workers to file lawsuits based upon claims of racial, gender, disability or other alleged forms of discrimination. While many of these claims are actually quite valid, most can be avoided if you’ll only promote highly responsible, mature, and discrete individuals to supervisory positions.                                                                             

Once someone is “the boss” or supervisor of a group of employees, she must set a very positive example about how to talk about various people working in that department. All too often, petty or insecure bosses will blatantly gossip about some employees. Instead of making justifiable inquiries into how well certain people are doing their jobs, they instead make biased comments that often “give permission” to people’s coworkers to start regularly “bad-mouthing” them as though it’s acceptable.                                                                                     

As one authority recently put it quite simply, “If you’re talking about your employees behind their backs, you are a rotten boss.”                                                                                      

Here are some general “rules of thumb” that corporate managers and human resource professionals must share with their corporate supervisors so that all workers will be treated with respect – and also help the company avoid unnecessary legal troubles.

Basic Rules for Bosses Who Wish to Discuss the Employees They Supervise

  • Bosses or supervisors never have the right to publicly talk about people who must report to them regularly regarding assignments. If a boss really needs to talk about specific employees, this should only occur in “closed-door” meetings in the human resources department or when just the boss and employee “in question” are alone together. If a supervisor believes an employee is doing poorly in his or her position, special guidance and help may be required before any termination is considered. Written notes regarding such meetings should be kept and then placed in the employee’s HR file;

  • When you have questions about an employee’s current skill levels. If necessary, schedule new testing to be conducted in the HR offices. Of course, such testing should have been thoroughly conducted prior to hiring the individual. If the person is having trouble learning how to use new software or other work materials, be sure you’ve provided adequate training and offer to meet with the person to provide further help. Everyone learns new skills as a different pace. If one of your employees continues to struggle – as a supervisor, you have no right whatsoever to gossip about this person with his/her coworkers. When you do this, you are setting up your company for a potential lawsuit or EEOC complaint – and being extremely disloyal;

  • Whenever upper level management or the HR department discovers that a specific boss or supervisor is behind a significant amount of gossip, that supervisor must be provided with an official warning. If that person fails to stop harassing his or her subordinates, a demotion or firing may need to take place.                     


It’s hard enough to make a living without having your own boss trying to undermine your efforts. Hopefully, all companies will only promote the best trained and educated employees to serve as supervisors. When this doesn’t occur, mediocre supervisors will sometimes go out of their way to ruin a subordinate’s career when they feel their own job may be threatened by the new employee’s better credentials or more impressive work experience.

To obtain help with handling all of your Georgia business planning needs, please contact Shane Smith Law today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.

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