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February 2013: Naked women riding dogs is a bit much, don't you think?
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About the Law Office of Paige Arden Stanley

The primary focuses of my law practice are in the areas of business law and estate planning.  I not only serve as outside general counsel for small business owners, but I also prepare wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives. My background in litigation allows me to successfully negotiate and protect my clients' interests. For more information, please visit my firm's website or contact me at ( 404) 386-9950 or paige@stanleylawoffice.com.

A Note From Paige

With Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras recently behind us and St. Patrick’s Day lurking around the corner, odds are you’ve seen or are about to witness some very interesting behavior from your coworkers. There’s just something about these holidays that brings out a side of people that normally shouldn’t be viewed in an office setting. This is why it’s important that no matter the size of your company, you’ve created policies that clearly define and state your workplace rules and regulations.
_____________________________
 
Sexual harassment
is no small matter

For smaller companies, where there’s often a more casual atmosphere with few ground rules, it’s not always clear what is and is not acceptable workplace behavior. Frequently, these businesses want to create a more nurturing, accepting and creative atmosphere, having many times started with the specific goal of getting away from the stereotypical bureaucratic corporate rigmarole. Plus, the people who staff these smaller businesses are often former colleagues or referrals through networking and are obviously trustworthy, right? Well, while this may be the case the majority the time, it never hurts to play it safe.
 
A prime example of why having established policies in place is a good idea is the recent sexual harassment case involving Keith Rabois, the former Chief Operating Officer of Square. With no formal in-office fraternization policy in place, there was nothing legally preventing Keith from continuing a relationship with a boyfriend he recommended for hire at Square. However, after the boyfriend was an employee, the relationship soured and the former boyfriend threatened a lawsuit against Rabois and Square for sexual harassment. Rabois has denied these allegations and has resigned. Would having formal policies on things like fraternization and nepotism have prevented this? There are always some who will skirt rules, but it would have made things very cut and dry and having a clear protocol might have deterred Rabois from making the hiring recommendation without first ending the relationship, or even kept him from making it at all.
 
In an article from Reuters, writer Sarah McBride comments on how many businesses learn the hard way through their growing pains that rules, while not considered fun or in keeping with a company’s culture, are a necessity. She cites the Rabois/Square case, but also references Facebook’s old office mural of naked women riding dogs, porn in advertising presentations at DoubleVerify and hazing rituals with tequila shots at Nutanix. While these examples are seen as comical and amusing to some, this kind of situation isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. As businesses grow and more staff are hired, it becomes easier and easier to step on toes and make decisions that aren’t appropriate for the company you’ve become.
 
Your company is your brainchild, your baby and your passion. You devote blood, sweat and tears and have an emotional connection to it and the staff who help keep it running. However, at the end of the day, if it’s making you money, then it’s a business and needs to be treated as such. If you value your company and those you employ, it’s imperative that you take the steps to protect them. It may seem like overkill, but in the end, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to such a large investment.
 
If you’ve not yet put together formal workplace policies and would like more information on what you need to get started, give me a call or send me an email. I’ll help you design a policy that sets safe parameters but still respects your company’s unique culture.
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Items in this newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.
Copyright © 2013 Law Office of Paige Arden Stanley, LLC, All rights reserved.
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