Lynne Curry

Q: I was walking down the hallway when one of the supervisors yelled, “You’re needed in here,” and gestured for me to go into our copier room. I entered and saw our easily intimidated administrative assistant looking like she wanted to be anywhere but in that small room.

“What’s up?” I asked, moving toward her. The male supervisor, who is 6 foot, 2 inches in height, slammed the door behind him and stood in front of the room’s only exit. He advanced toward me, shaking his finger at me and said, “You are not invited to the meeting.”

“You just asked me in here.”...

Lynne Curry

Q: The powers that be have promoted me twice because I can handle Bill, an in-your-face bully. I now run a department, and our department’s success depends on how we interface with those who work for Bill, who are as boorish as he is.

I’ve succeeded because I don’t let Bill rattle me, regardless of his antics, nor do I let Bill or his employees insult those who work for me. I’m the buffer.

Bill’s now trying a new tack. He pretends I don’t exist. When I present my department’s perspective at staff meetings, he acts as if I haven’t said a word. When I visit him in his office because we have projects to discuss, he gives no indication I’m talking to him. If I stop him in the hallway and speak, he walks away, to the amusement of those who work for him...

Lynne Curry

Q: I run a small public relations firm. When I advertised for a new hire, I didn’t find anyone who had the right skill set. “Will” applied. Although he lacked the skills I sought, he interviewed well and said he was willing to learn everything necessary to become my No. 1 employee. I took a chance on him and invested months in training him. He shadowed me, developed rapport with my key clients, and learned strategies I’d spent 20 years developing...

Lynne Curry

Q: Eight months ago, I accepted a position in rural Alaska. I was solicited by a reputable employee search firm to become the chief executive officer of an 8(a) corporation that had been struggling but was “going places.” The offer was excellent and our written agreement included a relocation bonus that more than covered my moving expenses. The catch: If I didn’t stay the full year, I needed to pay back the relocation bonus...

Lynne Curry

Q: As a contract flight attendant for a charter airline that serves corporate clients, my income depends on the relationship I build with the airline’s pilots. Three months ago, the chief pilot and my best friend, a flight attendant for another airline, divorced. Ever since then, the CP has had it in for me.

Immediately after their divorce, he saw me on the tarmac and told me, “You need to find another airline.” I was shocked and didn’t say anything. He then said, “Scared? I can ruin you.”...

Lynne Curry

Q: I just had the oddest conversation with my boss. He asked if I’d like to own my own business.

When I realized he was serious, I asked, “What’s the catch?” He said there wasn’t one and that if I became a franchisee, and we created a business to business relationship, it would be a win for him and for me. He said since it would lower his payroll costs, he would guarantee my new small business work from his business and become a subsidy client for me. He acted like we should break out the champagne and celebrate.

I asked if I was being fired. He said of course not, but then he gave the franchise paperwork to sign and a list of Internet websites that I could use to set up my business. He expects my answer today. Could this get me into trouble?...

Lynne Curry

Q: I started a job search because I’d felt my position was going to be eliminated. When I asked my former supervisor, she admitted she was planning to outsource my duties. So I found a better job and gave two weeks’ notice. My supervisor wished me well.

Soon after I started my new job, my former supervisor called me and asked that she be able to call me whenever she had questions. She didn’t offer any compensation. I let her know I had just started a new job and would get back to her later that week.

One year into my new job, I was laid off. After I had several interviews that seemed like home runs but received no job offers, I called the last interviewer. She said my former supervisor had badmouthed me and implied I was not to be trusted. What can I do?...

Lynne Curry

Q: When I arrived at my office this morning, I found a sealed envelope with my name printed on it in block letters. Inside was an anonymous note informing me that our sales manager has had an illicit affair with the accounts receivable clerk who quit last week.

I don’t believe it. My sales manager is married and my wife and I regularly socialize with him and his wife. The head of accounting received a similar note and brought it to me. I told her to toss it in the trash. She mentioned she’d heard rumors about the sales manager and another individual who left our company last year.

She thinks we need to do something. Do we?...

Lynne Curry

Q: We legalized pot in this state in February, so can you tell me how I got fired for THC on my drug test last week? I smoke in my house and on my own time and it’s none of my employer’s business.

My buddies tell me I should sue my employer for violating my rights. Can I?

A: Although we legalized recreational marijuana use in Alaska, you probably don’t have a winnable lawsuit , particularly if your organization has a zero-tolerance policy regarding drug use...

Lynne Curry

Q: I’m the human resources manager you wrote about in a recent article. I didn’t take action when an employee came to me complaining about a bully manager.

It’s easy for you and others to say HR should handle bully managers. In reality it’s not so simple. First, bullying isn’t illegal. Unless there’s a documentable offense, HR’s hands are tied, particularly if the alleged bully is talented and productive. We need evidence before we can act.

What the employee undoubtedly didn’t tell you is that almost every employee who comes to us pointing the finger at an alleged bully asks us to keep what they say and even the fact that they’ve come to us confidential. This means that if we do anything, it’s as if we’ve made up the stories we heard...

Lynne Curry