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ARTICLES:

Career Suicide
A/K/A “I wouldn’t kiss their ass”
(It should be “asses” of course)

Here are things to think about that I have learned doing employment law since 1997 – embrace them and have a better chance to thrive

  • Protip: Don’t piss off the boss without having a very good reason – the boss will piss on you in return — and the boss’s piss is stronger than yours. (See a lawyer for help to frame your theory –> Don’t just thrash around in the unknown, because they will eat you alive).
  • Remember that there is no general law that requires employers to be fair and just — there are some limits on how unfair the employer can be. But it seems to take a lawyer, these days, to know when the employer has crossed the line, and to design a plan of attack.
  • The biggest reason people really get fired is some variation on the theme of “I wouldn’t kiss their ass” — (Sometimes this is basically YOUR opinion, but lawyers can still extract some helpful legal-theories and then drive those theories through the system — there is always hope)
  • Sometimes people simply bitch and moan about things that they know in their hearts they are too powerless to get changed — so mention it once, if you must, and then STFU and see a lawyer, or else you run too high of a risk of pissing off the boss. The boss has “decided” the issue against you, much like a judge decides issues against lawyers all the time — and you are simply unhappy with the judge’s decision, so you “go over the boss’s head” or continue complaining in some other way.
  • In law school, we were taught the following response to a bad decision made by a clearly stupid judge who does not grasp the law in our case: “Thank you, Your Honor”. And that particular response has served me well at times. Such an attitude of acceptance is very difficult, but it preserves a good working relationship. And ultimately it is good for our clients when we work well with the judges, because judges are people too.
  • And by the way, pardon my above French, please — sometimes French is the best language to emphasize a point.
  • Here is an old saying that remains relevant — If you go after the prince, you had better kill him, or he will kill you — Do you have your ducks in a row? Are you going to win this fight? Can you withstand the blowback? Think of these things before starting a fight.
  • In a layoff, the bosses already know who they want to let go, usually the non-ass-kissers, and then the bosses design the layoff criteria to catch the non-ass-kissers, so they can be layed off with documentation for legal cover.
  • Job security tends more to come from being well-liked, rather than from good performance — you probably see this tendency in your own workplace [exception for some sales environments primarily]. This is a natural human reaction in the boss, because the boss spends most of his or her waking hours with you. And if the boss doesn’t like you then you are a constant thorn in the boss’s side, and you reduce the boss’s perceived quality of life, so he or she eliminates you from the environment.
  • Pick your battles wisely. So very many things are simply not worthy of the fuss people make over them. Or at least, they are not worthy of the risk that people can destroy their careers over them — Due to legal worries, employers are tending to get a lawyer’s advice as soon as an employee raises his profile, and then he can become a target in a strategy to get him fired under conditions where his lawsuit will be too weak. So if you are thinking of raising your profile, think hard first, and then think twice. And maybe think again. And maybe get legal advice, because legal fees are nothing compared to losing a job.
  • Your job is actually somewhat different than you think it is — Your REAL job is to make your boss look good. You accomplish that task by doing well the things you do every day in the ordinary course of business. And he or she expects you to be likeable even if you have to “act the part” and even if it hurts — HR doesn’t tell you that those things are your real job — But I’m telling you.
  • Every relationship ends, goodly or badly, and we need to plan for the end at the beginning if possible.
  • The above concepts apply in virtually all job situations — you are not immune, and yes you need to worry about these things. When you get fired, or quit, and need legal advice, all the above concepts will play a huge role in your potential case.

Article written by | Tim Willoughby


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Timslaw.com Missouri Employment Law

Maintained by Attorney Phil Willoughby
Founded by Tim Willoughby, Esq. (1959-2013)

Phil is a Missouri employment lawyer who is licensed to practice in Kansas and Missouri, and primarily takes cases in Saint Louis and Kansas City. He is a member of the Missouri Bar Association and Kansas Bar Association. Additionally, he has practiced in the United States Federal Courts of Missouri in St. Louis and Kansas City. He has also practiced in the Kansas Federal District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.

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Phil Willoughby, Attorney
Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

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