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Brett Favre: Now Reminding You That HR Can Be Lonely Sometimes....

In case you missed it over the weekend, reports are out that accuse Brett Favre of sending some questionable texts and pictures to multiple female employees and contractors when he was with the New York Jets.  Need the rundown?  Here you go, courtesy of USA Today (click through for more details):

"Brett Favre spent his 41st birthday on Sunday at the center of a scandal that had the NFL Jenn-Sterger-Brett-Favre-300x225 investigating allegations that he sent inappropriate messages to a female employee of the New York Jets in 2008.

The NFL confirmed it had opened a query into whether Favre had violated the terms of the league's personal-conduct policy. Deadspin posted a video on Thursday in which it alleged that Favre had sent inappropriate messages and photos to Jenn Sterger, who was a gameday host for the Jets in the one season he played for the team."

Bret Favre's personal life is just that - personal.  But the story provides a great illustration related to being a leader in HR.  Sometimes the job sucks.

You have no desire to do what happens next related to questioning/investigation.  But you're the one with the skills.

The naysayers will tell you that you have no right and no need to dig into a scene from someone's personal life from an investigation standpoint.  You would like to believe that, but you know better - you have to take at least a brief flyer on this type of case and investigate (just like the NFL is going to do) for the following reasons:

1. The series of texts involved specific employees and contractors.  Others are watching.  You need to dig in as a result.

2. If you don't do some due diligence, you're setting yourself up for a hostile environment harassment suit.

3. The texts represent a judgment issue.  Think your CEO doesn't want you to determine if someone like Favre is broken from a judgment perspective?  Whether the investigation would result in you removing Favre from the company or not, you need to know whether you can trust the judgment moving forward.  That tells you whether you can put the employee in question in front of customers, prospects, other employees, etc.

At the end of the day, if the judgment impacted other employees, you have to investigate it and determine outcomes.  Even if the employee in question is a hero to many.  Especially if the employee in question is a hero to many.

You're the one who gets to call people into a room and ask some very pointed, tough questions. HR is a lonely place. Who knew Brett Favre would remind us of that?

Comments

Pat Wood

While this is the first I've heard of this since I was away all weekend, this is a great reminder of things we need to suck up and just do even if we're all alone at the end of the day... it's an unfortunate part of our job.

George Wrong

Favre is a former employee of the Jets, and Sterger is also a former employee. The alleged incident occurred over a year ago and was reported by someone other than Sterger. Why the need to investigate that? As for any current employees, if it was over a year ago, Favre hasn't been an employee for over a year, and no one complained, it still seems unnecessary to investigate.

Interviewer

George, an investigation may lead you down a totally unexpected path. What if there are a dozen more after her? What if he threatened them to stay quiet about it, or paid them for their silence? You always have to be thinking when something like this comes up: there's more to the story. There's more to find out.

Due diligence should always be done. Even if you think the imaginary HR statute of limitations is over, it may be a much bigger deal in ways you can't even imagine, until you do the work.

Michelle

To follow up on Interviewer's response to George, it isn't the Jets that are investigating, it is the NFL. Farve still works in the NLF and may be still behaving in a way that breaches the NFL's moral conduct code. Because of this the NFL (not his past team) that has the obligation to investigate. Think of this as an employee of a major conglomerate. Just because the employee transferred to another division/company since the original behavior was noticed doesn't mean the parent company doesn't have an obligation to investigate.

And yes, HR can be a very lonely profession. That is why I always laugh when young HR pros say they want to work in HR because they love people. Sadly we often get to be involved with folks when they are at their best (hipos) and at their worst (performance or policy violations). When these two groups intersect is when it is the trickiest and most unfortunate.

Warner C

We DO know lonely. My dad, the retired funeral director has told me more than once that he could never do my job!

MBrisciana_HR

All excellent points. One more ... failing to investigate would indicate that there are two sets of rules in the organization (in this case, the NFL): one for "stars" and one for everyone else.

"Precedent" enters into the situation, as well. NFL Commissioner recently suspended another star (Ben Roethlisberger)for 4 games for personal conduct issues. If they reprimanded one star, it would be hard to be consistent if they didn't at least look into this one -- especially since it involves alleged WORKPLACE issues.

In a way, this could be a good thing for the HR profession ... showing that if federal employment regulations apply in the "fantasy world" of sports, they certainly apply in our workplaces. Perhaps managers will take harassment issues more seriously if even their sports heroes are held accountable. The fallout will be interesting to observe.

Jorgen Thormohlen

Just another example of how HR has become the trash can of organizations. All we do now is process complaints, investigate what happens in the playground called the workplace, respond to EEOC complaints, and fill out reams of FML form. I am so old I remember when HR actually did innovative work. Am I cynical? Yes. Would I encourage any smart college students to pursue a career in HR? No.

GlennCathryn

I guess that to get the credit loans from banks you ought to present a firm motivation. However, once I have received a term loan, just because I wanted to buy a car.

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