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Funny you should mention it

My husband is friendly and well liked by most who meet

him. But I worry that he jokes around too much at work, forwarding funny

e-mails and instigating minor practical jokes. He works in management and is

being considered for a promotion to another, much larger, division. In my

experience, people who display a more serious attitude are taken more seriously

and treated a bit more respectfully. I have a feeling he's going to have to

learn the hard way to tone down his demeanor. Do you have any suggestions as to

how I could explain this in a way that would make sense to him?

Laugh Track or Career Track?

Steven Darien, chairman and chief executive of the Cabot Advisory Group, a

Bedminster, N.J., firm that advises corporations on workplace issues, said,

"This woman's instincts are good. You never know. Someone you least expect can

file a suit" alleging that you have created a hostile work environment.

"As you go higher in any organization, you need to be a little more

serious," Darien said. "While you've got to have a sense of humor, if you

really want to be taken more seriously, you've got to be more and more careful.

... If his jokes and demeanor are frivolous, he'll be viewed as frivolous." If

the wife doesn't think she can get this thought through to her husband, he

said, she might enlist one of her husband's colleagues to make the point.

What rights does a job applicant have in finding out what results turn up

in an "investigative background check" done by a potential employer? I recently

had one less-than-pleasant experience. I interviewed for one of the large

defense industry companies. They seemed to be very interested in hiring me, but

then ... I wasn't hired. Am I entitled to see what it says?

Application Checked

Diane Seltzer, a Washington lawyer who has represented workers and

corporations alike in employment disputes, said this applicant definitely has a

right to see what that investigation turned up because it involved a potential

government-related hiring.

"A government or contractor employee has a right to request any documents

related to his or her employment application," Seltzer said. "That file would

still be maintained. There could be information in there that relates to why

they weren't hired." She said there's "nothing wrong with asking the company"

again to provide a copy of its investigation. If the company still refuses, she

said, the applicant should file a Freedom of Information request with the

government agency that the company was going to do the work for, which can

easily be done online.

The applicant should "ask for any and all documents related to the

employment application, including any information on references, credit reports

and criminal background checks," Seltzer said.

Carrie Mason-Draffen's

Help Wanted column

will return next week.

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