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?
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
"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.
Help Wanted column
will return next week.