Re: At-will Employment

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Breasts II: The Case of the Horny Dentist


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:34 AM
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outside of narrowly defined exceptions, which do not seen to obtain here

I don't know anything about this particular case, but it's still supposed to be unlawful to take an adverse employment action against someone on account of gender.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:36 AM
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Maybe the dentist was bi?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:37 AM
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"At will employment" means what it says (outside of narrowly defined exceptions, which do not seem to obtain here).

This seems like a pretty specific "because she's a woman" firing.

Does "at will" allow for the firing of women for other reasons explicitly related to their gender? "I didn't fire her because she's a woman, I fired her because she is able to give birth?"

Oh. Wait. Never mind.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:37 AM
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1: The most confusing dental experience of one's young life was suffering a very painful cleaning at the hands of a shapely young hygienist who had apparently just commuted from the Playboy Mansion to Western Massachusetts that morning.

But go on, please.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:38 AM
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It certainly could be viewed as a form of sex discrimination, since the Dentist's policy obviously disproportionately favors men (as to whom, presumably, he's not attracted) over otherwise-qualified women. I haven't read the case (and don't really have time to now) so I don't know exactly what issues were in play, but certainly sex discrimination is, in the United States, a clear and long-standing exception to at-will employment, and here it's hard to see "not being too attractive" as a specific occupational requirement of the job, as opposed to a means of discrimination based on sex.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:39 AM
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This can't help his practice, can it? Who, when sitting down and getting their teeth scraped, wouldn't rather be looking up at a hygienist hot enough to threaten a dentist's marriage?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:45 AM
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Me. I like cheerful parental dental assistants who will chatter soothingly at me about their kids' summer studies and changing goals. Hotness not required.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:48 AM
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Who, when sitting down and getting their teeth scraped, wouldn't rather be looking up at a hygienist hot enough to threaten a dentist's marriage?

Neb.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:49 AM
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such firings do not count as illegal sex discrimination because they are motivated by feelings, not gender.

OF COURSE THEY'RE MOTIVATED BY FEELINGS.


Posted by: OPINIONATED DAVID HUME | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:53 AM
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What Halford & Potchkeh & PF said. It's not completely insane to think, as Knecht apparently does, that "firing someone because of attraction" is conceptually distinct from "discriminating based on sex" and thus remains within the prerogatives of the at-will employer, but he's a bit behind the times on this one: Catherine MacKinnon's "Sexual Harassment of Working Women" came out in 1979, she got the EEOC to sign on to her "sexual harassment = sex discrimination" framework in 1980, and the Supreme Court agreed in 1986. A brief overview.

I'm ... a bit surprised that Knecht is unaware of these developments. Different in topless enlightened Europe, I suppose. I suppose I'm also a bit surprised by the Iowa Supreme Court, but I assume they were litigating a cause of action originating under state rather than federal law; I guess Iowa never adopted that aspect of sex-discrimination doctrine. Or maybe these guys are just sexist douchebags and are overturning precedent.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:54 AM
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Maybe the dentist's wife has pictures of the Iowa Supreme Court getting a good cleaning?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:55 AM
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"Your honor hasn't been flossing, you bad boy."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 11:56 AM
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And the story at the link in 4 is awful and a good reminder about what a terrible person Robert Bork was.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 12:01 PM
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11.last: looks like it was both state and fed. Have now skimmed the opinion and in my uninformed view the majority opinion is complete horseshit; the concurrence is a little better, suggesting the firing was about conduct rather than gender stereotyping/discrimination (and suggesting that if this was merely about the uncontrollable fire in the dentist's loins, the outcome might be different). Still inclined to think it's wrong though.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 12:03 PM
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Yeah, I just did a quick skim and agree totally with 15. Horseshit, as a legal matter (though I'm not an employment lawyer. But seriously the decision just looks like pure horseshit and specious reasoning). I didn't know the Iowa Supreme Court was now this bad, presumably Republicans are to blame.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 12:29 PM
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Sounds like a plotline from Mad Men. "Newly sensitive Roger fires his secretary because he realizes he is attracted to her. Roger sleeps with Joan instead. Don sleeps with the fired secretary."


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 12:40 PM
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Hmm, I thought they had pretty all much survived after they had election challenged after they legalized gay marriage. But turns out, The Court had three vacancies following the defeat of three justices in the November 2, 2010, retention election. Those were all filled by the Republican Governor (appointed for a year or so and then they stand for election).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 12:41 PM
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Looking it up, though (why am I doing this?) it looks like there was one Democratic appointee who signed on fully to the majority opinion, and two others (plus an older Republican appointee) who signed on to the not quite as bad, but still pretty awful, concurrence. So unadulterated new-school wingnuttery by itself may not be entirely to blame (though I know absolutely zero about the details of internal Iowa politics, maybe the Democrats were also wingnuts who were appointed in some kind of political deal).

I don't often buy this kind of super-reductive analysis, but in this particular case it really truly does seem like maybe the result was driven by the fact that this was a 100% male court.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:12 PM
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Yikes to OP. I'm wondering, then, about a circumstance like a church friend of my parents, who complained to his boss that he would no longer go on business trips with women, because it would force him to cheat on his wife. He wasn't complaining that any particular woman was threatening to forcibly rape him, just that business trips with women created an irresistible situation for him in which he would not be able not to have sex with them.

My mother immediately saw that, if taken seriously by his bosses, this would lead to gender discrimination. Women would not be sent on important trips, and would be less able to get promotions, etc. We think his company basically decided to act like he hadn't said anything at all, but it's unclear.

Would a decision like this protect a company who decided to favor a male employee claiming sexual incontinence as a reason for denying work to women? I think it already does, all the time, in unspoken ways. (I am regularly soft-excluded from various social-professional spaces in my workplace because of my gender, singleness, and sexual orientation, in the "oh we assumed you couldn't possibly be interested in dinner with us, you dangerous childless bisexual" way.) But to make it explicitly OK to talk about denying women employment because of sexual incontinence is really fucking disturbing.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:17 PM
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sexual incontinence

Every thread becomes about peeing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:19 PM
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It certainly could be viewed as a form of sex discrimination, since the Dentist's policy obviously disproportionately favors men (as to whom, presumably, he's not attracted) over otherwise-qualified women.

Except that the fired woman was replaced by a (presumably less attractive) woman. At minimum, that's a bad fact for the plaintiff's theory: "It's not that I don't want to hire women: I just don't want to hire you (for reasons that the law does not forbid)."


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:23 PM
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Meh. Knowing nothing about the case but what's in the opnion(s), I am skeptical about the description of the record in the concurrence. Meaning that I doubt the record is as unfavorable to this plaintiff as the concurrence suggests.

Now, by making the facts look bad for this particular plaintiff, maybe they make it possible to distinguish the majority holding on the facts in some future case. (Or, more cynically, just reduce the chances of Supreme Court review in this case.) But they do it by throwing Nelson under the bus.

Not that I have anything solid to base that reading on. But this case was decided on summary judgment and there are some things that the concurrence says about the evidence (e.g., "insufficient evidence offered by Nelson in light of the undisputed evidence of a consensual personal relationship") that sound dodgy to me.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:24 PM
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Would a decision like this protect a company who decided to favor a male employee claiming sexual incontinence as a reason for denying work to women?

From my quick skim, I'd say that is distinguishable from the OP case (because you'd have a clear argument, in generally favoring the male employee, that the sex discrmination was an affirmative policy, not simply an isolated case of personal attraction). So I don't know that the decision itself protects that situation. On the other hand, the OP case is a really bad and stupid decision, that looks to me to be not only really sexist but pretty indefensible on the law, and could certainly lead to all kinds of other mischief. So who knows?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:24 PM
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Things would be better if there was full employment and workers found it easy to get work. It cuts down on the firing for stupid reasons when employers find it hard to fill vacancies.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:25 PM
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Also agree with 23.

22 is, frankly, pretty stupid. The issue is whether the law forbids not hiring (or, in this case, firing) for the reasons given by the dentist. Even the majority opinion seems to agree that a general policy of not hiring or promoting women because of their attractiveness and potential for male sexual incontinence is not a permissible reason for an employment decision.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:27 PM
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26: AFAIK plaintiffs have been mostly unsuccessful claiming unlawful sex discrimination in the reverse case, where the employer manifestly favored attractive women over unattractive women. I'm not sure how reversing the situation creates a viable theory where none existed before.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:31 PM
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The hiring attractive women cases generally arise in situations where attractiveness is an occupational qualification -- i.e., you can have an attractiveness requirement at Hooters, because their whole business requires having attractive women as employees.

A policy of "we will impose an attractiveness criteria for hiring on women only, but not on men, for a job (like a dental assistant) where attractiveness is more or less irrelevant" would, I think, very clearly be sex discrimination, and impermissible under current law.

Really, I think this whole line of argument is kind of beneath you, frankly.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:35 PM
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Frankly!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:35 PM
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27: Really? I'm surprised by that, unless you're talking about a situation where looks are a bonafide occupational qualification. I can't think of a case I know offhand where that was the issue, but again, I'd be really surprised.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:36 PM
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Or what Halford said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:36 PM
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Of course, under Halfordismo, being attractive (and female) is indeed a bona fide occupational qualification for being a bodyguard to the Priest-King.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:38 PM
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20.3(), I just wanted to say I'm sorry you're in that situation. It sucks.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:38 PM
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22: Except that the fired woman was replaced by a (presumably less attractive) woman.

This analysis fails under Vinson, which holds, in effect, that replacing one woman (who won't have sex with the boss) with another woman (who presumably may) is still sex discrimination.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:39 PM
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This, specifically:

A policy of "we will impose an attractiveness criteria for hiring on women only, but not on men, for a job (like a dental assistant) where attractiveness is more or less irrelevant" would, I think, very clearly be sex discrimination, and impermissible under current law.

If there's a requirement imposed on women that's not, or wouldn't be, imposed on men in the same job, that's patently discriminatory.

(Some loon who explicitly said "I refuse to employ ugly people", and imposed gender neutral standards of prettiness on men and women would probably get away with it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:39 PM
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"It's not that I don't want to hire women: I just don't want to hire you (for reasons that the law does not forbid)."

In addition to what 26.last said (and, on preview, 34), that's not the relevant Title VII issue: the real issue is, "did I take an adverse employment action against you on account of your sex (regardless of whatever self-serving label I put on the reason)?" Hostility toward all women is not a prerequisite.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:42 PM
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This analysis fails under Vinson

Is that the standard applied in cases where wrongful dismissal is claimed? IANAL, obvs.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:54 PM
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Some loon who explicitly said "I refuse to employ ugly people", and imposed gender neutral standards of prettiness on men and women would probably get away with it

That's my understanding as well, though one can easily understand why the dentist declined to mount that defense in front of the Iowa Supreme Court in its current composition.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 1:56 PM
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37: Not sure exactly what you're asking, and I don't think that Vinson is really at issue here, but if you mean "can a woman claim that her termination violated Title VII even if she was replaced by another woman?" I am fairly certain the answer is yes.

Also 27 is definitely wrong, and if you don't believe Halford and LB, even the Iowa SC opinion in this case cites a bunch of cases of sex discrimination predicated on employers taking adverse action against women who do not live up to the employer's standards of attractiveness. Better be careful promoting those sheer-bloused underlings.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:01 PM
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Sounds like a plotline from Mad Men.

It was literally the plot line of an L.A. Law. Can't remember if the plaintiff won or not.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:03 PM
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Anyway, I would be delighted if Halford, JMS et al. are correct that a typical court applying well-established precedent would have come to a different judgment. Because, really, that guy is a jackass, and I'd like for the law to supply a just remedy to a woman in her situation.

Nevertheless I continue to feel more outrage at the generalized lack of employment protection than the specific challenges faced by excessively attractive women in Iowa, disturbing as those may be.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:06 PM
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41: I don't think that's what Halford, JMS et al. are claiming, and if they are, they're wrong. There does not appear to be any well-established precedent under which the hygienist should have won. But there's also no well-established precedent under which she should have lost (which seemed to be what you were claiming), and the reason this decision is horseshit is that, instead of engaging in good faith with the purposes of Title VII and its Iowa equivalent to figure out an arguably open question, the majority basically just trotted out an unimpressive parade of horribles that they think would result if the hygienist won here, clucked about how civil rights law isn't supposed to make the world perfectly fair, and pretended their hands were tied.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:12 PM
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The dentist had lesser remedies that he didn't even try. He could have instituted a new uniform policy requiring Nixon masks or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:14 PM
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which seemed to be what you were claiming

Nah, nothing quite so strong. The strongest claim I would have made (from my amateur perspective) was that the ruling wasn't obviously wrong ("I don't see how it's wrong as a matter of law").


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:18 PM
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Auto-castration.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:23 PM
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Auto-castration.

NOOOOOOOOOO!


Posted by: OPINIONATED AUTOS | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:26 PM
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Also, if ever there was a suit the defendant should have settled to make it go away...

I reckon there's a lot of snickering going on at the Rotary Club.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:27 PM
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Hiring a series of prostitutes to maintain a continual state of sexual exhaustion keeping him from an affair with her.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:27 PM
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Bicycling until impotent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:29 PM
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It's lawful to fire an at-will employee due to problems with your (assume non-sexual) relationship with the employee. It's unlawful to fire an at-will employee due to her sex.

So, the court justifies its decision by finding that the employee in this instance was fired for her relationship rather than her sex. This interpretation of the facts seems wacky to me, given that her relationship with her boss seemed pretty innocuous. It seems like the court is bending over backward to find for the defendant.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:32 PM
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Defecating on his own legs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:36 PM
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Really, I think this whole line of argument is kind of beneath you, frankly.

Meanwhile, the search has been called off for a line of argument beneath Halford.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:47 PM
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Defecating in the little spit-toilet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:51 PM
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In fairness to knecht, and as another non-lawyer, I assumed my 4 was incorrect, to the point of actually ending with what amounted to a disclaimer.

At-will employment is really quite close to a blank check for employers. I mean, if you can't fire her without admitting the real reason, you are a failure in the American system.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 2:58 PM
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He didn't fire her because she is a woman, he fired her because she was his friend.

You people should be agitating your state legislatures to get rid of employment at will. I can send copies of the Montana Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act if you think your state might be interested in joining the modern world.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 3:16 PM
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I did not know about 55!

As a practical matter, do you think it's made much difference (this is a genuine, not an argumentative, question).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 3:19 PM
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I know of people who've gotten settlements after questionable terminations they'd never have been able to get in a common law jurisdiction.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 3:29 PM
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There's a model act from the uniform acts people. Not perfect, but better than pure at will.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 3:33 PM
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Nevertheless I continue to feel more outrage at the generalized lack of employment protection than the specific challenges faced by excessively attractive women in Iowa, disturbing as those may be.

The thing is, it doesn't just affect excessively attractive women, but any woman whose boss is excessively attracted to her. As AWB's comments illustrate, it's part of the same thinking that leaves women frequently excluded from the sorry of informal networking at work that leads to advancement advancement. Joe gets the assignment because he goes for drinks with Pete all the time. Pete Never has drinks with Jen because omg what if sex happened?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 4:04 PM
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55.2 would be lovely here, but I'm not optimistic. 15 months on from the start of Lee's thing, we're still waiting to hear whether the school has looked at the facts (secretary gossip suggests finally yes) and hoping they'll settle because I hate court so much and they'd have to be really stupid to go for it, and yet stupid can often win in an at-will state.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 4:08 PM
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omg what if sex happened?

Jen would sue. That's why Pete won't get drinks with her.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 4:17 PM
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59: not disputing your concern as it applies to the legal environment we have, but I'd much rather have the burden of proof on the employer to show good cause for dismissing an employee - whether or not a member of a protected group - than to make it marginally easier for a member of a protected group to meet the burden of proof that the dismissal fell under one of the narrow exceptions to at-will employment. And I'd like two ponies with that.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 4:29 PM
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61: Is Pete that shitty in bed or really crude afterward?


Posted by: Opinionated Joe | Link to this comment | 07-12-13 4:31 PM
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OT but re employment, I'm interviewing for a job on Monday*, which they just told me on Friday is a five hour "behavioral-based" interview, which method I'd never heard of before but now that I've read a bit about it I'm honestly not sure the job is worth putting myself through that. I may call and cancel the interview. I mean, christ, trying to answer those questions on the fly while under stress is something I will be TERRIBLE at. If that's the interview, there's just absolutely no chance that I don't bomb it.

I could sit down and prepare answers to most of those questions, but nothing just springs to mind for really almost any of them. And that's sitting comfortably at home, not in the pressure of an interview.

*Why? I have no idea. It's a good job, but I already have a good job. Really, what the hell am I doing?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 6:58 PM
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About the only thing I that might make a 5-hour barrage of behavioral-based interview questions tolerable is a few stiff drinks beforehand. (That's not a joke.) But that seems like it would cause as many problems as it would solve.

There should be laws against this sort of thing.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 7:06 PM
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Answer every question with reference to your plumbing issues.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 7:08 PM
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Oh, that was the wrong link. Better link. (Not that it matters.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 7:22 PM
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urple should totally get drunk before he does this interview. Then he needs to report back to us on how it goes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 7:24 PM
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Get drunk, warm up on some critiques of work, come back and be witty about how badly it went.

But seriously, that does sound like a horrible interview.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 10:13 PM
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(the first link in 69 gets a lot of its charm by de-sacralizing jobs cooler than mine, but it might be right anyway. Or perhaps we will be saved from disaster by a telephone repairman (Second Class) and a cake-pop artist.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 10:46 PM
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the first link in 69 gets a lot of its charm by de-sacralizing jobs cooler than mine, but it might be right anyway

I find the argument pretty convincing overall, but the piece itself annoys me in a variety of ways that probably stem mostly from the discourse it's a part of.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 11:28 PM
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I'd refuse any five hour interview that didn't include a meal and drinks. (Or my hourly rate). Tell them that. Or text them a picture of a penis, whatever.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 11:35 PM
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Maybe we should help urple come up with answers to the questions at the link in 67. I think we have plenty of source material from his comments here.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 11:39 PM
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For example, question 1:

1. Tell us about a time when your work on an idea of yours was criticized. How did you handle it?

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 11:40 PM
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"My work" on an idea "of mine" that's confusing. We could talk about the time if we should allow obviously high truckers drive loads of our valuable equipment (I was on no).


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 11:46 PM
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Some other good ones:

9. Describe a situation when you found yourself challenged. Were you successful? If not, why?
17. Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to extricate yourself from a difficult situation.
36. Describe a time when you showed strong initiative.
39. Have you ever performed duties that were beyond the scope of your job description?
45. Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas? What was your approach?
50. How do you motivate people? Give a speciļ¬c example of something that you have done in your career that helped build enthusiasm in others.
53. Give an example of when your persistence had the biggest payoff.
59. Describe a major problem you have faced and how you dealt with it. Describe a situation when you effectively solved a problem by combining different approaches.
64. What do you do when your priorities don't match the priorities of those around you?
69. How do you approach the challenge of unfamiliar tasks? Give us an example.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 11:56 PM
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75: Do you also have a five-hour behavioral interview coming up?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-13-13 11:57 PM
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24.What is your philosophy of customer service?

― No longer raise up your arm against them. Numberless are they, and it is not your lot to shoo flies. Numberless are these small and miserable
creatures; and many a proud building has perished of raindrops and weeds. You are no stone, but you have already become hollow from many drops. You will yet burst from many drops. I see you wearied by poisonous flies, bloody in a hundred places; and your pride refuses even to be angry. Blood is what they want from you in all innocence. Their bloodless souls crave blood, and so they sting in all innocence. But you, you deep one, suffer too deeply even from small wounds; and even before you have healed, the same poisonous worm crawls over your
hand. You are too proud to kill these greedy creatures. But beware lest it become your downfall that you suffer all their poisonous injustice.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 12:18 AM
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71: The `you deserve no more: dig, mole' discourse?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 12:55 AM
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No, the "how do we keep the machines from taking our (professional upper middle class) jobs?" discourse.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 12:57 AM
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7. Give me an example of a specific occasion in which you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.

This one really upsets me. I'm not sure how I'd answer it. There are a lot of things I disagree with that I'd be uncomfortable expressing in a work environment. That is, I wouldn't want to admit to disagreeing with a particular policy.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 7:54 AM
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I've participated on the giving end of a fair number of behavioral interviews. My actual advice, be specific and germane. And if it turns out you've always been right and everyone else has always been wrong I vote against you with extreme prejudice. But maybe that's just me.

But I am intrigued by teo's approach of using examples from here.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 8:41 AM
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The trouble with teo's selection of questions is that they would all have a common answer involving an egg, a plastic cup, and a "bean thing".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 9:04 AM
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83: I think dinosaur/birds could work for some as well as plumbing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 12:43 PM
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I can actually sort of see the intent, compared to regular interview questions. But I swear there's something about these sort of questions that digs into exactly some axis on which my brain just does not function. Maybe most people have relatively little trouble with them, and, for example, if they've had an experience that's on point for the question, they can call it to mind easily. Or, if they haven't, they can call to mind whatever the closest parallel/best available answer is, and give that as their answer.

For whatever reason, I... just can't. Even when I have a great answer, I need some time to think about it to come up with anything at all. (Not 5-10 seconds... more like 5-10 minutes.) On first blush, my answer to every single one of these is "...... Um.... Hmm......"

I'm sure if this problem were widespread, these sort of interviews wouldn't be so popular. So I'm a statistical fluke, or something. But damn. I'm serious when I say I'm thinking of just cancelling the interview, because I don't understand how I could end up doing anything other than bombing it, so it sounds like a waste of time and a horrible experience. Ugh.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 5:44 PM
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85: It will give you practice, and since you don't actually need the job, you'll be a bit less stressed about it.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 5:49 PM
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My actual advice, be specific and germane.

That's the problem, isn't it? Who on earth can think of five hours' worth of great, specific, germane, and truthful anecdotes about that sort of thing on the fly? No one. And the prospect of preparing enough to make it possible to do it at all seems horrid and also mean. So this leaves one with option three: prepare some and mostly lie your ass off. Hooray!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 5:57 PM
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Yes, 5 seems a bit much. But then we usually do 4, but maybe 1/2 of that is behavioral.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 6:04 PM
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I mean, quesiton 1:

Tell us about a time when your work on an idea of yours was criticized. How did you handle it?

As a junior lawyer my work was criticized constantly. Every document that I drafted. (It still is, but not as frequently.) And I think I handled it well--I learned from the mistakes and got better. (More quickly than a lot of other people did, if I'm bragging.)

But... I can't think of a single "time" worth telling anything about, to illustrate this. There is no narrative. It was a bunch of documents with a bunch of comments on them. Or conversations about documents. Etc.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 6:08 PM
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It's not like I even remember any specific comments. I probably could if I thought long enough, but... really? Is that's what's being asked here?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 6:09 PM
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(That's half my reaction to that question. The other half is "...your work on an idea of yours..."? Is this supposed to be a time when my work was criticized, or when an idea of mine was criticized? Or does it really have to be "my work on an idea of mine"? Because I'm honestly not sure that's ever happened. You mean a truly original idea? Because I don't have many of those. (But: let me tell you about a sex act.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 6:14 PM
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I'm with you, urple.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 6:16 PM
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Overthinking. Granted, I knownothing about these are viewed for lawyers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 6:28 PM
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I get that 91 is overthinking, but what about 89?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 6:46 PM
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Those questions are horrible. Appropriate for a college application assay, where you choose the two you can actually answer. Can't be answered off the top of your head, verbally, of course.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 6:58 PM
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7. Give me an example of a specific occasion in which you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.

A: Well, for this one job that looked pretty good, I had to do a 5-hour behavioral interview...


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 8:08 PM
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You should answer half of the questions with anecdotes about running a McDonald's, and half of the questions with anecdotes about running the State Department.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 8:39 PM
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So, I don't want to be the one to defend behavioral interviews (although I find them better than some other interview techniques for our purposes at our work place, but not lawyers and not scientific work).*

However, in 89, OK, don't use the specific instances, but the pattern with some detail on the kinds of things that were generally corrected and how you learned from it and practices you might now use to get it right the first time.

*And of course it is certainly more fun to be on the making fun side of these things, an option which I generally avail myself of.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 9:12 PM
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One of my kids just had a nightmare interview. Not a behavioral one, but three-and-a-half hours of super intensity with the investigator who ran the lab and which has only the one assistant. Long story, but don't think he will be offered the job, and I might have advised him not to take it even then given the character of the interview. I suspect it was a microcosm of every day at work.

Actually, he is in NYC tonight with an interview tomorrow. He needs to catch the subway at Union Station which was looking like this earlier today. (Yeah I know, not tomorrow morning.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-14-13 9:23 PM
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Good luck with the interview, Urple. If all else fails try cock jokes.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-15-13 5:20 AM
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"how do we keep the machines from taking our (professional upper middle class) jobs?" discourse.

_With Folded Hands_? _The Purple Wage_? Is it jobs we want to keep, or a lush subsistence, or social status? Also, missing a trick to say the machines are taking them; no velleity there yet.

I think saying "how do we keep machines/foreigners from taking our jobs" when the real problem is "how do we make sure everyone has a fair shot at scarce resources" is likely to backfire. E.g., we might be offered the strategy "by going into education debt and taking unpaid internships and working eighty hours a week!" and find ourselves, a generation in, more precarious than before.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-15-13 11:28 AM
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This was news to me.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 9:24 AM
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102: I think it was mentioned here before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-16-13 9:31 AM
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