Thursday, August 9, 2012

Should You Tell Your Employer About Your Side Job?

Source:  Rebecca Thompson, U.S. News and World Report, August 9, 2012

Low wages, pay freezes, and the threat of layoffs mean that for many employees a second job is a necessity. But does your employer agree?
While a side job can mean the difference between "making it" and financial ruin, companies have become more stringent in regulating what their employees do outside of work. Some organizations prohibit side jobs altogether, while others enforce disciplinary action ranging from immediate dismissal, to a written reprimand, to a demotion.
From a company's perspective, it's for good reason. But don't allow your employer's policies and red tape to scare you away from creating financial padding and learning new skills. Whether you take on additional work as a freelancer, consultant, floor salesperson, or start selling your handcrafted goods, moonlighting can be your path toward building a better future.
If you decide to set up shop outside your current workplace, set up a meeting with your boss first. You need to request approval even if there are no explicit policies regarding side jobs in the employee handbook. (Hint: And if a second job is clearly prohibited, you can still ask.) Don't risk getting fired or losing extra income over a simple five-minute conversation. Here's how:
Know Why Your Company is Worried
Employers typically don't see any advantages to their employees working side jobs, but it can be beneficial for both employer and employee, stimulating creativity, motivation, and new ideas. The key is to keep the focus on your current position:
Put the company first. Most employers want to hear that you'll continue to put your job at their company first. Assuage your manager's concerns by letting her know you won't work at your second job during office hours and that you'll still be able to work overtime during periods of heavy work. Show your commitment to your current position as a priority.
Lay out how you'll remain effective. Your boss doesn't want you to be overwhelmed and fatigued just because you're workingmultiple jobs, so lay out the strategies that will allow you to remain just as effective as you are now. Don't talk about the new job; discuss how you'll continue to rock your current one.
Keep quiet about confidential information. A small number of companies will be concerned that you'll leak confidential, in-house information, particularly if your side job is utilizing the same skills that your existing job does. If you can't get permission to work in the same vertical, try a side job in a different arena all together.
Act as a good representative. What you do off-hours can seem like none of your employer's business, but it is, especially if what you're doing could be deemed offensive to your employer's customers. Make sure that whatever side job you choose won't put you in an awkward position with any of your company's clients, partners, or customers.
These tips should get you quick approval to take on the side job you've been dreaming about. If you can't get approval however, consider volunteering or taking a career development class. While many employers won't support you getting paid to expand your skill set, they will endorse broadening your horizons in general.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tuesday Morning’s ousted CEO files discrimination charges against the furniture retailer

From:  The Washington Post, August 3, 2012
By:  Associated Press

The ousted CEO of furniture retailer Tuesday Morning Corp. has filed discrimination charges against the company, saying she was sent packing after the board learned she had breast cancer.
Kathleen Mason also is seeking unspecified damages and her old job back. The discrimination charges were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Dallas.
A representative for Tuesday Morning declined to comment.
Mason’s attorney, Rogge Dunn, said board members’ attitude toward Mason changed after she disclosed she had cancer. He says one board member even made a sarcastic comment about her wig.
The Dallas-based discount retailer announced in June that it was firing Mason, who had been CEO since 2009. It lowered its financial outlook at the same time.
In announcing Mason’s firing, the company said it was time to transition leadership to a “new executive who will guide the company through its next stage.” It promoted Michael Marchetti, its executive vice president and chief operating officer, as interim CEO. Mason said at the time that she was surprised by the move.
Tuesday Morning, which sells closeout housewares and home decor, reported in April that its third-quarter loss widened as fewer people visited its stores and bought less each visit. The company had planned to revamp its website and improve its marketing to help improve slowing sales.
Dunn says that Mason informed the board of her cancer so they wouldn’t be alarmed if she began losing her hair or growing gaunt as a result of treatment. But he said the board’s attitude toward Mason soon began to change and she was fired less than three months later.
Board members started contacting Mason’s subordinates directly, which they hadn’t done before, Dunn said. In March, he said one board member made a sarcastic comment about how nice Mason’s hair looked; she was wearing a wig at the time.
“One of the reasons Kathleen is doing this is not just for herself, but for others in the workplace,” Dunn said. “A lot of times there’s overreaction and misunderstanding by employers about cancer.”
Tuesday Morning has about 850 stores across the country.