BougieTales of the Workplace: A Human Resources Nightmare… for a rookie no less

I fell into Human Resources quite by accident. I'd intended to be a lawyer you see. I was going to save the world from injustice one case at a time. And then I figured out that the actual practice of law was nothing like what I saw on Perry Mason, LA Law, Law & Order or The Practice. No, it was work and a lot of it… for years before you got to do the sexy stuff I wanted to do. My professor suggested I get an entry level job and bounce around a large corporation until something appealed to me. I started off as a temp at GTE (now Verizon) Corporate Headquarters. I was the executive assistant to the Senior Director of IT Field Services. Sounds impressive but you can strikethrough all of that and just say "drone who typed fast." Back then I typed about 90 words per minute, I knew all the latest programs and I didn't have to be told things twice. I was a hot commodity. My first job out of college paid $13.50/hour plus overtime and benefits after 90 days… I was high-rolling. Three months into my assignment, the Human Resources girl came into town and asked to "borrow me" for a project. And that was it.

It took me no time at all to realize that being an administrative assistant was not a great fit for me. Me of the side-eyes and seriously's and constantly thinking 'NO one else can DO this?'… not a fit. I wasn't humble enough (then) to make coffee and offer other people's phones. I hated it. I left and went to work for a global photography and imaging company. I went in as a junior recruiter and human resources generalist. Basically, that meant I would fill positions my boss didn't feel like filling and do whatever other random Human Resources tasks fell off someone's desk onto mine. My second day on the job, I did a new hire orientation for an Assistant Vice President of Sales and Marketing. She was a little blonde thing with boobs a little too big, skirt a little too short and answers a little too glib. She gave off a shady vibe and some of her verbal answers didn't match her written ones. [things that make you go hmmm] Seems the Vice President of Sales (a bit of a leech) simply had to have her on board. With a five-figure non-refundable sign-on bonus that they were determined to pay out immediately. I asked the HR Director if we'd thoroughly checked her references… I was told to basically mind my own and get this woman on payroll. "Michele, just do the paperwork and cut the check." Ooo-kay.

The next morning, she whizzed into the parking lot in a brand new red convertible Porsche. Climbed out flashing crotch to all within sightline. I saw all of this from my office window but I turned a blind eye because… I was minding my own. Before week's end, I was called into the conference room for an emergency meeting. I walked in and it's clearly a BFD (big effing deal). Three VPs, the HR Director, my boss (ditzy Recruiting Manager), two other managers and two admin assistants were sitting grim-faced around the table. It seemed as though one of our mid-level managers went into the stock room for supplies and caught AVP Hot Pants bumpin' and a grindin' on the Loading Dock Dude's lap. No, I'm not making this ish up. Middle of the damn day, door not locked and they were sweating up the bubble wrap. Now, Loading Dock Dude was an African American male in his early twenties. He had been with the company for four years, never had a bad performance appraisal and was nine months away from being fully vested. AVP Hot Pants just arrived and had clearly already spent her five-figure bonus. My lips were pursed as tight as they could be so that the words, "I told you something was wrong with that hoochie!" didn't accidently fly out of my mouth.

Then the ridiculous happened. Someone suggested that we reprimand Hot Pants and fire Dock Dude. Instead of screaming, "The HELL?" I calmly pointed out our possible liability and the inferred inequality of that action. They all wanted to fight me because this is a company that was used to doing whatever the heck they wanted and getting away with it. But I was on my game and cited cases (see how the law thing came in handy after all) where companies had been slapped with huge civil actions (not to mention Equal Employment investigations) based on behavior not even as heinous as what they were suggesting. By the time I shared the dollars involved in those cases, they were on my side. But because I opened my big mouth, guess what? "Michele, you handle the investigation and report back to us by next week." My mouth dropped open, "Wha..?" It was my first week on the friggin' job – whatever happened to easing someone in? And then I got it, I was the fall guy. If I jacked this up, they could blame it on the new girl not knowing what she was doing. Fine. I flashed my patented "No Problem" smile and said, "Great, I'll handle it."

I got the surveillance tape from the stock room. That is twenty minutes of my life I wish I had back. There in grainy black and white, old girl waltzed in and went to work on dude. According to the film, she'd been hitting on him all week and he'd been saying no. On this day, the lack of panties seemed to do him in. To his (meager) credit, he did not make the first move. She jumped him (literally). I mean she took him down like a lion on a hapless gazelle near the watering hole. Damn! She had that boy unzipped and covered (she just happened to have a Trojan tucked in bra) in no time flat. I fast forwarded through most of the freaky-deaky but they appeared to quite heavy on the calisthenics and light on style. Anyway, it was clear it did not occur to them that they were on film and that any old body could just walk in. Which is of course what happened. Now HIS face? Mid-Manager? When he walked in and realized what was going on? Priceless.

So I called in Dock Dude first. I asked for his side of the story. He cried. He was married, two kids, and his wife was going to kill him not only for losing the job but how he lost it. So I asked… why? His words, "She just kept throwing it at me, man. She just wouldn't quit. She wouldn't quit. She got me, she got me." And he cried some more. I told him he was suspended without pay while we conducted the rest of the investigation but he could use his personal, sick or vacation time to stay on payroll while we worked it out. He said, "What am I going to tell my wife?!" I said, "Presumably, not what you told me."

Next up was Hot Pants. She came in, flounced down and before I could even ask a question she said, "We both know you don't have the power to fire me. So sure, I did it. So what? I wanted him, I had him. You didn't have me sign a morality clause." I was flabbergasted. Did one need a morality clause to know not to get freaky on company time with the Dock Dude? I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to add to her statement and she shrugged, "Things happen. Get over it and stop being such a prude." She got up and walked out. Did I mention that I taped both of their statements and advised them of this before we got started?

I decided there was no way she hadn't pulled something like this before. I did a little research and it turned out that I had a friend of a friend at her last company. She agreed to meet me for happy hour after work. She not only had the scoop, she had a copy of memos from old girl's file. Lo and behold, she had rather notoriously slept her way to the top at the defense contractor corporation she'd come from. She left a trail of scandal, ill will and skankery everywhere she went. She was also an exhibitionist and had been warned for public lewd (and semi-nude) behavior. When the company threatened to fire her, she threatened to start calling wives. They gave her five figures to leave and not look back. Hot Pants was straight hustling.

The next day, I reached out to the company Hot Pants had worked at before the defense contractor and was informed that under the terms of a legal confidentiality agreement, they were unable to give out any information other than to say that she had been an employee. But I received a voicemail that night saying that under no circumstances should we hire the woman. She was (and I quote), "A menace and a maneater." That was title of the report I passed out at the meeting. My recommendation was to bring back Dock Dude and place him on 30 day performance improvement, to fire Hot Pants, to tighten up pre-employment background checks and to have everyone participate in a Sexual Harassment training and sign an ethics pledge. 100% agreement… but you know who ended up doing all that, right? New dude cried when we brought him back, old girl threatened to sue when we let her go. And I learned to trust my hiring instincts.

So anybody ever have a work nightmarish problem to solve? Ever met a corporate piranha like Hot Pants? What advice would you give Dock Dude? And isn't it amazing the thing people think are okay to do in a "professional" setting? Comments, thoughts, insights… the floor is yours.