Rebel Human Resources Podcast

Episode 33: Employment Law and Poop Jokes with Kate Bischoff

March 02, 2021 Kyle Roed / Kate Bischoff Season 1 Episode 33
Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 33: Employment Law and Poop Jokes with Kate Bischoff
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Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 33: Employment Law and Poop Jokes with Kate Bischoff
Mar 02, 2021 Season 1 Episode 33
Kyle Roed / Kate Bischoff

Kyle, Molly, and Patrick discuss employment law with Kate Bischoff, Founder of tHRive Law and Consulting.  

About tHRive Law and Consulting:  For the most part, employment lawyers are litigators, handling everything employment-related from Charges of Discrimination to wage and hour class actions and noncompetition injunctions.  Employment lawyers believe—and to a certain extent, they’re right—that this litigation experience means they know what compliance looks like and how to meet it.  Yet, like most attorneys, they have spent virtually no time in the HR trenches.  They haven’t faced the tough decisions of how to meet customer demands and provide the healthy work-life balance employees desire or how to meet business objectives with limited resources.  So to them, compliance means strict adherence to the law without looking at other pragmatic solutions that are both lawful and business-friendly.

As a human resources professional, an employment law attorney, and an adjunct professor of HR compliance, I’ve seen and heard people do and say some really goofy and inappropriate things in the workplace.  But each time there’s ridiculousness, there are also people doing their best to make an organization the best it can be. These people inspire me.  They’ve inspired me to get my SPHR and SHRM-SCP certification and work with them to make workplaces better.

And we do. We develop procedures, policies, trainings, and strategies to meet organizational goals.  I’ve worked with organizations to be compliant, investigate wrongdoing, litigate claims of all sizes, and resolve conflicts.  After 14 years doing of doing this, I’m now a frequent speaker on compliance topics and get to work with some of the most innovative companies that are using innovative techniques – including technology – to grow and achieve.

HR can be a lonely profession.  Whether you’re a department-of-one or have many HR compatriots with you, a trusted confidante is important, not only to talk through scenarios with you but also spot legal pitfalls that could result in litigation.  Whether over coffee, lunch, or a glass of wine or beer, I’d love to get to know you, your organization, and how I can help.

For more information about me, let’s connect!

https://www.linkedin.com/in/k8bisch/
https://thrivelawconsulting.com/
https://twitter.com/k8bisch
https://www.facebook.com/HWEPodcast/

Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.

Subscribe today on your favorite podcast player!  

We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

Follow Rebel HR Podcast at:

www.rebelhumanresources.com
https://twitter.com/rebelhrguy
https://www.facebook.com/rebelhrpodcast
www.kyleroed.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-roed/

We love to hear from our listeners!  Send us questions or comments at kyleroed@gmail.com

Rebel On, HR Rebels!

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/rebelhumanresources)

Show Notes Transcript

Kyle, Molly, and Patrick discuss employment law with Kate Bischoff, Founder of tHRive Law and Consulting.  

About tHRive Law and Consulting:  For the most part, employment lawyers are litigators, handling everything employment-related from Charges of Discrimination to wage and hour class actions and noncompetition injunctions.  Employment lawyers believe—and to a certain extent, they’re right—that this litigation experience means they know what compliance looks like and how to meet it.  Yet, like most attorneys, they have spent virtually no time in the HR trenches.  They haven’t faced the tough decisions of how to meet customer demands and provide the healthy work-life balance employees desire or how to meet business objectives with limited resources.  So to them, compliance means strict adherence to the law without looking at other pragmatic solutions that are both lawful and business-friendly.

As a human resources professional, an employment law attorney, and an adjunct professor of HR compliance, I’ve seen and heard people do and say some really goofy and inappropriate things in the workplace.  But each time there’s ridiculousness, there are also people doing their best to make an organization the best it can be. These people inspire me.  They’ve inspired me to get my SPHR and SHRM-SCP certification and work with them to make workplaces better.

And we do. We develop procedures, policies, trainings, and strategies to meet organizational goals.  I’ve worked with organizations to be compliant, investigate wrongdoing, litigate claims of all sizes, and resolve conflicts.  After 14 years doing of doing this, I’m now a frequent speaker on compliance topics and get to work with some of the most innovative companies that are using innovative techniques – including technology – to grow and achieve.

HR can be a lonely profession.  Whether you’re a department-of-one or have many HR compatriots with you, a trusted confidante is important, not only to talk through scenarios with you but also spot legal pitfalls that could result in litigation.  Whether over coffee, lunch, or a glass of wine or beer, I’d love to get to know you, your organization, and how I can help.

For more information about me, let’s connect!

https://www.linkedin.com/in/k8bisch/
https://thrivelawconsulting.com/
https://twitter.com/k8bisch
https://www.facebook.com/HWEPodcast/

Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.

Subscribe today on your favorite podcast player!  

We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

Follow Rebel HR Podcast at:

www.rebelhumanresources.com
https://twitter.com/rebelhrguy
https://www.facebook.com/rebelhrpodcast
www.kyleroed.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-roed/

We love to hear from our listeners!  Send us questions or comments at kyleroed@gmail.com

Rebel On, HR Rebels!

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/rebelhumanresources)

Kate Bischoff:

Yeah, I and I'm telling HR people embrace the bathroom stall, like take that captive audience that you have, because they're sitting there pooping, and put the information there. I mean, like, it is one of the best ways to communicate, I think, that we often overlook because it's like poop. But I Seize It, use it.

Kyle Roed:

This is the rebel HR podcast. If you're a professional looking for innovative, thought provoking information in the world of Human Resources. This is the right podcast for you. Rebel HR listeners, I'm extremely excited for our guest today. Her name is Kate, bishop. Kate is an employment attorney, a speaker and an HR consultant. She has an energy and enthusiasm about HR. And she just wants to make companies better and not just compliance. Welcome to the show. Kate,

Kate Bischoff:

thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. We're excited to have you you've got some great content out there. We were talking earlier before I hit record, I love lawyers, they they make my job so much easier. And I think many HR professionals probably agree with that. So why don't we start off what prompted your love for human resources and employment law.

Kate Bischoff:

I like every HR person I know or most of them, I know I kind of fell into it. In that I went to law school, hoping to represent teachers and students against school districts for freedom of speech issues, because in your neck of the woods, and one of my favorite people on the planet is Mary Beth Tinker. And she had protested the Vietnam War as a middle schooler, I want to say, and her case got all the way to the US Supreme Court where the Supreme Court held that students have a First Amendment rights to express themselves in schools. And so that's what I wanted to do, I wanted to represent the very best thinkers of the world. And I found out there's no money in that. And I have to feed my family and I have to keep a house over their heads or a roof over their heads, I should say. So I got a job working as a law clerk for a plaintiff's law firm. And in the very first week, I was holding the hand of a sexual harassment victim at trial. And I fell madly in love with it. Because it was helping people make workplaces better. I felt like I was doing the right thing. Like sometimes it just clicks, that you're doing the right thing. And that all just kind of clicked. So I did plaintiffs work for a while. And then my father, who was a small business owner wanted some return on his investment. And so I went to work for one of the largest labor and employment firms in the country, before taking the next big step into human resources, which was to join the Foreign Service and become an HR officer for Consulate General Jerusalem, and then US Embassy Zambia, before returning home. So I really got to see all of what HR does in those roles overseas with challenges that we don't normally get to see as human resources. For example, in Zambia, the life expectancy was 43 when I was there, so in the 15 months, I was stationed there, I lost 15 employees to HIV AIDS or car accidents. And for Americans that was really hard because that's not normal. Like it's not normal to have that kind of death surrounding a workplace. But for Gambians, it was normal that that had become their normal since they since aids really took off. And so our goal as an embassy was to reduce the incidence of AIDS help improve life expectancy. And then my job is in human resources was to work on succession planning and cross training. Because if you get sick, in Zambia, particularly with AIDS, you get sick on Monday, and you may have passed by Friday. So it's not like we're keeping jobs open with leaves, it was making sure we can still operationally do what our goal was, which is to represent the US to the Zambian people, and hopefully make their lives better. So Wow. I

Kyle Roed:

mean, what a what a difference from, you know, our typical normal

Kate Bischoff:

Yeah, I'm really not normal in any way, shape, or form, how?

Kyle Roed:

Well you are an employment attorney. So I think it's that's that's so interesting. I can't I've got to believe that that was just one of those life changing experiences that just completely reshaped your view of the world.

Kate Bischoff:

Oh, for sure. I look at my time in the Foreign Service both with heartache because I know Part of it, but also as a gave me a perspective on people in general, in how to handle conflict, because in Jerusalem, the Middle East conflict affects every decision you make as a human resources professional, whether it's am I going to use Arabic as a primary language, am I going to use Hebrew as a primary language for this position, all of that stuff gets wrapped in. And so once you're seeked, in conflict like that, I think you develop some pathways of how to handle it. And that has given me some really great tools for being a lawyer, because a lot of what we do as lawyers is handled conflict. And while I'm not in the courtroom anymore, because I choose not to be a litigator, but I am still managing conflict for my clients and helping them figure out what the best strategy is to reduce conflict, and from an employee relations standpoint, and then also, you know, make things suitably uncomfortable so that we can move forward as an organization.

Kyle Roed:

Absolutely. So, did you find that conflict was something that you naturally could handle? Well, or did you develop coping, coping mechanisms as you were, as you're going through some of these experiences?

Kate Bischoff:

My father would say that I am naturally inclined to conflict that I, I would say, probably not, I mean, I do live in the Midwest, and we hate conflict in general, right, we're just passive aggressive about it. But I will say that I'm not afraid of conflict anymore, as I was probably before, now I see it as we have this dissonance, that we can smooth out in a lot of ways, as long as we agree on a same kind of common ground of values that we these are the values that we share. So we can kind of overcome any conflict, because we believe in the same things. So for a lot of my clients, whether it's doing training on respectful workplace, or it's doing an investigation, it is getting down to what do we all believe, so that we can see the truth in something, or we can get over this area of conflict?

Kyle Roed:

So I'm curious. And then now I see that your current role is an attorney and HR consultant at thrive law in consulting. So what made you take this step into more of a consultative role? And is that your private practice?

Kate Bischoff:

It is it is my paradox, it's just me, I am at my dining room table currently. And that's where I spend most of my time. It was twofold. One, I was at a firm that had not had a traditional employment practice before. And so when I wanted to do things that were not necessarily the norm, straight billable hour stuff, I was constantly asking for permission to do XYZ, things that were out of the norm, like going to speak at a conference or doing a compliance review with no cost to the client or doing things that are were unusual for this particular law firm. And that was getting to be frustrating that I was constantly asking for permission for things, the great firm, just that part of it got frustrating. The second part of it was my kids there, my ex husband was about to have twin children. And my kids were still kind of in this place where they needed a parent to be with them more often. And I looked at them, and when I needed to be around you a lot more than I am right now working, you know, seven to five, I need to be around a lot more. And I went, how can I figure out a way to be more flexible, so for them, but also be able to do the kind of work that I want to do. And so going out on my own was really the best option. And I don't regret this decision for a second. It's been almost four and a half years. And I live in a house. It's warm in here, even though it's really cold outside, they're fed, you know, they have most of their needs met. So I'm calling this success at this point in time.

Kyle Roed:

That's awesome. Thank you. Yeah, I

Molly Burdess:

love the name of your business thrive with capital HR.

Kate Bischoff:

Hey,

Molly Burdess:

do you primarily work with small business? Do you work with large business? Are you all over the place where you at?

Kate Bischoff:

Well, I try to avoid working with large business. I know that sounds crazy because that's where the big money is. But when I'm working particularly with a general counsel who does not have an employment background, I'm spending so much more time educating them on what the status of employment law is. And if you've met a general counsel who likes to learn from other lawyers, please introduce that person to me, because I'm not sure they exist. And so I feel like I can make a bigger impact at the small and medium sized business. And I'm and I need the medium sized business at 3000 employees or less. So most of the time I'm, I can provide that on the spot, kind of, oh, shit cake, can I fire this guy question to, you know, reshaping how we do recruiting so that we build a better funnel of talent that includes are the folks in our communities that we are representative. So all of those issues, I think I can handle better at the small and medium sized business as well as making an actual impact on my community?

Molly Burdess:

Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that I often hear people say, and it kind of amazes me, but I'm just curious about your perspective. And if you see this, but I feel like there's some HR people that believes that they are there they exist to represent and protect employees, period. And then there's some HR people that believe they are there, and they exist to protect business period. Do you see that? Or what's your thoughts on that?

Kate Bischoff:

I think the answer is yes, you have to do both, though. So you have to straddle that fence and maybe get that fence pole all the way up your butt. But that is really where we sit, we are the face of management to employees, and we are the face of employees to management. And so we have because we have to straddle it, it makes it really difficult to have super good friends at work. Because you know, if you have to discipline your friend, that's hard. If you have to fire your friend, that's hard, whether that is management or not. But because we have these two faces, we have to be super strong and what we believe in is the right thing. And then when necessary, but have a titanium spine when our organization or employees are doing something that we don't think is the right thing to do. So I am part of the to face, whether it's from Batman Dhanraj or not. But that's kind of where I fall, we have to do both. I love it deep

Kyle Roed:

cut that Batman reference. DC fan, I'm much more Marvel. Marvel all the way. But

Molly Burdess:

yeah, for sure.

Kyle Roed:

We could talk about that for another three hours. That's probably not on topic. Sorry, Molly.

Molly Burdess:

No, that's okay. No, I would agree I am I vote very strongly believe that that we are both and I have found that the only way you can do that in HR is to build the relationships with people at all levels. So that way you can you can gain their trust and maintain their trust. So for me, that's what I have found to be key in that both position.

Kate Bischoff:

I 100% agree with you, Molly. And for a lot of my clients, they have worked really hard to build that credibility with folks. And then they bring me in when they can't use that credibility. So for example, if, for example, my my clients has a CFO who might be sexually harassing someone. And so while she knows she could do the investigation, she doesn't want to be put in a spot where she's recommending his term, because then she's using all of the credibility she has gained in that role, and advocating to terminate her peer, which doesn't feel good, and there'll be blowback on her if she's the one who makes that recommendation. So she brings me in to do the investigation so that I can use my credibility because I've got that all those fancy letters of yes Q and all the stuff behind my name. So I'm already the scary lawyer. So they're more likely to believe me and I can use my credibility with them that comes naturally where she's had to work for it for a long time.

Patrick Moran:

How do you help an HR person or give them advice in a way where you have to let get them to understand you have to push back a little bit once in a while. In that particular situation, you have to have some backbone. A lot of times we see HR professionals, especially some of the ones that are graduating from college and want to get into HR because they like you know, butterflies and rainbows and employee. We all know the truth behind HR. It's a dirty place. Uh huh. Patrick,

Molly Burdess:

you're not your jobs. Your jobs, not all butterflies and rainbows.

Patrick Moran:

Not Not since March 6.

Kate Bischoff:

Well, this is what I would say. I am an excellent cheerleader. I don't wear the outfit, but I am an excellent cheerleader. And it is not unusual for me to put together the bullet points for my client to go talk to management with or that talk to employees with my clients have some of the biggest hearts out there. And sometimes they, they see that it's wrong, they just don't know what to do next. And so then I am their sounding board, and I provide them that script of what they need to say next. And it's not always the legal reason as to why they should do XYZ. Sometimes it is the legal reason mixed with the public relations issue or the employee relations issue on top of it. So for example, I have a client who a couple years ago was about to implement new drug testing protocol. And they were debating back and forth, you know, were they gonna do the five panel or the under the 10 panel. And she didn't want to test for weed. Because she knew she had a bunch of employees who did weed regularly, it didn't affect their jobs at all. But she was afraid that if she put this into place that she was going to lose a bunch of employees. Well, she got overwritten, they were gonna do the full panel with the with me, that was one of those things. And the first time one of these employees got pulled up in a random, she's like, Oh, this is gonna be so bad. And he tested positive. And when they she went to management and said, Hey, he tested positive, what do you want to do? theirs? Their response was, we're going to let him go. So then she came to me. And she's like, Well, what do I do here? And I said, Well, if we let him go, what are the other relationships in the organization that he could affect? That could also leave? Could he got your entire IT department? And is that something you want to do? Is this a position that you absolutely need to be drug testing for? Do you have a legal obligation to be drug testing these folks? So it came down to what is best for the organization. And I gave her those talking points to effectuate what she wanted to happen, which was to put in some parameters of Hey, I don't care necessarily what you do, and you're off time, but if it ever affects the workplace, you're gone. And yes, you got called up in this random, but I'm afraid that if you were high at work, ever, you're going to be let go immediately because of this positive test. So it was kind of, you know, giving her the right information, giving her the pep talk that she can do it. And that with that equipment and those tools, she was able to get the result she wanted?

Molly Burdess:

Well, I just say I had an issue one time, Oh, my gosh, one of our best employees, we did random drug tests as well. He was called he had come to me before we got the results and said, Hey, I want to do the right thing. This is gonna come back positive. He was trying to do the right thing. Well, past results, and it was negative. Oh, that one that one at my home. He's trying to do the right thing. Definitely called my attorney on that on that one. But that that was a struggle for me. Yeah.

Kate Bischoff:

Yeah, I can imagine. I mean, I like that, you know, the honesty upfront, I appreciate. But yes, I met them in real life, you would know that if I did marijuana, it's gonna stay in my system the whole time. So it'll be there forever.

Molly Burdess:

I've learned that now when somebody walks in my office after that, I don't want to hear I don't want to know, let's just wait for the results.

Kate Bischoff:

Yeah, yep.

Patrick Moran:

We'll talk again, that it almost seems like people forget or when you work in HR, that there's a perception thing as well, how how employees, General employees view you and view the department how you're handling situations. So maybe, for those of you younger HR professionals out there, if you may be hesitant to push back or make a decision. And that's your own personal inner battle you're dealing with, you got to remember, it's not just you or the department, you're looking out for the workplace. It's a perception that you're giving to your employees as well and it creates common practice in how you're impacting the organization. So that's just something to think about.

Kate Bischoff:

Absolutely. I when I do respectful workplace trading, there's one example that I require all of my clients to do, which is these two people they finish a project they go to happy hour to celebrate Petco, we should go to happier they go to happier celebrate, they start following each other on social media as she posts some risque photos of herself and tags him in them. coworker sees it because it's on social media and brings it to me in human resources. And in the example I you know, I have two volunteers one, place her one place him And when I, when I and I play traditional HR, like the stereotypical HR lady, I've got two cats, a lot of coach bags, and I live by myself, right? The the stereotypical HR person. And so when I asked the one of the characters to come to my office, I asked the crowd, what is their body doing right now? And they're like, Oh, we probably sweat and probably a little incontinence, right? Because they're going to HR, and we fire people. And we like it. That's our reputation. And Wow, so many of us are out there working so hard against that reputation. We have to also embrace it and understand that that's how people respond to us. When we call them into our office, or we, we stop by their desk there initially, that anxiety happens in them. And we have to know that and work really hard against it, so that people feel more comfortable coming to talk to us.

Molly Burdess:

Yeah, absolutely. So obviously, a lot has gone on in the last year between this pandemic and politics, I'm assuming that your business has just skyrocketed. Am I correct?

Kate Bischoff:

I've been busy. Yes.

Molly Burdess:

Yeah, you've probably been very busy. I'm curious. A lot developed. But I'm curious. One of the recent employment law develops developments that have made you go Hmm.

Kate Bischoff:

Well, that's a really, that's a really good question. Um, so I have my own podcast and my podcast partner mark, and I prognosticate about what's going to happen in a bidet administration. And I got a like one or two things wrong about a Trump administration, but I was generally pretty right, or at least where things were going, and the Biden ministration. I think I'm pretty close to being right. I think though, thing that is going to be or is going to have the biggest impact on HR is a robust National Labor Relations Board. We have a new acting General Counsel right now, who has withdrawn a bunch of things that happened in during the Trump administration NLRB. And I think we're going to see some just warm cuddles for the labor industry. And we're going to see unions try to come back with a vengeance, I think. And that's going to be a challenge for a lot of employers, particularly employers who still use command and control as their management style. I think that one has been completely been obliterated in 2020. And if it had wasn't already, and building those relationships, as you mentioned, Molly, of having, you know, trust your folks, give them the freedom to do their thing. I think for those organizations who've been able to embrace that kind of culture and management style, they might be more immune to unionize and activity, but in the most anti union state in the most anti union employer, we're seeing a union campaign right now. And I think we're going to see that happen more and more over the next four years.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, that's interesting. And Patrick and I both work in manufacturing. Molly has worked in manufacturing. I know that's, that's one of those areas. That is it really hasn't been top of mind. With the recent administration, it'll be interesting to see if the the opportunity for unionization continues to shift. You know, and we've seen a little bit in our local area, maybe not necessarily full on drives, but certainly some some noise in that aspect of, of some of the areas. And I think some of it, too. I'm curious on your perspective here. Some of it too, I think comes from social unrest and people feeling that, you know, wages aren't fair. And, and there continues to be, you know, economic challenges. And not just economic challenges, but a huge difference between people at the top of the economic ladder and the people at the bottom. So, so do you think that's also going to trickle into some of the some of the things we see in the regulatory world?

Kate Bischoff:

I think you're 100% right there. Um, you know, I, I can't quote it 100% correctly. But I think if you looked at the 19, late 1960s, early 1970s, the percentage difference between what the CEO made and what the line level worker made was, like maybe 200%. It's now like 2000 or 200,000%. And that disparity makes a really good argument for a union to come in and say I'm going to waste your ages because this guy makes way too much money. And so I think the opportunity is there because of the social inequities we have in general. And my, I think, part of my favorite realization that corporations have taken, particularly in the last year, is the role they play in our communities on a larger scale, that they can have an impact on things like social inequity, like racism. And while they should have known that they had that role for a long time, I think many of them are taking a bigger step into that realm for the betterment of their communities. And I think part of that is going to be if you're not doing that, if you're not seeing the social corporate responsibility that you should, someone is going to make that decision for you, whether it is your customers, or whether it is your employees are going to make that decision in the form of a union is that unionizing drive? So I think there's a there are, there's definitely room for that. And I think it's going to happen.

Kyle Roed:

Molly Patrick, what do you think about unions? I mean, I,

Molly Burdess:

I think I have a place here. Sure, I think they've done a lot of good. It kind of depends on what perspective I'm looking at, I would agree with kind of what Kate said is if if management is working hard to create that culture where a union isn't needed, I think that would be ideal. With that being said, you know, when I came into HR, I was very naive to the fact that employers and business leaders, we're all doing common sense, things that are just right in nature. And unfortunately, as I've, as I've, you know, been more tenured in my career, I have seen things that people have done that just doesn't align with some of that. So I also understand where and how they come about and where their places.

Kate Bischoff:

I agree with you, I come from an industry that has had huge amount of animus towards unions as a whole. And I believe that in those in those particular employers, the employers are doing the right thing. It's how the union union is trying to articulate it isn't the best way. But we have more holidays, we have PTO, we have leaves. And that has grown out of unions in a large way. And to the extent that we need to continue to build on that we should, I think we should do it more from a policy perspective rather than a unionizing perspective. But whatever gets us to a place where we can see the humanity and each other and be better for our communities. I want that. Completely agree.

Kyle Roed:

I love that perspective. You know, I think it's, it's just, it's interesting for me to think about the progress that's been made because of the disruption that's been created through social unrest and social movements and things that that were very uncomfortable at the time for people in business and people in power to to wrestle with, but in the in the rearview mirror, I think we would all agree, Wow, those things were really, really necessary as uncomfortable as they were. And so I wrestled with that fact a little bit. Because, you know, I personally, I want to build a workplace that people don't feel like they need a union, to be heard, and to be seen as worthy, and and be treated fairly. And and all those things, you know, my passion is, I want people to feel that they don't need somebody representing them. So yeah, I don't know. It's, it's an interesting, it's, it's a, it's an equation that I'm, I tend to go one way or another.

Patrick Moran:

That's why I got into reason, but that's one of the many reasons I I gravitated towards HR when I left my last organization. Because my staff and corporate dining, they were actually a union staff. I had seven or eight cafes throughout multi site facilities here in Cedar Valley, and I won't name the business we were in, but yes. And it was four different union contracts. So I felt like every year I was having some sort of union negotiation, I couldn't reward my employees or promote them without red tape, or even do it at all. According to some contracts. The contracts weren't aligned. I felt like I didn't have any control to create an impactful workplace environment because everything had to go through the union. And that is one of the reasons that I started looking to get away from that. type of industry and just, you know, General, you know, management, I guess, to focus into a particular profession. And now in an environment where we don't have unions, and I do have control and my voice does matter to our leaders, I think you can see the impact within our organization, our culture throughout the country. And not that I'm completely against unions. I'm, I'm open to the conversation. But back in that day, I just didn't feel like I had any control to just support the workplace.

Kate Bischoff:

Yeah, I mean, I think we've all worked in a place where the person sitting next to us, or working next to us wasn't toeing the line wasn't doing what they needed to be doing. And we grew resentment toward that individual person. Well, when management can't do anything about it, because there's a union involved, that just creates an ongoing cycle of toxicity. So it's, if you're going into a union setting, as as an HR professional, your first job is to build credibility with that union steward, so that when you need to do something about it, that union steward is going to go Oh, well, you know, cases are usually weird or off the wall butter stuff. So that we can, even in a union environment set the standard that these are the expectations, we're going to hold you to those expectations. And we're going to hold each other to those expectations. So I think that is a tough balancing act, particularly for HR folks who come from command and control kind of places.

Molly Burdess:

Yep, I agree along these lines, same with kind of unionization. And then also politics and you know, people taking it people taking change into their own hands. I think a hot topic, we get a lot, and we see HR individuals. Question is, and employees for that matter what employee speech is protected in the workplace? And how can HR leaders manage that?

Kate Bischoff:

Oh, my gosh, Molly, I have just gotten out my super large soapbox, are you ready? I'm getting off of it. Now. There is no such thing as freedom of speech in the workplace. Unless you're a government employee, there's no such thing. I when I get on my soapbox, and I start spouting out the my truths that I am superior to all other people, including black and brown people, I should get fired for that. And I should get fired for that immediately. If I get on my soapbox, and I talk about how women are should be barefoot and pregnant in the workplace, in the kitchen, and not in the workplace, I should get fired for that. Employers have an obligation to keep their workplaces free of harassment. And that may mean that there are folks who have taken quote, unquote, political positions need to go because of those harassment pieces that they make. Particularly in the last four years, I think employers have learned the lesson that this idea that diversity of thought is the best thing ever. And that's where we should rest our diversity efforts on. Well, if somebody's different thoughts are based upon people not being equal, or some people are not are subhuman that they are, then you get to get rid of them. And you should, because otherwise, you're just inviting legal issues and PR issues and recruitment and retention issues that are going to play you forever. And that comes down to this idea of differing values that if we all have the same values in our workplace, we can come we can overcome that conflict. But if our values are not aligned, I don't need you to be in my workplace. And I shouldn't have you in my workplace in a lot of ways. The politics of it has been that, you know, I should have Republicans and Democrats working for him. Absolutely. you absolutely should. There are some states where making decisions based upon political views would be prohibited California. But if that is a different alignment of that we all deserve to be given a chance at work, then I'm out here. The only kind of real speech that is protected in a workplace is whether or not that it's called concerted protected activity. And it means that we're employees are binding together to try to improve the workplace for themselves are complaining about terms and conditions of employment. If two employees are talking about how their manager Joe is just such a dick well That's considered a protected activity. It's not considered a protected activity if we don't like him because he's black. So there is a difference. The nlra has a little carve out. But I, it boils my hide when people tell me that their First Amendment protections at work, because I'm like, not in my workplace like, not here. So I love it when they try to make that argument. But like, Congress shall make no law. That is the language of the First Amendment. It's not my employer has to listen to me all the time. Mm hmm. That's not the rule.

Patrick Moran:

So what are you getting licensed?

Kate Bischoff:

So I'll answer Molly's questions for Patrick Sorry, I'm black lives matter was determined by the Trump administration to not be a political speech. So that is not a political movement. Even the Trump administration said that. So when people want to wear black lives matter stuff at work, that's not political speech. It's it is I'm hoping that your organization believes that everyone is equal and that all people have an opportunity at your workplace. So black lives do matter. So if that's not necessarily something you can let them go for. But this idea that to weaponize Black Lives Matter into this abhorrence political speech, I think, is something we're going to have to come to terms with because black lives do matter.

Patrick Moran:

I have a question, what controversies are you dealing with around the hot topic right now a hot topic, one of the COVID Vax COVID.

Kate Bischoff:

Like, we have crisis upon crises over here, right? Pacific COVID. About

Patrick Moran:

employers able to offer it.

Kate Bischoff:

So remember, when I said that I want corporations to understand they have a role in our big or bigger community to do the right thing. My clients are more likely to mandate vaccines for that very reason, then they're likely to just encourage it. And there, and I mean, mandate, with the obvious exceptions of religion and disability, if I can't take it, because of my medical condition, my clients are not going to penalize you for that. But they're going to take the stance of we need to take this because it's better for our community if we take this. So that's, that's where our starting point is going to be. It as there, there are some quirky legal perspectives here, particularly around the idea of wellness incentives, because, arguably, vaccines are a wellness initiative. And I mean, if if we put in the before time, so we had a flu shot clinic that was seen as we want to keep you well, right. So COVID vaccine kind of falls into that wellness perspective as well. There have been some new ish kind of legal perspective on what an employer can do to incentivize wellness, that 30 you can't give more than 30% of the cost, because then it's not volunteering anymore. I think the EEOC is going to relax those a bit for vaccinations because they understand the importance of it. I mean, if the EEOC can relax the rules around asking if you are currently sick, in a job interview, they're going to relax the room the way we're gonna get out of this pandemic, too. So that's my prediction. I know it's a hot topic. But I want everybody who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated because then I can go see a James Bond movie in the theater. Because I've been waiting for that thing for four years now. And my patience is added then.

Patrick Moran:

You're you're speaking my language. I wanted to know, new Top Gun and it didn't come. That just ticked me off.

Kate Bischoff:

Yep, yep.

Molly Burdess:

That really surprises me.

Kyle Roed:

Top Gun, Patrick. I'm gonna get you some aviators for the next show.

Kate Bischoff:

For the Biden ministration period, so yes, yeah.

Molly Burdess:

Yeah, that surprises me because everything I'm seeing and hearing is kind of the opposite as far as encouraging it but not necessarily mandate it. And I am particularly surprised that there's a lot of nursing facilities and hospitals and medical organizations who are not requiring these and that's really surprising to me.

Kate Bischoff:

It is really surprising and it breaks my heart. A little bit. I mean, I understand their argument that the vaccines came out too fast. And we haven't done enough testing. We don't know what the long term effects are. But we also don't know the long term effects of COVID, either. And you know what I like living. I'm a big fan of that. And I would like my family to continue living, I would like my communities continue to live. And when I look at our neighbor over there, either of the Dakotas and knowing that they've killed one in 500, people with COVID, and like, that is not a reality, I want to be in, I know more than 500 people in the Twin Cities, and I don't want them to die. So I, it, I think we're going to see such a vigorous rollout of it, that hopefully, by the summer, most of us who wanted it will get vaccinated, and then it's going to be up to the social pressures to get the rest of us. And for some communities, clergy, it's going to be really important to get us there. And others, our biggest influencer is our employer. And so I think employers have a role in making sure that it can get out to people. And if that is just setting up a clinic in our lobby, so people can come get vaccinated, that makes it easier for people. And that can be the encouragement, because, you know, unless the flu shot was offered, I might not go get it on my own. But if it was just right there, then maybe I do. Absolutely. And just you know, maybe

Kyle Roed:

a call to action, any HR professional Listen to this. You know, every jurisdiction is drastically different. In my company, I've got a few jurisdictions where I can actually apply as an employer to get on the list, and get my employees on the list because we're an essential employer. And so my advice would be goat, take a look at your local health department, see what the rules are. See, if you can get on the list, you know, start to start to figure out how do I do this, like a flu clinic. You know, even if you're not mandating, there are ways to increase access to folks. And I'm with UK like, I like to I like to be alive as well. And I like to do. Don't involve sitting at home. Watching my three kids scream at me about which Netflix movie they want to watch. So yeah, let's go watch James Bond. Let's go do Top Gun, get a shot in your arm people.

Patrick Moran:

When you talk about Yeah, you know, education. I think the hard thing that that our employees here is only what they see on the media. I think we need to take that education back. As HR department. We try to educate to the science of the vaccines, a lot of times we'll hear employees say, well, they're only 90 or 95% effective, depending on which one? Well, that's our responsibility to say back to our employees. Well, you know, what? The flu vaccine each year generally is about 30% efficacy rate. So you get your flu every year. This is you know, I understand the vaccines are new, but somethings better than nothing. Okay.

Kate Bischoff:

Yeah. And I'm telling HR people embrace the bathroom stall, like take that captive audience that you have, because they're sitting there pooping, and put the information there. I mean, like, it is one of the best ways to communicate, I think, that we often overlook because it's like, poop, but I use it, use it.

Kyle Roed:

It's a good picture. Okay.

Molly Burdess:

See how effective those bathroom posters are.

Kyle Roed:

We just found I just found the title and the snippet for this part. Last few seconds.

Kate Bischoff:

Happy to help in any way.

Kyle Roed:

Oh, my gosh, Kate, I sincerely appreciate this conversation. We could keep talking for hours. But at that point, I think you probably have to start charging us an hourly rate. So I would like to kick off the rebel HR flash round.

Kate Bischoff:

Okay, hit me.

Kyle Roed:

All right, brace yourself. Here we go. Question number one. What are you reading right now?

Kate Bischoff:

I am reading think again by Adam Grant. Because I am fascinated with how we can change hearts and minds to make the world a better place.

Kyle Roed:

I love Adam Grant. If anybody doesn't follow Adam Grant on that's listening to this. First of all, I'll be surprised but he's, he's awesome. Yeah, I'm with you on that.

Kate Bischoff:

Yeah, I'm over over. I'm willing to overlook his his work in Silicon Valley, but I think it is, is really important. So

Kyle Roed:

absolutely. Alright, question number two, Who should we be listening to?

Kate Bischoff:

Well, I could be real selfish and say the hostile work environment podcast with me and mark. The other thing I think we should be listening to is you should change the channel.

Kyle Roed:

No, I love that. I mean, and I, I just thought it was an infographic and it showed like, It ranked different news organizations on the scale of Truth and left leaning versus right, right leaning. Let's see if I can find a link to it, put it in the show notes. But, you know, it's pretty eye opening to realize, wow, I thought I was getting unbiased news. And I was getting left leaning, you know, partial truths, like opinions.

Kate Bischoff:

And just a second. I mean, I, I think Nicole Wallace, who is a former press secretary for George, George W. Bush. So she has been republican for a lot of her career on MSNBC, I really enjoy her. So I feel like I'm a little bit more balanced, then probably on that scale. But you know, turning to CNN, turning to ABC nightly news every once in a while, really does help, I think, try to get a broader perspective. So

Kyle Roed:

I love that that's, that's a great answer. All right, last question. How can our listeners connect with you? Whoo,

Kate Bischoff:

easy. So I am addicted to Twitter. So Twitter is where you can find me the most often whether it is pictures of my cat head buddy me because she's in a cone, or whether it is my hot takes on whether to evaluate. Someone's sincerely held beliefs for religious accommodation. You can find that on Twitter, I'm at K eight bi sth. Or you can also find me on LinkedIn where sometimes I go into a little bit longer diatribes, but those are the two main places you can find me.

Kyle Roed:

Sounds great. We'll have all that in the show notes. Kate, thank you so much again for for the time and the and the wonderful conversation and and approaching life with a humor and a passion. I think that if you are going to survive in HR, you got to have a little bit of both, and sometimes humorous. Be a little twisted.

Kate Bischoff:

Yes. Embrace the job, people.

Kyle Roed:

Embrace the poop jokes. Thanks again, Molly. And Patrick. As always, thanks for joining us and everybody have a great rest your day.

Kate Bischoff:

Thank you.

Kyle Roed:

All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. Use it opinions expressed by podcast necessarily.

Jude Roed:

Maybe