Employee Survival Guide®

The Pros & Cons of Oversharing At Work

May 16, 2023 Mark Carey Season 4 Episode 11
Employee Survival Guide®
The Pros & Cons of Oversharing At Work
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the Employee Survival Guide, Mark addresses the issue of oversharing at work.  He explores the pros and cons of oversharing. Obviously, oversharing can be damaging to other employees, i.e. mental nervous conditions and coworker abuse, a sexual harassment comment or ageist comment. But oversharing can also be used as a tool to set up your employer and protect your rights, causing your employer to go on the defense, and enhancing your severance package.  In the alternative, oversharing can be used to prolong your job and prevent the employer from firing you when you overshare, i.e. complain of discrimination in a time stamped email.  Again, another tactic your employer does not want you to know about.   

Links to sources in the podcast episode:

Link to blog article on the same subject: https://capclaw.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-oversharing-personal-information-at-work/

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Hey, it's mark here and welcome to the next edition of the Employee Survival Guide where I tell you as always, what your employer does definitely not want you to know about a lot more. Hey, welcome back. It's Mark, and today's episode, we're gonna talk about the pros and cons of oversharing. At work. We all do it, and you know what I'm talking about. You cannot resist doing this at work. What is the habit I'm referring to, over sharing your personal information at work. I was recently reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about when bringing your whole self to work is too much. The article link is in your show notes. The article examines employee mental health and the sharing is caring ethos. We have all recently become accustomed to co workers over sharing personal information during the pandemic. A reminder May is Mental Health Awareness Month. But the Wall Street Journal article made me think of a larger issue and no one really talks about oversharing and why it is important to protect your job using personal boundaries, and also asserting personal information to gain illegal advantage against your employer. Whether you're talking about sports, hobbies, your weekend social activities, we all engage in sharing of information about our personal lives at work, we share to connect with colleagues and engage in self promotion. But when when does oversharing go too far? Here's the problem with over sharing. When sharing information becomes oversharing, it raises many issues that the oversharer does not contemplate when sharing. If an employee is experiencing a mental health issue, and shares at work, some co workers and supervisors do not have the background experience to handle the discussion in a respectful and objective manner. From my experience, many employees interpret a co workers bipolar anxiety or depression elaboration as a red flag resulting in pejorative name calling behind the employee's back, for example, she's crazy, etc. And co workers regarding the employee is having a mental disability. When I'm investigating a legal case for an employee, I asked what the client has heard other co workers say about them behind closed doors, or directly to their face. I'm looking for two forms of disability discrimination claims that I can use against the employer. First one is disability discrimination directed at your mental nervous condition. And the second one is regarded as disabled discrimination where coworkers perceive you as having a mental nervous condition, even though you may not have one. These are the two aspects of the Americans Disabilities Act and state law also conforms the same way there's actually a third respect and that has to do with being associated with a person who has disability. Yes, that too is also protected. You'd be surprised how often I find inflammatory comments made by co workers in particular managing supervisors. co workers can be insensitive about other employees experiencing mental health issues. Even though there has been a great deal of public support lately for mental health awareness during the pandemic. There are other problems with oversharing. Beyond the mental health issue, discussing finances marriage can put off co workers. And there's an article that I'll put in the show notes in LinkedIn it's, it's entitled How to stop over sharing with your boss a must read. Now oversharing can become illegal in some cases. In some cases, co workers and supervisors who quote overshare can violate the employment rights of other employees in the office. And I think we all know what I'm talking about. For example, openly discussing weekend sexual exploits with coworkers can infuse the work environment with sex and negatively impact other employees who just happen to overhear the conversation. Obviously, employees who behave this way did not read the company Code of Conduct policies for public companies and private ones, and the latest dei initiative. Other examples can include discussions about older workers, physical and mental characteristics and abilities. And even if benign can cause older workers in the office to feel ostracized because of their age. There are many more older employees working in the workforce today who are not retiring and cannot retire or just want to continue working in general. In any case, I ask clients about the general office banter in order to build the legal leverage for severance negotiations. You'd be surprised what you can discover if you ask the right questions. And I encourage you to change your optics when looking at your fact pattern. Because there may be information gems right in front of you, you just don't realize how to connect the dots on so you'd be surprised what I can gather the Biggest overshare I see all the time is a discussion by manager asking when my client is going to retire and what their exit strategy is. It's illegal to ask employees over the age of 40 this question because it conditions their job based upon their age. It happens so often that I asked every client who is at least 50 years old, the same question. Ironically, six out of 10 times the client responds that they were asked about their retirement plans, either from co workers or directly from their supervisors. Why is this? I will also point out that many managers will ask a co worker to dig up dirt on older employees by asking about their retirement plans. Again, this is illegal. A few years ago, the New York Times ran a story about one of our cases involving pregnancy discrimination. The article discussed the oversharing that happened to one employee quote on the company's treating men bantered about groping the Queen of England's genitals. Miss Murphy's boss guy freshwater, openly discuss how much hot ass there would be at the gym near the new office in New York City. But when Miss Murphy told Mr. Freshwater that she was pregnant with her first child, he told her that would quote definitely plateau your career. And the over the supervisors over sharing here cause the employer liability for pregnancy discrimination, of course, because the employees boss expressed his bias opinion about female employees and pregnancy. Using oversharing to your advantage, no one really discusses this topic. But I do wonder if you could use oversharing to set up your employer and build either job protections or legal case for severance negotiation purposes. This was the idea I thought about, but I read the Wall Street Journal article about oversharing at work. When I work with clients before they are placed on performance improvement plans or fired I get a unique opportunity to set up the employer for liability. First, and most important, I need to really get through this point, I have to get the employee beyond the quote fear based psychology and quote that employers worked so hard to instill in all employees. Clients often explain they cannot have, they don't have the stomach to withstand any further maltreatment by their employers, and just want it to read the writing on the verbal writing on the wall that basically saying get the blank out. So getting past the fear based aspect is the first thing and you really just need to push and shove yourself past it because it's just a fiction the employer creates to have deterrence, it's really not real. Second, once I explain the strategy to the client, they begin to self advocate directly with or his or her peers and supervisors. Specifically the client intentionally verbally, both verbally or in writing and via email, over shares personal information to co workers, managers and human resource personnel about topics such as disability medical issues FMLA leave PTSD related concerns pregnancy discrimination experience from other employees. The list goes on. If there's a verbal discussion between the client and the co worker where oversharing is occurring, the client would then document the conversation in an email, the email must summarize the same information as was said during the verbal community conversation. The idea here is to build a factual record using the timestamp of an email. So you're oversharing to protect yourself, you're literally seeding the fact pattern, deliberately provoking and baiting the employer into discussions about things that is going to benefit you. So you develop a game plan. This process intentionally, unintentionally oversharing, places the employer in a box. I like that. It's nice analogy. If the employer reacts negatively to the oversharing client, the client can assert a retaliation claim or assert other forms of harassment. As you can see, over sharing personal information can be used as a tool for the employee's legal agenda. Yes, you're entitled to have a legal agenda at work. For example, the overshare, the employee may want to overshare for purpose of requesting reasonable accommodations, reporting sexual harassment, reporting, retaliation, etc. Since employers always set up employees for performance improvement plans and terminations, why can't employees do the same thing? I actively encourage employees to aggressively quote police their employment situations and put the employer on the defensive. I've seen this process work effectively to promote employee legal claims and increase severance compensation or stay employed. I have this personal record of two plus years of keeping someone employed by making continuous internal email complaints and then later on external complaints to state and federal agencies, which kept the employee employed. She just wanted to work there, and she wanted to correct The situation with the term employment because you need an income before you go out and overshare to develop your strategy about what information you are over sharing, and to whom, and why you're doing this, think several steps ahead and see if you can position yourself with an advantage of the employer, wherein you will use the oversharing information to aid your severance negotiation or your legal case in the in the court, or against the employer in the court. So I hope you found this information provocative. Again, that's what I'm thinking about all the time. And oversharing can be used in a way that's very powerful to force your employer's hand. These are things your employer's not going to share with you. And these are things I've been sharing with you topics like this give you just insight that these are things that I actually do with clients and employers hate it. But employers reward my clients with higher severance pay. So I was over the weekend was sitting by a river behind our house with my son, we were talking and we were watching the fish, we were obviously trying to fish. But the fish weren't biting, but there was hundreds of fish schooling, you know, nice pool. So the analogy here is, it's like fishing in a bucket with your employer. oversharing can be used to bait your employer to get what you want. And I'm trying to shift that focus mindset for you that there are different tactics you can use to push your employer around. And why can't and why not. If it's if you understand the rules of engagement, which I've been trying to explain to people for, I don't know how many episodes but here you go. Another example where you can actually overshare to your advantage. So hope you found this interesting. I'll leave some links in the show notes and have a great week, talk to you soon. If you'd like the employees who have a God, I'd really encourage you to leave a review. We try really hard to produce information to you that's informative, that's timely that you can actually use and solve problems on your own and at your employment. So if you like to leave a review anywhere you listen to our podcast, please do so. And leave five stars because anything less than five is really not as good, right? I'll keep it up. I'll keep the standards up. I'll keep the information flowing out you. If you'd like to send me an email and ask me a question. I'll actually review it and post it on there. You can send it to Mcarey at capclaw.com That's capclaw.com