POEM’s R&D Review: Thumbnail Sketch

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This article was prepared for the October 24, 2001

edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Managing Employees & Preventing Lawsuits

Recording an employee’s missteps — and his good

work too — is so time consuming that many supervisors, struggling

to bring projects in on time, often just don’t bother. It can be a

nuisance to take detailed notes on complaints against the employee

who thinks it’s funny to harass women or on the employee who

consistently

outperforms everyone in the department. But the effort pales beside

the alternative.

"You’ve got to do it," says Kathy Raykovich, a senior

human resources analyst with the New Jersey Department of Labor.

"It

overrules excuses." The reason? "These days anyone can sue

for any reason."

Raykovich, who studied Spanish, education, and theater at Rowan back

when it was Glassboro State, has been educating employers for the

labor department’s division of business services for 25 years. She

speaks on "Document! Document! Document!" on Tuesday, October

30, at 9 a.m. at a meeting sponsored by the labor department and the

Employers Association of New Jersey at the Department of Labor

Building

in Trenton. Cost: $10. Call 609-984-3518.

Among the excuses Raykovich hears with some regularity are "no

time," "no space," and "someone will see it."

She gives advice on overcoming all three.

Established procedures cut recordkeeping time. Where an

employer has policy manuals, detailed job descriptions, time cards,

and well-designed appraisal forms, documenting employee performance

becomes largely routine. A good infrastructure for recording each

employee’s contribution — or lack of same — means less time

spent creating paper trails on a case-by-case basis.

Storing employee records takes some thought. "Some

people think everything on an employee should be in the same

file,"

says Raykovich. This common mistake can lead to big problems. She

says a government office, maybe Immigration or the I.R.S., which wants

one form on an employee, will not dig out that piece of paper, but

rather will take the whole file. The employer is left with nothing

on that person.

Keeping everything in one place can also be a problem if an employee

wants to see his file. By law, Raykovich says, the employee does not

have an automatic right to see it, but denying him access can cause

morale problems. If everything ever written about him is there, the

employee may come across negative comments by supervisors who never

meant him to see them. He might also come across incident reports

mentioning other employees.

It is worth spending some time in clearing an area, or areas, for

different types of employee records, and then establishing a set

filing

system.

Keep comments under lock and key. It is important for

supervisors to document negative performance by an employee, and it

is important that these comments be kept where no one else can see

them. Raykovich recommends a locked drawer or a password protected

computer file.

Know that written records can be subpoenaed.

Supervisors

need to be aware that anything they write down can be called as

evidence

should an employee sue. With this in mind, it is vital that all

comments

about an employee address only behavior. There is no room for

subjective

observations.

Don’t write in anger. Raykovich says it is a good idea

to record an employee’s behavior soon after an incident occurs —

but not too soon. Let any anger evaporate before picking up a pen,

she suggests.

Include lots of detail. While comments about an employee’s

attitude are probably best left out, all specifics on negative

behavior

need to be included. If the problem is absence, for instance, write

down the date, the time, the day of the week, whether the employee

called in, and even who called in for him. Make a note of whether

he submitted a doctor’s note, and if so, how long after the absence.

These facts could be used to establish a pattern or to document

violations

of company policy.

Remember the top performers. Lawsuits come not just from

disciplined employees, but also from those passed over for promotion.

Be prepared to document why Susie got the top job, or Johnny, passed

over yet again, could well take legal action. In order to prove that

Susie moved up because of her superior ability and performance, it

may be necessary to produce records of her positive efforts and

achievements.

An important overall goal in documenting employees’ actions

is establishing a reputation as a fair boss, a person who will only

discipline when it is warranted, and will promote based on merits.

Beyond raising morale and attracting superior workers, such a

reputation

could ward off lawsuits.

"The name of the game is consistency and fairness," says

Raykovich.

"If everyone knows what’s expected, people have no surprises.

There’s no reason for them to come back legally or violently."

Top Of Page
POEM’s R&D Review: Thumbnail Sketch

Seven Princeton area companies will discuss their

technology

with their academic counterparts when the Princeton University’s

Center

for Photonic and Optoelectronic Materials (POEM) holds its annual

review of research activities on Thursday, November 1, starting at

8:30 a.m. in the Computer Sciences building (www.poem.princeton.edu).

Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, a member of the House

Armed Services Committee, will give the keynote talk, "Global

Challenges and the Role of Technology in Securing Our Future."

Julie Brown, vice president for research at Universal Display

Corporation (UDC), will give a plenary session address on "Organic

LEDs: Delivering on Technology Promises Today and in the Future."

James C. Sturm, director of the POEM center, leads the afternoon

plenary session, on the intersection of photonics, nanostructures,

and biology. A luncheon poster session from noon to 1:45 p.m. and

an evening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. will provide networking

opportunities.

Cost: $50. Fax to 609-258-1954 or E-mail: jmonte@princeton.edu.

Flat Panel Displays

Four sets of technical seminars have been scheduled. Flat panel

displays

and other large area electronics technologies has its own agenda,

led by Stephen R. Forrest of the electrical engineering

department

and founder of UDC, and Brown.

Universal Display Corporation Inc. (PANL), 375

Phillips Boulevard, Ewing 08618. Steven Abramson, president.

609-671-0980;

fax, 609-671-0995. Home page: www.universaldisplay.com

Photonics & Imaging

Biomolecular Photonics and Imaging is the focus of

another

series of seminars, led by Warren S. Warren of the chemistry

department

and Wlodek Mandecki of Pharmaseq. Mandecki will discuss

instrumentation

for diagnostics and assay for drug discovery, particularly

light-powered

nano transponders for genomic analysis. Frederic Zenhausern of

Motorola

will talk about nanostructures and near-field biological imaging.

PharmaSeq Inc., 1 Deer Park Drive, Princeton

Corporate

Plaza, Suite F, Monmouth Junction 08852. Wlodek Mandecki, president

and CEO. 732-355-0100; fax, 732-355-0102. Home page:

www.pharmaseq.com

Optical Processing

Ultrafast optics, switching, and integration

technologies

will be the province of Evguenyi Narimanov of the electrical

engineering

department and Chris Dries of Sensors Unlimited.

Thomas Curtis of UltraFast Optical Systems and Paul Prucnal of the

EE department will discuss the use of non-linear interferometers for

ultra-fast optical processing. Milind Gokhale of ASIP joins Forrest

to discuss high bandwidth metro and long haul communication systems.

Chuni Ghosh of Princeton Optronics will discuss tunable lasers —

VCSELs — for long Haul and switching applications.

Sensors Unlimited Inc. (FNSR), 3490 Route 1,

Building

5, Princeton 08540. Gregory H. Olsen, president. 609-520-0610; fax,

609-520-0638. Home page: www.sensorsinc.com

Ultra Fast Optical Systems Inc. , 5 Canyon Run

Road, Holmdel 07733. Thomas H. Curtis, president and CEO.

732-888-6073;

fax, 609-258-2158. Home page: www.ultrafastoptical.com

ASIP Inc., 155 Pierce Street, Somerset 08873.

Milind

Gokhale, acting president. 609-537-5500; fax, 609-537-5515. Home

page: www.asipinc.com

Princeton Optronics, 1 Electronics Drive,

Mercerville

08619, Box 8627, Princeton 08540. Chuni Ghosh, CEO. 609-584-9696;

fax, 609-584-2448. Www.princetonoptronics.com

Nonlinear Processes

Quantum devices, sensing, and nonlinear processes will

occupy Richard Miles, of the mechanical and aerospace engineering

department. He joins John Lowrance of Princeton Scientific

Instruments.

Lowrance works on electro-optical R&D and manufacturing, such as sight

integration of an automatic muzzle reference system.

Princeton Scientific Instruments, 7 Deer Park

Drive,

Princeton Corporate Plaza, Suite C, Monmouth Junction 08852. John

Lowrance, president. 732-274-0774; fax, 732-274-0775.

The day after this marathon of presentations, the POEM center

will host a half-day workshop on lasers and imaging, sponsored by

the Office of Naval Research and the NJ Technical Advisory Committee.


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