Remember the Garbage Pail Kids from the ’80s? I have had an inspiration that will make my fortune! I’m going to create a set of collectible “HR Horribles”™ trading cards, representing the employees who make Human Resources professionals’ lives a living heck.

Here is my first set:

Randy Romeo. Romeo has never met a woman he didn’t like, especially if she reports to him, because that makes it easier for him to pressure her into situations that she shouldn’t be in, if you catch my drift. LOVES: Back rubs (to women while they’re trying to work), calling women “Dear,” one-on-one margaritas after work, rooms in tawdry motels that charge by the hour, and long walks on the beach. HATES: Prudes, “wet blankets,” other guys, harassment training, HR.

Disgruntled Dora. Dora has worked for the company for 20 years, and she’s hated every minute of it. Her co-workers are all idiots (and don’t even get her started on her boss), her pay is downright insulting when you really think about it, and her benefits are a disgrace. LOVES: To complain. HATES: Good cheer, co-workers, supervisors, her employer, the idea of taking the initiative to find a better job.

Prankster Pauly. Pauly is a real card. The day he poured blackstrap molasses down Jake’s toolbox will go down in company history. You should have seen Jake trying to unstick his screwdriver when he needed to repair a machine that was down. Comedy gold! Sure, the boss was mad because Jake (really, Pauly) put the department behind on production and everybody had to come in on the weekend to make it up, but it was worth it. Plus, we got overtime. And then there was that time that Pauly went into the women’s restroom and locked all the stalls from the inside. Supposedly, one of the ladies in the plant actually had an “accident.” LOVES: A good joke, being the center of attention. HATES: Sticks in the mud, humorless people, Safety Department, HR.

Traditional Todd. Todd has traditional values, and he wants you to have them, too. He tells his female co-workers that a woman’s place is in the home, and that a woman should not be in authority over a man. He also favors traditional marriage and shares that belief with his LGBT co-workers, whether they like it or not. LOVES: “Adam and Steve” bumper stickers, women who know their place, male breadwinners. HATES: Female breadwinners, child care centers, two-income families, single parents.

Snowflake Sally. Sally is so sensitive that she thinks being a Republican is a “microaggression.” LOVES: Inclusion (as long as it’s the right kind), safe spaces. HATES: Mother-in-law jokes, jokes about differences between men and women, Republicans, expressions of Christian or Jewish faith, polite gestures from men, the First Amendment, honest and frank discussion of ideas.

 “Professional” Preston. Preston is a non-exempt employee who considers himself a “professional.” He gives his all, all the time. He doesn’t waste a minute of the day: He handles work-related calls on his daily commutes. He keeps his cell phone with him at all times and does work-related emails (sends, receives, replies) no matter what the hour. He doesn’t put any of this on his time sheet because he’s a “professional” who is glad to do the little extras that give him pride in his work and make his job so wonderful. LOVES: Off-clock work, his job, his employer. HATES: Accurately recording his actual time worked, the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Racist Rudolph. Rudolph seems to be caught in a time warp. He can’t resist a good joke about “dumb” people from a certain country in Central Europe that starts with a “P.” He lectures his co-workers on his theory that people of other races or ethnic groups are where they are today only because of affirmative action. LOVES: WASPs, ethnic humor, racial humor, feeling superior to people of other ethnic and racial backgrounds. HATES: Affirmative action, humorless people, “political correctness,” diversity training, harassment training, HR.

Off-Color Ophelia. Ophelia knows sexual harassment is bad, but she thinks it’s a problem for men only. If she wants to talk about Fifty Shades Darker at the office, or make bawdy jokes, or announce to her co-workers what method of birth control she is using, then that’s fine because she’s a woman. Who ever heard of a man being sexually harassed by a woman? That’s a contradiction in terms! Nothing embarrasses a man. LOVES: Dirty books, dirty movies, dirty jokes, making grown men blush. HATES: Bluenoses, good manners.

Pious Pius and Atheist Arlene. Pius wants all of his co-workers to come with him to church. If they tell him that they worship elsewhere or aren’t religious, then he tries to convert them. LOVES: His church. HATES: Well, of course he doesn’t hate anybody, but he prays for anyone who doesn’t go to his church. Arlene, on the other hand, is offended by any expression of religious belief, and she goes out of her way to “dis” her co-workers’ beliefs. LOVES: Disrespecting and making fun of religion. HATES: Religion.

That’s my first batch. Suggestions for more are welcome, and I’d especially love to hear from Human Resources professionals and employment lawyers. Maybe I can have some cards printed up in time for the next SHRM conference!   🙂

DISCLAIMER: Any resemblance to actual employees, living or deceased, is purely coincidental.

Robin Shea is a Partner with the law firm of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP and has more than 20 years’ experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act), the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act; and class and collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage-hour laws; defense of audits by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; and labor relations. She conducts training for human resources professionals, management, and employees on a wide variety of topics.



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