Saturday, January 10, 2009

the Hypersensitive Colleague

My discussion of watching the F-bomb and other questionable language reminded me that I meant to mention the hypersensitive colleague.  Do you remember in law school the case of the "eggshell plaintiff"?  (Hopefully I have remembered the reference correctly).  This person isn't necessarily the "reasonable person" standard but is overly sensitive to things others may say or do -- putting this in the workplace perspective rather than the torts perspective.

The hypersensitive colleague can cause you trouble.  How?  Well, let's say you joke around with hypersensitive colleague about [insert anything, they are very sensitive after all].  Hypersensitive colleague complains to a partner/or management.  Now, the supervisors may very well know hypersensitive colleague complains about everything; but, you might nevertheless be implicated in making a reportedly insensitive or even inappropriate comment.

You might be asking:  this is a minefield...how will I know when I am stepping on a bomb?  The problem is you won't know necessarily.  But, if you hear someone could fall in this category, be very careful about jokes, misc. observations (especially of the personal type, etc.).  Keep it very professional.  Be overly cautious in your communications with this type of colleague.  

I've seen some good questions in the recent comments posted here and will try to address some of them.  

Have you done something to advance your career in the last week?  Reached out to someone new?  Started to learn about a new area?  

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Be especially careful of secretaries. Many have employment lawyers on speed dial and are just waiting for an opportunity for a "pay day."

Hiring Partner said...

Anonymous, that seems somewhat mean-spirited. I've not known this to be the case, but it certainly is a good idea to follow office policies on avoiding harassment claims. And, if you have an issue with the secretary, discuss with the office manager. Control temper and stay away from nasty emails and voice messages.

Anonymous said...

As a prospective applicant, how do you suggest that we deal with no responses from firms we are applying to. In law school we were told that we should follow up with firms that we haven't heard back from. Being proactive like this would help us in the process because we are viewed as having initiative and being sincere about applying to that firm. I guess now that the economy is bad, the rules have changed. If I call a firm that has not responded to my application in over a month, I get a very rude "we are not hiring" or "please don't contact us, we are still reviewing" response. If law firms/HR/Hiring Partners don't want to be "bothered," then send us a reject letter or email! Isn't there a by-law in the NALP guidelines about the proper way to deal with applicants or do those rules only apply to OCI?

Btw, you are right about the terminology in your posting. I believe the case involved the "Egg Shell Skull Rule" and it was from Vosburg v. Putney.

1L said...

In the subject of Eggshell or Thin Skull Doctrine, I remembered making the accidental mistake last semester, when called on in class, by referring to the doctrine as the Egghead doctrine.

Anonymous said...

In terms of learning about new practice areas, is this the sort of thing that can be done during law school? How might one learn about a new practice area? Treatises? Recommendations to reach this goal of branching out?

Or did you mean, targeting assignments outside one's specialty?

Anonymous said...

This is unrelated to this post but...

Any input on how firms view a drop in GPA 2L year when giving out permanent offers the next summer? I have a summer associate position lined up at a top 10 NY firm.

Journal plus interviews plus 4 tough classes dinged my GPA a bit. I didn't completely bomb the semester, somewhere just below the median most likely.