Donna Ballman is an employee-side employment lawyer who has been practicing 25 years. She knows her stuff. Best of all, she can write.
Ballman completely won me over a few years ago with her blog post Top Ten Employment Laws You Think Exist–That Don’t. The mythical rights include free speech, privacy, and that employers must treat employees fairly.
The way I explain it is: In all 50 States and Canada, it is perfectly legal to be an asshole. Ballman is more polite.
Her new book is Stand Up for Yourself Without Getting Fired: Resolve Workplace Crisis Before You Quit, Get Axed, or Sue the Bastards. Okay, she’s only slightly more polite. (FTC Disclosure: her publisher sent me a free copy of the book to review. I didn’t promise to be nice.)
For employees, the book explains employment law in straightforward, practical terms. It gives real life examples, and walks employees through the risks and difficult choices they face when working with weasels.
Attorneys often have legal myopia; they can only see how the law applies. Ballman sees beyond the purely legal issues to the real problems employees deal with everyday–like eating and paying the heating bill. She asks all the right questions, and evaluates the choices. Sometimes, she even recommends letting valid claims go because they are too difficult or expensive to pursue. She never loses sight of the big picture and the practical effects of each choice.
I wish more lawyers were like Ballman. I wish they could see the bigger picture and what the best approach is for both the company and employee. You’d be surprised how often they are alligned–including when someone should go. (For more on this, read Jay Shepherd’s great book Firing At Will.)
Stand Up for Yourself is also a great resource for HR and managers. Ballman transforms difficult legal ideas into clear practical choices from the interview to the exit, and explains exactly what it is like to be the employee instead of the boss. If you haven’t worked for a weasel in awhile, it’s a great refresher course in why work is a four-letter word.
Ballman’s clarity, common sense, and wisdom is a gift to employees, employers and employment lawyers.