September 2013

He certainly won’t be wearing Burberry or Hackett clothes for the next few years…

Published on: 30 Sep 2013

If you’re married with a child and you have a respectable job working as an accounts clerk at the fashion giant Burberry what would you do?

burberryWell, if you’re Victor Navarro from London, rather than work hard, try to build his career and enjoy time with his family, he decided to undertake what a judge referred to as “brazen and substantial offences”.

Navorro was earning £25,000 per year with Burberry when he defrauded the company out of £83,000 between August 2007 and July 2010. His theft from Burberry wasn’t found out at the time and he left the company to work at another world famous fashion house, Hackett.

He carried on with the approach taken at Burberry and took a further £66,153 from Hackett.

He used the stolen money to buy a Porsche Turbo 911 and two BMW X5s but unfortunately for him he won’t be able to enjoy the cars as his thefts were identified and he was jailed for 21 months. In an interesting twist he has now been ordered to repay £113,658 to the fashion giants or face a further 2 years in prison under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

It’s looking like Mr Navorro won’t be wearing any Burberry, Hackett or other fashionable clothes for the next couple of years and instead will be wearing a prison uniform.

Can you be fired for being too attractive?

Published on: 29 Sep 2013

Picture the scene. You’re the boss. You’re married and you find your assistant very attractive. Your wife finds out about this and demands that you fire your assistant.

Do you:

a) Tell your wife that you don’t like your assistant and hope she believes you,

b) Admit it and then ask you assistant to leave and pay her a fair termination payment, or

c) Fire your assistant because she was an “irresistible attraction”?

Bizarrely enough, a court in the US state of Iowa has just unanimously ruled that it is legal to fire employees if they are seen as an “irresistible attraction” even if the employee hasn’t done anything wrong.

The background to the case was that lawyers for 53 year old Dentist James Knight argued that he fired his 32 year old assistant to save his marriage and that this did not represent discrimination.

In other words, he didn’t discriminate against his employee because she was good looking but rather it was in the interest of saving his marriage.

I can’t help thinking that maybe the dentist and his wife got the better deal out of this compared to his assistant as the background to the case was that the dentist had worked with his (attractive) assistant for 10 years but his wife only found out about some “personal texts” between the two of them towards the end of the 10 years.

After the texts were discovered the dentist then complained to his wife that he found his assistant’s clothing too tight and distracting (an interesting point to note here is that he didn’t complain to his wife about this for 10 years until his wife found the text messages but hey ho let’s just move on).

So, in summary a 53 year old man found a 21 year younger woman attractive. His wife found out and to save the marriage the younger employee had to go.

Rather than make a reasonable termination payment it was decided to fire the younger woman because she was too attractive!

The fired employee then took the case to court where in the opinion of probably a lot of people a bizarre decision was made by the court that this did not represent discrimination and was acceptable.

So, in Iowa it looks like it’s acceptable to fire a lady if she’s too attractive.

Oh and in case you’re interested, the decision was made by Iowa’s high court which contains only men and not women…

Surely everybody should get this benefit at work?

Published on: 26 Sep 2013

Having a motivated team in the office is key to any business. As well as a salary component, a person’s remuneration package could include other benefits such as flexible working days, health insurance and access to an executive jet.

I mentioned access to an executive jet because surely all of you have got regular access to the company jet to whisk you off to exotic places??

Bloomberg has reported on a Philadelphia lawsuit by a former pilot of the fashion giant Abercrombie & Fitch’s corporate jet.

To cut a long story short, the 55 year old former employee is claiming that he was discriminated against when he was replaced by a younger man.

As will soon become apparent, my guess is that he may well have been replaced by not only a younger man but by a better looking younger man.

It’s been reported that according to papers submitted to the court, Michael Jeffries, the chief executive of Abercrombie & Fitch insisted that models were hired to work as stewards on the plane.

These models stewards had to be clean shaven and wear a uniform of Abercrombie & Fitch polo shirts, boxer briefs, jeans and flip flops.

As well as insisting on male models being stewards it also claimed that if Jeffries, his partner Matthew or any other guest made a request they should respond by saying “no problem”.

The other thing which I personally think should be a benefit provided to all employees is that Jeffries was also able to take his 3 dogs with him on the jet and there were even detailed instructions on the seating arrangements for his dogs when they travelled with him.

So there you go. The next time you’re discussing your annual review in the office feel free to say that as well as salary, healthcare, and flexible working arrangements you want access to the company jet with male or female models of your choice employed as stewards or stewardesses on the plane.

Oh, and don’t forget to insist on jet travel for your 3 dogs…

How would you answer this interview question?

Published on: 21 Sep 2013

The majority of you have no doubt attended an interview for a job at some stage. Some of you have also probably done the interviewing.

So, what do you think are reasonable questions to ask at an interview?

There are classic interview questions such as “What are your weaknesses?” (in my view the obvious answer to this question is that you work too hard) and “Where do you see yourself in 3 years time?” (avoid saying sat in a big chair, doing very little but getting paid a lot of money).

There could be a new question though that may be being asked in interviews if Mr Justin Bassett’s experience in America is anything to go by.

Mr Basset is a New York based statistician and according to the Boston Globe he had just finished answering some standard questions during an interview when the interviewer turned to her computer to look for his facebook page.

He had set up the privacy controls on his facebook page so she couldn’t read anything on his private profile. She then asked him for his login details.

So, what do you think?

Is it a legitimate question to ask at an interview? Does your future employer have a right to see a person’s facebook profile to see what sort of person they will be employing?

Or do you think that your facebook account is private and is only open to friends that you want to let see your private activities?

Mr Basset took the latter view and refused to hand over his login details. He withdrew his application and left the interview.

I’ve got a feeling though that his experience of being asked about his facebook account at an interview may well catch on with other people being asked a similar question.

This is a tough situation as whilst most of you probably think it’s wrong to give your login details if you are desperate for the job then you’ll probably provide the details.

As someone in the office pointed out though, surely the easiest way to deal with this is to set up a second “interview friendly facebook account” where you can post pleasant updates on your wall and leave your actual updates for your real facebook account?

To be on the safe side, let’s play football without a ball…

Published on: 16 Sep 2013

A school in the UK where a number of top footballers went to when they were children has banned leather footballs for health and safety reasons.

Malvern Primary school in Liverpool where England and Liverpool player Steven Gerrard studied has just announced that in order to reduce the risk of injury to children whilst playing football at break-times leather footballs will be replaced by foam sponge balls.

Whilst health and safety is vitally important for both private companies and public institutions such as schools there will be a lot of people who will feel that maybe this is a step too far.

When I was a child I played football at school with a leather ball and I must admit that I never really felt overly threatened by the ball or exposed to personal danger as a result of (sometimes) being in the close vicinity of it.

Also, if I’m honest I was so bad that I would stumble over the ball whether it was leather or foam.

The argument by the school is that as there are children from the age of 4 to 11 present then there could be a risk of injury if one of the younger ones was hit by a leather ball.

There is also the other view that playing football with a foam ball will discourage children from playing and hence undertaking some form of exercise which as a result could increase the health and safety issues from obesity in children.

Looking on the bright side though, when the 2030 World Cup Finals take place with a foam ball at least England will have a chance of getting past the first round. That is of course as long as it isn’t raining during the finals in case by then they are not allowed to play in the rain.

How can you make $1bn dollars overnight?

Published on: 04 Sep 2013

The Chief Executive of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer has been in the news a lot recently. Yesterday, he announced that Microsoft had agreed a deal to buy Nokia’s mobile phone business for £4.6 bn.

From Nokia’s perspective it may be the case that Microsoft is the saviour of the company. After all, Nokia once had 40% of the mobile handset market but now is way behind Apple and the various Android devices.

microsoft buy nokiaShareholders in Nokia may have mixed feelings though as the Microsoft deal values the Nokia business at $7 bn whilst back in 2007 the business had a market capitalisation of $150 bn. As they say, it’s all in the timing when it comes to selling shares!

From Microsoft’s point of view the acquisition of Nokia highlights their desire to make sure they have a foothold in the expanding mobile market. They will also enhance their presence in the hardware business to compliment their software business.

As well as the announcement of the purchase of Nokia, Mr Ballmer made another big announcement a couple of weeks ago when he announced that he would be retiring from his job as Chief Executive of Microsoft.

He made his announcement in the evening after the stock market had closed.

Arrivals and departures of key executives of quoted companies is price sensitive information and share prices can move significantly as a result.

Depending on what markets and analysts think of the arrival/departure of the executive, share prices can go up or down.

So how did the market react to Mr Ballmer’s resignation?

When the market opened the day after his announcement Microsoft shares were up 10%.

In other words, investors were pleased with his announcement that he would be leaving!

Was Mr Ballmer upset at this reaction?

Only he knows the answer to this but one thing that softened the blow was the increase in his personal wealth as a result of his decision to leave Microsoft.

He owns 333 million shares in Microsoft and following the increase in the share price as a result of his departure, the value of his shareholding in the company increased by $786 million.

So, by making the decision to leave the company his wealth increased by $761 million.

Now, let’s be honest here. How many of you would “fire yourself” if you could make nearly $1 bn overnight?

Would you be impressed if your child did this?

Published on: 01 Sep 2013

Do you have children? If you do then at one stage or another they are likely to ask you what you do at work.

You can explain what you do (although if you’re an accountant and start explaining bank reconciliations to your 5 year old you’re unlikely to get too much of a response).

newsreaderWhat is becoming more popular though is taking your child with you to work. I don’t mean taking them to work every day and making them sit under your desk but rather taking your child to work to see what you do and to meet some of your colleagues.

In America they even have an annual “Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day”. It’s now in its 20th year and last year 37 millions youths and adults took part.

There are lots of benefits of taking your child to the office. For example, getting them to annoy your colleagues that you don’t like enhancing family ties and showing them the benefits of education.

There can also be disadvantages though.

Step forward the young daughter of Moroccan Newsreader Lena Alwash to highlight one disadvantage.

Lena took her daughter to work and the result is shown in the video below.

My guess is that Lena gave her Smartphone to her daughter to keep her amused whilst Lena was reading the news live on national TV.

You can’t blame the daughter though as if your mum’s phone starts ringing what else do you do apart from take it to her.

The fact that your mum is reading the news live on TV is only a minor problem.

Congratulations to the daughter for her initiative of taking the phone to her mum and congratulations to her mum for the professionalism of dealing with the interruption (only a small raised eyebrow rather than the scream that a lot of people would have made).

The ExP Group