Wisconsin Lawyers Blog

Wisconsin Lawyers Sharing their Expertise

The Danger of Labels in Employment Disputes

By Michael Brown • Nov 23rd, 2011 • Category: Employment Law, Newest Post
Dymo Label Maker

If you’re an employee or employer in a dispute or lawsuit, you will be tempted– very tempted– to describe events in terms of adjectives or conclusions, i.e. labels.

For example, a worker may want to tell a boss or a legal authority “I was given unfair and impossible expectations” (the operative labels being “unfair” and “impossible”), as compared to saying something like this. “On June 5th, Supervisor Jones told me to complete 1,000 widgets in 1 minute, and I could not do that work in that time frame.”

In employment disputes, it is much better to speak in the latter terms, i.e. to speak the language of facts, than it is to speak in label-ese.

Know this: to the ears of the person(s) you want to influence, the language of labels– e.g. “unfair,” “lied,” “disorganized,” “harassed,” etc. etc.– is like the sound of nails scratching across a chalkboard.  The horrible sound of labels will muffle out the factual content of what you say.

But if you speak in the language of facts, and describe things strictly in terms of what was said and done, i.e. the terms of who, what, when, where and how, then you give yourself the best chance of having your audience actually consider what you have to say.  The audience can thereafter apply themselves whatever adjectives or conclusions come to their own minds.

Please note the audience is in control of their own decisions.  And they will resent you if you try to make decisions for them, which in effect is what you’d be doing if you speak in terms of labels.

So, whatever your employment dispute and whoever your audience, if you decide you’re going to speak up (which itself can be a big decision), it’s best you give your audience the raw facts, politely stated.  Then stand back as the audience considers the facts and makes decisions.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Michael Brown is an Employee Rights Attorney at the law firm of Peterson, Berk & Cross. He represents employees in employment law matters and assists employees with matters concerning Unpaid Wages, Fraud, Discrimination/Harassment, Unemployment, Wrongful Discharge/Whistleblowing, Contracts, Pre-Litigation Counseling, and Litigation(Federal and State Courts, ERD, EEOC, other forums). Michael can be contacted at [email protected]; phone: (920) 831-0300
Email this author | All posts by Michael Brown

Leave a Reply