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Advisory Services

Employee & Labor Relations Consulting

Vetting the HR Expert: 
Techniques for Evaluating the Expert

Charles A. Conine, SPHR

One important consideration for counsel once it is determined that an HR expert should be retained is whether the potential experts being interviewed possess experience that’s relevant to the issues in the trial. 

Can the proposed expert speak to the full range of these issues?  The HR generalist who is trained in a variety of human resources disciplines has the benefit of perspective, understanding not only the interrelation among a variety of HR disciplines but as importantly, the connections between the policies generated in each and how these policies may be interpreted in actual practice.  

Consider the case of a plaintiff alleging wrongful discharge during a probationary period.  Defendants have answered, stating that plaintiff falsified his employment application and was released when reference checks revealed the falsification. Plaintiff countered, stating that he would have explained the discrepancies had he been afforded the right of appeal, which he alleges Defendants unreasonably denied. 

While experts who have worked primarily in a single HR discipline, say, as a recruiter, may be perfectly suited to testify concerning steps employers take to verify applicant statements before a candidate is hired, that same expert may be unable to opine concerning what mitigating factors employers may consider before discharging employees during a probationary period – or whether and why honesty by job applicants is a bona fide reason for discharging them in the first place, or rejecting a request for an appeal of a discharge on that basis. 

To read the full article, please request a copy from Chuck Conine by emailing him here.

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Trends Shaping the Workplace

Chuck Conine:  Old Workplace is Out

HR expert tells Cornell industry event transformational HR practices are “invigorating” Millennials while traditional programs send the wrong message.


Organizational development expert and author Chuck Conine told 250 food industry executives gathered recently at Cornell University that companies investing in transparent, pro-employee programs are more likely to win over new business while creating dynamic, lasting loyalty with employees.. 

“What we saw as a general restlessness on the part of Generation Y employees has evolved into a generation of young people who can’t breathe when restricted by too many corporate policies.  It’s more than restlessness now, however; it’s an impatience with employers who aren’t visionary, who can’t or won’t see the future.”  Conine said this attitude translates poorly to employees. 

Questioned by Cornell’s professor Alex Susskind who teaches service process management and communication to hospitality industry students, Conine said that traditional employee handbooks and “top down” communication are “absolutely counterintuitive” to today’s Millennial generation employees.   “What gets today’s younger employees fired up is meaningful work, fewer rules and flexible benefit programs with a twist!”

“It’s a profound disconnect for employees who are seeking meaningful work at a company that cares about the world as much as profit.  Why do you think Starbucks has done so well?  With their predominantly younger workforce and their openness to change, Conine continued, Starbucks has leap-frogged ahead of many companies, particularly in the ways they’ve chosen to engage with their team.   “That attitude shows up at the cash register, I promise you.”

Conine said the “twist” in employee benefits is relatively new and is already producing results.  “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act employers have had to rethink their entire employee benefit program.  Really progressive companies have totally redrawn their benefits, taking down all that old structure and replacing it with a list of benefits from which employees can choose — or design themselves.   

New, more flexible benefits along with more “face time” with senior executives are contributing to a “sea change” of attitudinal shifts among all employees, Conine noted.


Cornell University professor Alex Susskind, PhD  listens as organizational development expert Chuck Conine discusses the appeal of  “transparent, invigorating” employee programs

Phto copyright by Jon Reis, 2014

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