Employees, for the most part, believe everything their employer tells them. Most of the time, your employer's interests and yours coincide. You have a job to do, and they want you to do it. But sometimes, those interests collide. Sometimes, you have to take what your employer says with a grain of salt. Other times, they're flat-out lying.
Here are some lies your employer may tell you, and why you shouldn't believe them:
You have to resign: Flat-out lie. Nobody can make you quit your job. They may want you to sign a letter of resignation. That means they probably get out of paying unemployment, and may be able to convince a judge or jury that you left willingly instead of being forced out. Don't resign unless you're getting a severance package or something else that makes it worth it.
Sign this and you can keep your job: Depends on what it is. If you're told by the Risk Management guy who locked you in a room for hours and accused you of stealing that you can keep your job if you admit to stealing, it's a lie. You'll be fired and possibly arrested as soon as you sign. If it's a noncompete agreement, there are states that allow your employer to say, "sign or be fired." My state, Florida, is one of them. Some states don't allow this. Check with an employment lawyer in your state before you give up your right to work for a competitor.
These are never enforced: Horse hockey. Flat-out lie. Why would your employer ask you to sign an agreement that's never enforced? It's because they think it will be enforced. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. Before you sign something you think won't be enforceable, check with an employment lawyer in your state.
We'd never do that: Flat-out lie. If your employer is trying to get you to agree that you give up your copyright to your novel, your rights to the video game you're designing in your spare time, or your LinkedIn contacts, they're lying if they say they would never actually invoke that part of the agreement. They wouldn't ask you to sign it if they didn't intend to enforce it.
We've never enforced this before: That may be true, but it doesn't mean you won't be the first. If they don't intend to enforce a noncompete, an intellectual property agreement or other provision, they shouldn't have a problem deleting it. Otherwise, assume the worst.
We're here to help: HR may tell you they're the employee's friend. They may be able to help you as long as your interests align with the company's, but they exist to protect the company, not you. You may have to report sexual harassment, apply for FMLA leave, or seek disability accommodations through them, but that doesn't make them your friend or ally. Do what you have to do, but put it in writing. Cover yourself. You can bet HR is covering the company.
Those are just some of the lies you may be told at work. Don't be fooled. Can you think of other lies your employers have told you? I'd love to hear about it.
Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.