What Should We Do About A Teen Employee's Helicopter Parent? Ask Leslie

By Leslie Zieren, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

Dear Leslie:


We have several young employees, including a few who are 18 or 19. The mother of one young man, Jonah, keeps trying to insert herself into how we manage him. She calls to demand that he be scheduled a certain way and comes into the restaurant regularly and asks to speak to Jonah's manager, which among other things, disrupts our customer service. She also called us to complain when he did not get a year-end raise, which, actually, no one did. Do we address this situation with her or with Jonah or with both?


Signed: Tom


Dear Tom:

Your relationship with Jonah is one of employer-employee. Jonah is no longer a minor (most states declare the age of majority as 18 years of age). The law will treat him as an adult. Because he is an adult, unless there is documentation otherwise, his mother is no longer his legal guardian.

His mother's status is that of his relative. She is not your employee nor her son's legal representative. If anything, she is a visitor or, if she buys something, a customer.

The next time Jonah's mother attempts to insert herself into your employer-employee relationship with Jonah, politely take her aside, with a witness. Explain to her that she is welcome on your premises as a customer; however, Jonah is your employee and that you will discuss the terms and conditions of Jonah's employment with Jonah.

Explain to her that her berating of managers in front of customers, coworkers, and Jonah is not permitted and that she will not be welcome in the restaurant if she does it again.

Also, have a discussion with Jonah. Tell him you mean no disrespect to his mother; however, he is your employee, not her. You do not intend to discuss his terms and conditions of employment with her, just as you would not discuss them with any other person who did not have a business need to know.

Jack McCalmon and Leslie Zieren are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.

If you have a question that you would like Jack McCalmon or Leslie Zieren to consider for this column, please submit it to ask@mccalmon.com. Please note that The McCalmon Group cannot guarantee that your question will be answered. Answers are based on generally accepted risk management best practices. They are not, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you need an answer immediately or desire legal advice, please call your local legal counsel.

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