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Should You Stop Complimenting Your Employees?

Last week we led a seminar on Maintaining a Harassment Free Workplace.   We had a long conversation on the wisdom of saying “I like your haircut.”  New York City just passed a law prohibiting discrimination based on an employee’s hair.   Does that mean compliments are out?  Does that mean the smart move is to make no comment? We think the law allows such comments and we think they are good.  A positive workplace pays huge dividends to management and all who work there.  So a modest comment about a new haircut is a reasonable risk.  Could someone become upset?  Yes!  But is it illegal, probably not if it is limited to positive comments about the haircut.  If you question what type of comment you should make, follow the adage another lawyer just shared with me:  If you are a decent person, be yourself.  If not, be someone else!