This is the second time my post discusses Donald Trump, except now he is President-elect Donald Trump. Much has been written in the week since his election regarding how his presidency may impact employers. Overall, the consensus seems to be that established laws such as Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act, for example, will not be subject to attack by the new administration, although how they are interpreted will certainly be influenced by the judges President-elect Trump nominates to the federal bench. Of more immediate concern to Human Resources professionals may be the impact of President-elect Trump’s conduct prior to his election (and certainly after) in terms of how, if at all, it may influence workplace conduct.
Back in March, I highlighted several comments by then candidate Trump that most people will readily acknowledge were outrageous. Recall Little Marco and Lying Ted; Blood pouring out of her whatever; Serge Kovaleski; and They are not sending their best … They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists… just to name a few. Many of his more outrageous comments were repeatedly replayed across the country in commercials in an attempt to underscore why he should not be elected president. But he was.
The question now is whether there will be any spillover in the workplace in terms of employees being emboldened into thinking that Trumpesque conduct or “locker room talk” is now acceptable in the workplace. We have already seen at least one example of a business trying to exploit for financial gain what can be described as Trumpesque-ness. The Fresno Grizzlies (a minor league baseball team) are selling “Taco Trucks on Every Corner” hats that closely resemble the Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hats. Will some people find this humorous while others find it offensive? Perhaps. And over time, there will certainly be other attempts to exploit the Trumpesque phenomena for financial gain. But Human Resources professionals need to be sensitive to the possibility that some employees may now feel that because President-elect Trump was elected despite making many outrageous comments, they, too, are now free to express themselves in Trumpesque terms at work. Quite obviously, they are not. The election of Mr. Trump won’t overturn years of case law regarding hostile environment claims. Consequently, Human Resources professionals should anticipate and be prepared to deal with these employees, just in case.