What does Prince Harry have to do with employment law?

Nothing, but here is my stab at it.

I’ve been racking my brain to find some employment-law-related excuse to blog about Prince Harry and his book Spare, which I have not read and do not intend to read, out of respect for his late grandmum.

If looks could kill . . .

Alas, hard as I've tried, I have been unable to think of a single employment-related tie-in.

Fortunately, though, the creativity of Callum Borchers of the Wall Street Journal is far superior to my own. In “When It’s Time to Pull a Prince Harry and Burn That Bridge,” Mr. Borchers analogizes what the Duke of Sussex has done in Spare to burning one's bridges on the job. (The WSJ is heavily paywalled, so the link may not work if you don't have a paid subscription.) Mr. Borchers argues that burning one’s bridges at work is sometimes a fine thing, contrary to the advice that your parents probably gave you.

"Don't ever burn your bridges, little Harry. You never know when you might need to come home."

According to Mr. Borchers, “[S]etting old ties ablaze can advance a career or, at least, won’t stall one.” He says that the Duke of Sussex views himself as a "whistleblower" on the Royal Family, "revealing flaws in the British monarchy and sharing the mental toll of royal life, including panic attacks and substance abuse." And, look, now he has [had a "ghost" write for him] a best seller!

But most of the column consists of anecdotes about regular people who left their jobs "on bad terms" and weren't sorry about it. They blew the whistle on sexual harassment or a toxic workplace culture on their way out the door, they accepted a job but at the last minute decided not to take it, they quit abruptly. (Does "quitting abruptly" means giving only one week's notice instead of two?)

As "bridge-burners," these anecdotes left me cold. They're so tame! At least, they're nothing like publicly bad-mouthing your dad (the KING!!!), your stepmother, your only brother, and your sister-in-law, and letting the world know that you got a funny feeling when your late mother’s brand of lip cream was used to soothe your frostbitten . . . well, you know.

(Gee, for someone who hasn’t read the book, Robin sure seems to know a lot about it, doesn’t she?)

Anyway, back to burning bridges in the workplace. The commenters to Mr. Borchers' column generally did not agree that burning one’s bridges on the job was a good thing, which restored my faith in humanity. Sometimes Mummy and Daddy know best. And one comment was so good that I thought it deserved a column of its own. This is from commenter Raul Campos, my new hero:

After working for 11 companies over a 47-year career, I retired last month, having burned no bridges despite the usual internal conflicts, personality differences, and poor treatment that I occasionally had to endure. I emerged from the daily grind with incredible friendships and excellent client memories. The key for me was to follow three essential rules: 1. Never judge other people – what I learned early in my career is that it takes time to learn who someone is, and what that person is capable of achieving. Judging people only limits your ability to collaborate with others and work effectively with clients. 2.Always forgive anyone who has offended you – the burden of carrying that anger, however justified, against another is debilitating and counterproductive. 3. Love your coworkers, boss, and clients – this is not always easy, but we are all humans, and if we can truly love who we are, despite our flaws, we can always find it possible to love others despite their flaws. I have also witnessed during my long career that people who burn bridges at work often do the same with friends and family and suffer greatly for doing so. If I could start over, I would add one more rule to my list – always be kind and learn to recognize the suffering of your colleagues, bosses, and clients.

(Emphasis is mine.)

Wow. What a guy. My new year's resolution is to be Raoul, not Harry.

Image Credits: From flickr. Photo of Queen Elizabeth, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry (2020) in the Public Domain. Photo of Princess Di and then-Prince Charles (1981) by Joe Haupt, Creative Commons license.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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