As the unofficial Midwest hype-girl for the Hostile Work Environment Podcast With Marc and Dennis, I was devastated when the decision was made to sunset the program back in late 2018.
Knowing that the door was left open for an eventual return, when the revival was finally teased I couldn’t resist the opportunity to catch up with returning host Marc Alifanz and his brand new partner (and fellow Midwesterner), Kate Bischoff.
Take a look behind the scenes to learn more about the show’s return and what lies ahead for the Hostile Work Environment with Marc and Kate:
Q. We said goodbye to HWE in 2018 after 50+ episodes—what inspired the return?
Marc: In 2018, Dennis and I had both seen significant career changes, and the weekly frequency of the podcast was proving to be exhausting and difficult for us to maintain; especially since we recorded every episode in person at one of our houses or at Dennis’s office. We loved the podcast and the great network we had developed, but work life and personal life got in the way. We didn’t want it to become a burden or resent what we were doing, so we decided to give it a rest.
Recently, however, my circumstances have changed again. I’m back out again contemplating life as a solo attorney, and I have the time and energy. I never stopped loving doing the podcast, so I checked with Dennis about starting up again, but he remains so busy with his law practice that he didn’t feel he could start up again. He gave me his blessing to continue without him.
I went about thinking about a new co-host. Requirements were: fun, energetic, funny, attorney, smarter than me, and not another white male. Amongst my crowd of friends and contacts, Kate Bischoff immediately jumped out, and when I floated the idea she immediately said yes. Her enthusiasm has helped inspire me to work even harder to set this up to be amazing as it returns.
Q. Everybody’s favorite interview question—tell us about yourselves:
Marc: I’m an employment attorney who lives in Portland, Oregon with my wife and twin 11-year-old daughters. I’ve been practicing for almost 17 years, starting in New York at a large law firm and then moving to Portland after a few years. I’ve had a diverse experience, having been a big firm defense litigator at several firms, Assistant General Counsel for the country’s largest childcare company, and CHRO for a local health care non-profit. I’ve also practiced on my own for a time, and I’m about to do that again!
My philosophy really focuses on highlighting to companies that being a good corporate citizen that treats employees well and with respect is the ultimate way to mitigate risk. I love training managers and advising companies on legal issues, and really working to minimize risk before it happens!
On a personal level, I’m a combination of rabid sports fan and total nerd. I’m a wannabe soccer hooligan but I really like maps. I play lots of racquetball but I also love sci-fi. I’m frequently hiking the mountains of Oregon but I also hang with badass librarians. I drink wine with rock stars, party with authors (including my amazing wife), and I live for my kids. That about sums it up.
Kate: I’m a sarcastic, opinionated HR lady/employment attorney living in Minneapolis, MN with my two guys (12 & 15) and two cats. (I also have multiple Coach bags, so I really fit the stereotypical HR-lady mold.)
I became an employment lawyer about 16 years ago. After litigating on behalf of employees for two years, my dad, a small business owner, wanted some return on his investment. So, I went to work on the employer-side working for one of the largest labor and employment firms in the country. Three years later, I joined the Foreign Service as a Human Resources Officer, serving at Consulate General Jerusalem and U.S. Embassy Zambia before returning home. Three and a half years ago, I started my own law and consulting business focused on HR compliance. About a third of my time is employee and manager training, another third is policy and advice (like “I gotta fire this guy, is that okay?”), and the last third is workplace investigations where I get to figure out if harassment, discrimination, or employee misconduct occurred. I love my job!
When I’m not working, soon-to-be podcasting, and teasing the poop outta Marc online, I travel! Last year, I visited Norway by myself and Iceland with my guys. I’m hoping to head to Antarctica in 2021, so I’m working hard to make that a reality.
Q. What about the show format will be staying the same?
Marc: We’re still going to bring you the craziest workplace stories we can find! We’re still going to make the discussion of law relatable! We’re still going to be funny and irreverent. And we will still never mock victims, and work our hardest to promote positive workplace values while calling out the abusers, the debasers, and the absurd.
Q. What new features can we expect to see?
Marc: First, the bad news…we will be coming less frequently, every other week, and we will try to be tighter, shooting for 30-minute episodes.
On the other hand, we have a few exciting new features!
First, we have VIDEO! We’ll be posting every episode on YouTube, so you can also see our smiling faces.
Second, we will be doing spot episodes whenever there is interesting, crazy or big employment law news. So make sure to subscribe, because you never know when a new episode might pop up.
Third, we will still be asking for your listener submissions, but we also want listener questions, comments, or ideas for discussions. While we won’t be dispensing any legal advice, we would love to discuss interesting listener legal questions on the podcast.
Q. For those listeners who may need to catch up on the series, which original episode do you recommend as a “must listen”?
Marc: Ohh there’s so many to choose from! I think from a listener perspective, we hear the most about Episode 26, Fluids. In that episode we talk about labor law, but we finish with an epic listener story about an office party gone very wrong…with bodily fluids.
For myself, I prefer Episode 22, Hate to Break it to You, But I Think You’re an Anti-Semite. In it, we piece together two apparently unrelated Reddit threads that are actually an employer and employee independently talking about their situation at work. And that situation at work may be very unkosher.
But really, you can’t go wrong no matter where you start!
Q. Now that you’re back, how can we help support the show?
A. You can help us by reviewing the show on iTunes and also sharing the show on social and telling all your friends about it! We also want to hear your listener stories and questions which you can send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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