Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bridezilla tales: What's an HR director get paid?

Around $133,000 a year -- at the Pensacola News Journal, anyway, according to a jury decision yesterday involving a former Gannett human resources chief who sued her fiance for breach of contract after he canceled their engagement.

The case involves jilted bride RoseMary Shell; ex-fiance Wayne Gibbs; the News Journal, and the formerly Gannett-owned Times in Gainesville, Ga. From the Times story: "Shell testified that she quit a job paying $81,000 a year in Pensacola, Fla., to move back to Gainesville and be with Gibbs after he proposed in October 2006. In December he left a note in the couple’s bathroom expressing second thoughts about the marriage, and he broke off the engagement for good in March 2007. Shell, who now makes $31,000 a year working for North Georgia College & State University, sued the following June."

Yesterday, the jury sided with Shell, awarding her $150,000. In their deliberations, jurors considered Shell's total compensation: Her $81,000 salary; a 15% annual bonus, and benefits valued at up to $40,000. Total: about $133,000 yearly. "She should have stayed in Florida," juror Delita Smith told the Times. "I would, if I had that high-paying job."

Noted: Gannett owned the Times from 1981-2004, when it sold the paper to Morris Multimedia.

Got an offbeat Gannett tale to share? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.


  1. Finance? You mean fiance, right?

  2. Once again, your bias against Gannett shows in this post.

    Your headline and first paragraph are deliberately misleading. You're trying to make people think an HR manager's salary is $150,000. Few people -- other than juries in a civil suit -- would consider the value of an employee's benefits as part of their compensation. Most people couldn't even tell you the value of their benefits.

    Second, you are deliberately trying to create the impression that this is just another overpaid manager. In fact, national figures show that her salary was only slightly above the median salary level for human resources managers in Pensacola (and nationwide).

    I'll give you credit for linking to the original story. It helped clear up the confusion your slanted post created.

  3. @7:42 a.m.: Ooops! I was channeling Jethro Bodine!

  4. @8:03 a.m.: Once again, the word "pedantic" comes to mind. Look it up at

  5. Anon 8:03AM – You should consider your own bias.

    The headline could have easily been sensationalized. It’s not. And, the post is relevant as it provides a marker regarding Gannett compensation and more importantly, a look into the actions of one of Gannett’s top HR leaders, someone who should be better than most in understanding and dealing with interpersonal relationships – especially his own.

    Spin Gibbs’ actions around to his fiancĂ© being a relocated employee and his decision making and actions seem less than sophomoric. You wouldn’t expect a top HR pro to act this way – especially the piece about the letter. Given that, I wonder how good this guy is in his role.

    In regard to your comp spin, any top manager knows if you’re looking for savings – and who isn’t in Gannett, that you look at people’s total comp including bonuses and benefits – as that’s the total expense to the company. And, if you’re in a role to make those decisions and you’re not taking that into consideration, then you’re really not doing your job. So, don’t knock Jim for doing his in sharing it especially since that’s on the record.

  6. Lets see, if you have 1,000 employees and find a way to screw them out of just $10 a month in higher premiums or co-pays, then you have recouped your salary. Neat.

  7. so did she make $81,000 or $150,000? I'm confused.

  8. I'm with the pedant, @8:03. Jim regularly pokes at the GCI top execs for their compensation packages, including cars, underwater stock options and more. So, being pedantic like 8:03, what did you REALLY "earn" from GCI, Jim. You have often said (I admire that you did...) that it was $105,000. Well, please add in benefits, any bonuses, travel, computer, housing or the like that the company provided for which you benefited. The pedant in me thinks the true number will be north of $105,000. Maybe something like an HR director?

  9. @9:39 am: My updated $133,000 figure is based on the jury formula cited in the story.

  10. @10:03 am: You are correct. Throw in medical, etc., and my total comp was probably at least 50% higher.

  11. Am I the only person who could really care less about the dollar amount? I can't believe this woman actually won her case...

    I certainly feel for the jilted. That's a terrible and unfortunate thing to have happened to her. However, engagement isn't a legally binding contract... it's a state of mind.

    If you read the actual lawsuit filed by Shell and her attorney, it makes a giant leap of an assumption: that a legally binding contract was formed when the two parties entered into the engagement and set a wedding date.

    They don't cite any Georgia state statutes or precedents that support that claim.

    And there was no condition set by any legal agreement that forced her to quit her job and move in with him. It was personal discussions and the "urging of the defendant" that caused her to decide to leave her job.

    She had a choice and she chose to move. She could have continued with her nice job in Georgia until they were in a marriage which IS legally-binding.

    Most statues that exist dealing with engagements concern gifts given and whether they are conditional or unconditional. Awarding, essentially, lost wages is a whole new ballgame... it's preposterous and unfounded.

    Even if they were married I can't imagine her lawsuit winning...

    The dude must have really had an awful lawyer. You've also got a jury in a civil case who I'm sure felt a lot sorrier for the jilted bride than a wishy-washy suitor...

  12. knowing something about the folks, i find the case absurd, his lawyer incompetent, and the jury and the law process indiotic....not to mention the journalism.....nothing was said about how many times she had quit jobs in the past few years (several), how she hid TREMENDOUS debt that she couldn't explain (the jury didn't care...especially as one juror slept through the case)....bad law....just because it's legal, doesn't mean it's right.....bad stuff...

  13. I just did a write-thru, to clear up any confusion on my part in an earlier version of this post. Speed's never a good substitute for facts.

  14. Hearing Shell's side on the Today Show makes me wonder how a seasoned HR exec could get entangled in such a mess.

    And, please, anyone who's used lawyers at great length knows their game well - espeically HR execs. Client's actions and approval of legal strategies plays a great role in any outcome.

  15. they are scumbags - the winner and the attorney. interesting fact that wasn't reported was that the judge (female) - her ex-spouse was one of the jurors and that the winning attorney WAS a judge as about home cooking! shame on the media for NOT reporting the facts....but no surprise there....


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