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mrr50
07-11-2012, 01:33 PM
I have worked in management for 30 years, 20 of those were with unionized workers. Any terminations involving physical contact(I have never had this happen to me) have NEVER been overturned.

GarrAarghHrumph
07-11-2012, 02:32 PM
It looks that way, but his supervisor goaded him, overworked him, and was a generally rude, nasty and unpleasant man who paid his staff minimum wage, paid illegals even less whenever he could, and gave no benefits. My friend, who is a very easygoing and personable guy, as well as a good worker, had been there for 10 years. He was exhausted from putting in overtime on the day the incident happened, and I think it was forgivable although regrettable. If his workplace had had a union, he likely would have disciplined, but not fired. And even though it didn't, one or other of the supervisors might have put in a good word for him.

Physical violence in the workplace is not excusable, and is normally grounds for being fired. A union could not have helped him with this. Another supervisor putting in a good word for him would not have helped. This is not "forgivable although regrettable". He's lucky he wasn't brought up on criminal charges.


Even the most union-friendly arbitrator will not be inclined to overturn a termination due to physical contact such as you describe. There were other avenues that could have been taken to address a hostile work environment, and your friend chose the wrong way.


I have worked in management for 30 years, 20 of those were with unionized workers. Any terminations involving physical contact(I have never had this happen to me) have NEVER been overturned.

Exactly. Once you've had physical contact with someone, you're done. This doesn't excuse away or forgive the behaviour of the manager that Japanfan described; but there's just no way this employee can be kept on staff if he's been violent, and a union could not have helped him in this case.

Aussie Willy
07-11-2012, 02:33 PM
Yes, and OSHA will be beating down the company's door ASAP. We've had two separate incidents with workers out in the warehouse doing things they should not, and were not told to, do that resulted in injury for one and death for the other. The death happened late last year, on a Friday night shift, and I wasn't at my desk 10 minutes on Monday morning before OSHA was calling in, asking for the warehouse manager and/or the company president. These were not "newbie" workers, BTW.
Wow what happened? I work in the safety area of my company so we take it very seriously. And the parent company of which we are part of have had deaths in the workplace. Thankfully we have had none in the division I work for. So I totally understand the processes that companies have to go through.

FigureSpins
07-11-2012, 02:50 PM
I think that conversation should go to PM, just in case there are lawsuits pending. Just mho.


When I received a new laptop, the very-sweet guy in IT who swapped out my data for me was shocked that my old laptop didn't have personal photos, music and videos to be moved. My Favorites list was all Admissions-related links. I asked him to set up some printers, port my email folders and move some data, so I was surprised at his surprise. I remarked "Isn't it against the University's policy to have that stuff on my work laptop?" He hedged a bit and said, "Well, yeah, but no one pays attention to that rule. I just want to get the computer set up and running quickly. I'm not going to be the Laptop Cop." ROFLOL

As an IT professional, I know that many companies will state "no personal computer use" in their employee handbook and then not enforce the rule. Other companies, especially small ones, don't care much. However, when times get tough or new management comes in, the people abusing the privilege/overlook are perceived as less productive people. Any company with a good IT department can calculate and report on computer/internet usage. It comes into play when there's a RIF in the air or performance appraisals.

genevieve
07-11-2012, 03:51 PM
It looks that way, but his supervisor goaded him, overworked him, and was a generally rude, nasty and unpleasant man who paid his staff minimum wage, paid illegals even less whenever he could, and gave no benefits. My friend, who is a very easygoing and personable guy, as well as a good worker, had been there for 10 years. He was exhausted from putting in overtime on the day the incident happened, and I think it was forgivable although regrettable. If his workplace had had a union, he likely would have disciplined, but not fired. And even though it didn't, one or other of the supervisors might have put in a good word for him.

I'm trying to figure out why your friend stayed there for 10 years if the workplace was so untenable.

But no, violence in the workplace is never justified.

gkelly
07-11-2012, 03:58 PM
Perhaps if there had been a union, conditions would never have gotten so untenable in the first place that he would have been driven to violence.

But once he went there, a union wasn't going to help him keep the job.

MacMadame
07-11-2012, 04:37 PM
But Smiley said she saw them "floating around the office" so they did exist.
I was speaking generally.

I see a lot of people making pronouncements about what "the workplace" is like but what they are saying isn't true of every industry or every company. There is a lot of variation out there.

In my career, I have frequently worked for places with no formal "induction" and no employee handbook. Yet I was able to get the lay of the land and not get fired just fine. These things are part of mature industries and older companies but not necessarily a start up, a small business run by the owner, etc.

berthesghost
07-11-2012, 04:54 PM
At my last job, there was a guy who actually downloaded porn to a work computer! I wasn't so shocked that they tolerated this because a. When he worked, he worked his ass off and was one of the top producers and more importantly b. the economy was still good, we were super busy and replacements were very hard to find.

In a bad economy, it's much easier to think you can do better when there are 100 people all begging to have a job and your staff is slipping up.

Also, firing someone is an uncomfortable conversation to have and unfortunately bosses sometimes use bogus or silly excuses like "well, there was that tuesday 3 years ago when you used the company email to send out birthday party invites. Thats against policy and we really need someone more committed to the job" which is really more about them being nervous than it is about a critique of your work.

But I'm sticking with my original gut feeling. Don't be surprised to find that you were replaced by someone's cousin or best friend. I see it happenall the time.

BittyBug
07-11-2012, 05:12 PM
Smiley - Wow, I can see why you'd be in shock. And while I'm sorry you lost your income stream, I think you'll look back on this and feel lucky that you escaped before you invested any more of your time and emotional energy in a place with such capricious management.

Regarding your IBS, in general I have found that employers really don't want to know about employee problems, and the more they do, the more they see an employee as high maintenance / difficult. Since you mentioned that your condition only affected you for one day, for a future position, perhaps consider not disclosing your illness in advance since you may not require much if any accommodation. Instead, you could just wait to deal with it if and when it comes up, and even then, you don't necessarily have to disclose your condition (which is Protected Health Information) - you could just say you are not feeling well that day / have a stomach bug / might have a touch of food poisoning / something is bothering your stomach. (I apologize if you find these comments overreaching or intrusive - my first husband had Crohn's so I certainly appreciate the difficulties of IBS and other similar diseases - I just think that sometimes in the workplace, the less disclosed, the better.)

I hope you find a new position quickly. :)

FigureSpins
07-11-2012, 05:35 PM
ITA that, especially in a small company, the employee handbook, productivity measures and even performance appraisals are done seat-of-the-pants, if at all. I don't even have a printed copy of the handbook from my current organization: it's online and updated regularly. I went four years without an appraisal. Our new President insisted that everyone receive one this year, otherwise my boss wouldn't have done it. (In fact, I wrote most of it for him because he literally does not know what I do for a living.)

I'm really surprised that paper copies of the handbook were "laying around." I would guess that the handbooks had been recently issued to existing employees. I've never seen anyone with a handbook on their desk unless it was benefit enrollment time or new books had just been issued. Maybe there's a merger or takeover in the works, so they had to make it look like a well-run company and not a guy who just moved out of the garage. It might very well be that there weren't any spare copies, but I don't think anything in there would have saved the OP's job. Be honest: when a handbook says "no personal computer usage," most people will just go with the flow.

I really think new employees have to be apple-polishers, especially in this economy. If you want a copy of the handbook and the supervisor's not providing it, borrow someone else's and take it home to read/copy. You don't feel well, let your supervisor know and explain that you're going to be in the loo for a while, but you're okay. Want to check your email on company computer - ask your supervisor, not the slacker one cube over. If the supervisor gives out the wrong information, you have a case to argue when the CEO blows his top. Performance goals should be to learn your job and do it well. Observe others and see what they do, including the supervisor. If you have free time, ask the supervisor if there's something else you could be doing. It's smart to be proactive and hard-working.

Just reading the OP's posts, my take on the situation is that they hired a person they hoped would shake up their existing staff that coasts by day-to-day and they instead got someone who wanted to keep the status quo. The CEO is the typical guru at what the company does/makes, but not a professional manager. The supervisor is afraid of confrontation and probably doesn't know what she's expected to do, either. The CEO's probably riding her to get the staff to work harder instead of hiring additional people. Hindsight being 20/20, the OP should have managed the supervisor, checking in every day or so to say "I know how to do this, who should I speak with about that?" and "I have a little free time, do you want me to take something off your plate?" If you get ill at work, you gotta say something to your supervisor, even if it's just an email saying that you have an upset stomach but it'll be okay.

I can totally envision one of my former Overlords coming through the cubicles area to/from the snack room and noticing that the OP wasn't at his/her desk. He's already beefed to the Supervisor about the slackers she supervises and this one is from the same mold. After the second walkabout, Overlord gets on the Supervisor's case, saying that she has to "step up and manage her people." Supervisor's been blind-sided because she doesn't do bed-checks. When she talks to the OP, the response is that s/he has some sort of disease/disability-she really doesn't know-and she's afraid of a lawsuit if she presses the issue. Therefore, the Overlord decides that he'll be the bad guy and finds a credible reason to lower headcount without cost. After all, last quarter's returns were awful and someone had to be let go, so last hired-first fired. Best of all, this will put the Fear of Overlord into the rest of the slackers so they work harder instead of watching YouTube videos on company time/computers.

Just a bit of fiction that's totally credible in my world. Free advice is overpriced, but I wouldn't allow a manager to ruin my work reputation. Better to be an apple-polisher with a new job than a lemming who ends up out on the street. Just mho.

Louis
07-11-2012, 06:15 PM
In my career, I have frequently worked for places with no formal "induction" and no employee handbook. Yet I was able to get the lay of the land and not get fired just fine. These things are part of mature industries and older companies but not necessarily a start up, a small business run by the owner, etc.

Even in mature industries and older companies, orientation and formal policies can be bad to nonexistent. It is very hard to come up with one set of policies that applies to, e.g., 50,000 people. There are often different policies for different departments, levels of responsibility, and tenures. Oftentimes, local laws come into play. Sometimes departments have discretion in how to apply company policies, etc., etc.

In my opinion, you rarely if ever get a full set of written rules, and even if you do, the unwritten rules are normally more important. It's a valuable professional skill to be able to perceive and navigate the unwritten rules and company culture.

Smiley, I am very sorry that this happened to you. I suspect that the real gap in understanding may have been with how you would be evaluated. Did you have objectives or performance goals?

Hypothetical scenario here -- CEO is looking at the number of appointments set or calls handled. Smiley's numbers are much lower than anyone else's (maybe because her manager did not set expectations, but he doesn't know that). What is she doing all day? He pulls your internet records and sees that you've been online. The root cause of the situation may not be the internet usage, but something that caused them to look into the internet usage. The internet usage is the "official" grounds for termination because it's black and white, there's clear proof, and it's not arguable.

Again, I am very sorry that this happened to you and wish you luck in finding a new job. As others have said, you are probably better off in the long run. When you do find a new job, I would suggest you have a conversation with your supervisor about your specific job expectations and how your success will be measured. I think that conversation will be a lot more beneficial than a handbook. Good luck!

overedge
07-11-2012, 06:49 PM
The root cause of the situation may not be the internet usage, but something that caused them to look into the internet usage. The internet usage is the "official" grounds for termination because it's black and white, there's clear proof, and it's not arguable.


It is arguable if smiley wasn't informed about the policy, or that violating it was grounds for immediate termination.

If there was an employee handbook "floating around" which smiley was never given, but then she was fired on the basis of violating something that was in the handbook - I still say she should consult an employment lawyer.

Smiley0884
07-11-2012, 06:59 PM
It might very well be that there weren't any spare copies, but I don't think anything in there would have saved the OP's job. Be honest: when a handbook says "no personal computer usage," most people will just go with the flow.

My supervisor said she would "dig some up" for myself and the two others that were hired at the same time as me. I don't think it would have saved my job either, but I just wanted to point out to the CEO that not only did I not receive any formal information on company policies, but I didn't receive any formal information in regards to my position, which IMHO, is even worse. In fact when I informed him of this his face dropped and his tone totally changed. He went from smug to awkward/confused.



You don't feel well, let your supervisor know and explain that you're going to be in the loo for a while, but you're okay.

Heh, IBS doesn't really work that way...sometimes I can feel it coming, and other times I think I'm just going for a quick 5min bathroom trip...and it turns into a 40 min bathroom trip....:scream: I informed her of my situation, without being TMI, and she was very understanding about it.


Want to check your email on company computer - ask your supervisor, not the slacker one cube over.

I learned my lesson on that one for sure. To be fair, many of the people who were using the internet for personal reasons were top performers, not "slackers".


If the supervisor gives out the wrong information, you have a case to argue when the CEO blows his top. Performance goals should be to learn your job and do it well. Observe others and see what they do, including the supervisor. If you have free time, ask the supervisor if there's something else you could be doing. It's smart to be proactive and hard-working.

There was no opportunity to observe our supervisor, since she was constantly running around like a headless chicken, and when she was in her office, it's not like I could just waltz into her office and "watch" what she does. I did however take the time to observe the senior people in the department I was working in. However, working in marketing, for me it *is* important for to have a set standard of performance goals. For some companies 80 contacts is their minimum per day, and others it's 150. I was also doing a lot of emailing back and forth. I've never worked for a company that didn't give their new employees something tangible, in writing in regards to performance expectations. It's really off putting to be questioned about performance, when you don't know what your supervisor expects of you. It all just seemed so arbitrary.


Just reading the OP's posts, my take on the situation is that they hired a person they hoped would shake up their existing staff that coasts by day-to-day and they instead got someone who wanted to keep the status quo.

They got someone who wanted to excel, but was appalled by the lack of communication, unprofessionalism, and disorganization. I was only there for three weeks, and still adjusting to the position. To make matters more confusing, for a week and a half of those three weeks, I was constantly being pulled from my desk to help the admin team with faxing, since two of their employees were on vacation. Clearly this was all for the best, as this company just wasn't a good fit for me. I prefer structure, and clearly there wasn't much, if any at this company.

FigureSpins
07-11-2012, 07:08 PM
If it's any consolation, your testimony about the disorganized supervisor probably put her in for a reprimand from the CEO. I don't think he could fire her for mismanagement, but he can write her up and create an action plan for her to fulfill. If he stops paying attention though, it would be a moot point unless he follows through.


Clearly this was all for the best, as this company just wasn't a good fit for me. I prefer structure, and clearly there wasn't much, if any at this company.

That's a really great point: I work best when I have some breathing space. I can improvise, set my own goals and basically manage my management, but that's not for everyone. I can go weeks without talking to my boss unless there's an issue. My DH is the guy who'll think "I need a call log sheet" and make one up, give it to the supervisor and see it being implemented across the office. (He takes credit, regardless of whether or not it's given.) We work well without supervision and it makes the office a nicer place.

If you need quantitative measurements to achieve, you could have told your supervisor (again, an email will suffice) that your goal is to handle "150 appointments/calls per day." I would suspect that the supervisor barely knows if that's a good objective or not, but it demonstrates that you can set goals rather than waiting for someone else to do it for you.

I remember receiving a performance appraisal which stated that my objective was "X lines of COBOL/month."
I've never used COBOL, although 90% of the office at the time did, but it was just a stock form, so I crossed it out and wrote in my own objective. You have to be capable of setting your own goals, especially after someone questions your productivity.

Sorry that you had this happen. It's an opportunity to investigate companies better before/during the interview.

Smiley0884
07-11-2012, 07:14 PM
In my opinion, you rarely if ever get a full set of written rules, and even if you do, the unwritten rules are normally more important. It's a valuable professional skill to be able to perceive and navigate the unwritten rules and company culture.

Agreed. I actually thought I had a good handle on that. It was pretty much a laid back, anything goes as long as you do your work situation. Supervisors didn't liked to be "bothered" too much outside of scheduled check-ins, so they expected you to be very independent and do things "by the seat of your pants" type of deal. That's why it was so shocking that I was fired with out any sort of warning or write-up. Usually egregious things like stealing, harassment, rudeness to a client, ect. are grounds for immediate termination...for a place that would continuously pat themselves on the back for being "laid-back" they sure didn't handle my situation that way!


Smiley, I am very sorry that this happened to you. I suspect that the real gap in understanding may have been with how you would be evaluated. Did you have objectives or performance goals?

No, and that was my biggest gripe with the company. I did ask my supervisor about that and she basically avoided my question.


Hypothetical scenario here -- CEO is looking at the number of appointments set or calls handled. Smiley's numbers are much lower than anyone else's (maybe because her manager did not set expectations, but he doesn't know that). What is she doing all day? He pulls your internet records and sees that you've been online. The root cause of the situation may not be the internet usage, but something that caused them to look into the internet usage. The internet usage is the "official" grounds for termination because it's black and white, there's clear proof, and it's not arguable.

To further complicate the situation, there were times when I wasn't making calls because I was asked to help the admin team with faxing. The more I think about the situation, the more it sounds like one big pile of miscommunication between the CEO and my supervisor.


Again, I am very sorry that this happened to you and wish you luck in finding a new job. As others have said, you are probably better off in the long run. When you do find a new job, I would suggest you have a conversation with your supervisor about your specific job expectations and how your success will be measured. I think that conversation will be a lot more beneficial than a handbook. Good luck!

Thanks for the advice!