2008 and 2009 were interesting years for this young woman. She put her head down coached the two highest producing sales teams , headed the United Way Fund raiser for the office, (which won the award for the entire region as the office that raised the most money for United Way), traveled extensively and became certified as a trainer then traveled to train managers and contract people to be ready in the event of a pending strike due to a year long negotiation between management and the union.
She was married to her high school sweetheart, a marriage that was unraveling as many very young marriages do exacerbated in part by the fact that her boss insisted that if she were unable to travel it would put her job at risk albeit none of the other 6 managers were asked to travel. During these two years she was called in for the following reasons:
1. She had lost weight , down from 190 lbs to a slim 160. She was told that the boss lady was not going to have her prancing around in high heels. She looked nice after having lost weight but she was attracting the wrong kind of attention wearing high heels. So she started wearing flats.
2. Albeit her teams were delivering the top sales numbers she was being too nice to them. It was not a personality contest. Just because everybody liked her she had to understand that these people would throw her under the bus at the drop of a hat so quit being so nice.
3. She was being secretive because she did not discuss her personal life with the other managers and her boss so she was not being part of the team and refused to sit in the break room for several hours a day with the other managers.
4. She was causing problems for other managers because their team members were coming to her with questions when they were unable to find their managers because as the reps put it, “the breakfast club” was in session in the manager’s break room. She was not to help people who were not on her team they were to be told that they would have to wait and ask their manager when they were available.
5. Two different male reps were called into the boss’s office and asked if they were having an affair with her. She wasn’t having any affairs, she was in the middle of a divorce that she had filed in Nov. of 2009. She had told no one at the office.
6. She was accused of being 3 to 5 minutes late on several occasions and lying about it. A check of the security key card records showed that in fact she had been late once for a total of four minutes when the weather was extremely bad and streets icy. When she explained that she was unable to get there because the school and daycare had opened a few minutes late due to icy weather she was told by this lovely lady that her kids were not the problem of the company and she would be written up for being late if it happened again and would show a pattern of lateness.
7. It had been reported that she had been seen in the car with an Hispanic man who was not her husband. It had been her uncle who was in town for the holidays and had picked her up for lunch albeit he was not Hispanic. This sparked another witch hunt with her boss asking other employees in the hall if they ever saw her outside of work. People started coming to my candidate asking her why this nutty woman was obsessed with what she was doing outside of work.
8. She was told that she was making the other managers look bad because if there were disagreements among the reps as to how something should be done she was going to the written policies and printing them out for her reps who then showed reps on other teams the written policy thus proving that the other manager was wrong so to quit printing them out.
9. She was called in and told that it had been reported that her facebook page was unprofessional and had pictures on it that were taken in the office which was against the code of professional conduct as no pictures of anything in the office were allowed to go outside. The pictures on her facebook page were one of her with her two little boys in front of a fireplace and one of her in a car wearing sunglasses that was just a head shot. Rather than make an issue of it she took her facebook page down and cancelled her facebook account after the profile being up for about three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Just after Thanksgiving her boss's sister-in-law who also worked in the same office came to this young lady and told her to watch her back. Over Thanksgiving dinner the boss had made the comment to her sister and her sister-in-law that this young woman thought she was going someplace with the company but..she wasn't. The sister-in-law told the young woman that she didn't know why but the boss was out to get her, she thought it was jealousy and the fact that the boss had not been able to break her and make her quit.
When she came to my office in tears asking for advice about what she should do I suggested to her that it might be time to look for another job as it appeared to me that for some reason , nutzella did not like her and was obviously on a quest to either make her quit or find a reason to fire her. My candidate indicated that she loved the company and loved her job, was very close to being the only manager with a college degree and wanted to try and hang on until she could finish her degree and/or transfer out to another job within the company. She was trying to get her divorce over with, move from an apartment into a home that she wanted to buy then be in a position to apply for other jobs within the company.
Ok, my suggestion was that she take steps to apply for other positions within the company and might try letting her boss know that she was getting a divorce as perhaps my candidate might be stressed with a divorce going on and two small children in the mix. Let her boss know that if she seemed secretive it was because she didn’t want to bring her personal problems into the office but to explain to the boss that nobody was having any affairs, neither she nor her ex. He was not happy about the divorce because she was the bread winner in the family and he was throwing a serious fit that he might have to pay child support so if there were some strange gossip filtering into the office in this small a town it could certainly be the soon to be ex doing what soon to be ex’s do when they realize they are going to have to support themselves and pay child support.
Well, in hindsight what I thought and she agreed might be good advice and perhaps stop some of the craziness and witch hunting simply started a whole new chapter and sent the gossip mongering lunatic into full tilt boogie.
Stand by for Part III It brings new meaning to sexual harassment , retaliation, discrimination, bullying and every other obnoxious thing a boss can do to an empl
Some years back, among other clients that retained us, we did some marketing for employment related law firms. So this story or its variations upon a theme, unfortunately, is not unfamiliar. Someone has it in for someone, and so the ball starts rolling. At one point it is not just employment issues but also civil rights issues that deserve legal consideration. The company has significant legal concerns about contradicting the employment of its own written policy and arbitrarily determining correct behavior involving social media and extra-work activities. There seems to be sexual discrimination and perhaps a hint of racial prejudice, as well. This appears, at least as far as Chapter Two, to be one of those times when it would not be superfluous litigation but a genuine violation of an employee's rights.
My candidate is a white female age 27, single parent. Don't think there is any racial prejudice involved in this one. Who knows why anything was brought up about the race of someone she was seen in the car with unless it was just part of a witch hunt.
Employment litigation in Texas and for that matter any state is an expensive, time and emotion consuming undertaking, which even if someone prevails will give future employers pause even if the plaintiff is 100% right on all counts. Not right by reasonable thinking standards but in a city of 200,000 the business community is small and gun shy of people who file lawsuits against previous employers. Employees in Texas have the right to show up and be abused without much recourse unless a supervisor hits them with a chair. Particularly a young, white attractive female.
Yes, that was what I was referring to, the guy in the car. So odd that they would even bring that up. Aside from the obvious, on the part of the management, that alone is outrageously stupid.
I well understand your point about litigation in a small town in Texas. Makes perfect sense. The law firms I knew first had to believe it was a good case, and if so, the would take it on contingency. But I guess it's not the case everywhere. Which makes your story even more poignant. A--she has to put up with that crap. And B-she has no real recourse.
As a side note, the best employment attorneys avoid prolonged litigation by drawing up the lawsuit, often on Friday, and sending it over to the employer with the admonition that Monday morning the suit gets filed. No calling, requesting arbitration, mediation, compensation. Here's the paperwork, come Monday it's in the courts. Almost invariably, provided the case is valid, it's the employer on the phone begging for more time, asking for mediation, wanting to settle. Go away and settlement money is cheaper for them than going to court. And, before a jury, possibly losing.
A perfect example of this was the Bill O' Reilly suit where his former producer claimed sexual harassment. I wouldn't venture into the details of that case only that the suit was drawn up and presented to Fox legal. The suit settled well in the millions. After that size settlement, working of course was not the former producer's greatest concern. For Fox, it was probably the better deal than going to court. If accusations were true and the jury ruled in the plaintiff's favor, his ratings could drop through the floor and the advertising revenue right along with it. A few million is a cheap price to pay. If the suit was legitimate.
Correct, not much recourse. Even if an attorney felt it were a good case and would take it on contingency the contingency arrangements normally call for expenses to be paid by the plaintiff. When a young person who lives from paycheck to paycheck has no job, family is helping to pay the rent unfortunately trying to take a legal route is rarely doable. A good attorney would probably look at this one and say, "yes it is outrageous but can we prove anything, probably not. She could probably go to the EEOC. They would most probably say, "We won't pursue it but here is a letter giving you permission to sue now if you want to move forward go find an attorney." A letter to sue is sometimes pretty easy but finding an attorney who wants to try an "i said, she said" case in the Texas courts regarding employment relagates those without funds to the court of no recourse.
It would have been nice if O'Reilly had been her boss or if she lived in California this crap would never have happened and the supervisor would be gone but he wasn't and she lives in Texas.