The year 2010 started off for my Candidate when she was called in by her boss in late January to be told that it had been reported that when she took time in Dec. before Christmas to attend her 2nd grader’s Christmas play that she had not gone to the play. My candidate explained that yes she had gone. She had pictures on her cell phone of the play with the date reflected. One of the other managers had a child in the same grade at the same school , they had gone together. She did not come back to the office after the play because she had a retirement luncheon for one of her team who was retiring so the other manager had dropped her off at her car, she had picked up the gift, gone to the luncheon and then returned to the office. She had been out of the office a total of 3 hours for the play and the luncheon. She offered to show her boss the pictures or if necessary to bring a note from her son’s teacher attesting to the fact that she had gone to the second grade play. Her boss told her that would not be necessary she believed her and the boss did recall that the retirement lunch had been scheduled . My candidate told her again that she would be happy to provide proof that she had gone, her boss could ask the other manager and of course the other employees who had attended the luncheon. Her boss again told her that would not be necessary she was satisfied that the report had been untrue.
Thinking that the whole bizarre thing was over, my candidate walked by the other manager’s office and asked him if anybody had said anything to him about her not going to the play. He told her that one of the other managers had asked where she was because he came back and she did not return for another hour and a half. She thought no more of the incident other than to realize that one of her co-workers was obviously watching and reporting any and everything she could think of to the boss. How nice.
Two weeks later she was called in again by her boss, a witness was present to take notes. She was told that she was being written up on a formal violation of the code of business conduct because she had interfered with an investigation. Blown away, she asked what investigation and how had she interfered? She was told that when she asked the manager who had attended the Christmas play with her if anyone had said anything to him she had interfered with the investigation of the report that she had not attended the play.
The conversation went like this:
Boss: You interfered with my investigation of the report that you had taken time off to attend the play and had not gone.
Employee: You asked me about it. I offered to show you pictures with dates and times, told you to call in my co-manager for verification and offered to bring a note from my son’s teacher. You told me it was not necessary you believed me. According to policy you are supposed to tell me if I am the subject of an investigation, you did not. In fact you told me that it was closed you were satisfied that I had gone to the play and attended a retirement lunch. I had no idea that when you told me the issue was closed that there was any kind of investigation as you refused to even look at the pictures I had on my phone. How could I interfere with an investigation if I didn’t know there was one?
Boss: You should know without being told that I will investigate and have to investigate any report of misconduct .
Employee: I asked you if you were satisfied, you told me that you were and it was a closed issue. So if you told me it was closed how could I interfere?
Boss: When you asked your fellow manager if anyone had said anything to him you reopened it.
Employee: So did you determine that I was in fact at the play?
Boss: Yes that was verified but you interfered with my investigation by asking your coworker if anyone said anything to him.
Employee: Let me get this clear, you verified that the report was false after you had told me it was closed and you believed me but even though you told me it was closed you went on to investigate. When you asked my fellow manager if I had said anything to him did you also verify that I had not made any suggestion to him in any way to tell you anything one way or the other. All I said to him was to ask if anyone had said anything to him when he came back to the office.
Boss: That is correct and because you asked him about it you reopened the investigation and you have violated the code of business conduct so this is a formal write up for violation. Additionally, you body language and the look on your face appear to be insubordinate so I will warn you that if you reflect any more attitude by crossing and uncrossing your legs I will expand this to a write up for insubordination.
Employee: My foot is asleep. I am not being insubordinate I am simply blown away by this whole thing. It seems to be one big catch 22. I didn’t do what I was accused of doing. You told me you believed me, you told me it was closed. I had no reason to think there was any investigation going on and now I am being written up for a serious violation of business conduct for interfering with an investigation of something you knew before you investigated that I did not do.
When this young woman showed up in my office again in tears after this mindless mess I asked her if she had shared with her boss that she had filed for divorce, talked with her or tried to about the stress she was under etc. etc.?
Yes, she had told her . I asked how that conversation went. My candidate turned red and said, “This is really embarrassing and I don’t know how to really talk about it.” I told her to try me, as a recruiter I have heard about everything there is to hear. I thought.
When she had told her boss she had filed for divorce her boss immediately wanted to know who she was sleeping with. She was a little shocked but told her she was not sleeping with anyone. Her boss launched into a graphic description of her own sex life, her affair with the UPS driver who delivers to the office while she and her husband were separated. Became more than intrusive in questioning my candidate about her sex life.
My candidate told her that she really didn’t want to discuss all the details of her divorce was seeing a counseling minister and appreciated that although her boss felt she could discuss her own marital problems with her she felt uncomfortable talking about things like that so just wanted her to know what her situation was and if she seemed stressed wanted her boss to know why.
Her boss repeatedly over the next few weeks had called her in to talk to her about how bad divorce was, constantly asked her for details of what was going on , who she was dating, told her she was under a spotlight and had to be careful, pressured her to go to the counselor that the boss had used. My candidate finally told her again that she didn’t want to talk about details. She was happy with the minister at her church that she was talking to and had her children in counseling with a child psychologist to help them with the situation. She was focused on getting the divorce over with, had no intention of reconciling just wanted to focus on her job and her kids.
My candidate talked about how emotional her boss was, she would cry and want to hug her. Then tell her she was like her daughter it was a love –hate relationship and she didn’t know how to manager her.
Realizing that this situation was now past my pay grade to advise anybody about I asked my candidate if she had the option to talk to someone in HR with the company. She indicated that yes she did and she was considering filing an ethics complaint against her boss due to all the weirdness, crying and talking about sex. I suggested she probably should speak with HR and see what they advised.
She did so and was advised that she could arrange to have a meeting with her boss’s boss to discuss the situation. She requested the meeting and was told that the boss’s boss would contact her. The meeting did not take place until March.
In the interim my candidate was called in and told it had been reported that she had used the daughter of one of the reps to babysit for her children. My candidate told the boss the girl she was using to keep her children was the daughter of a fellow who worked at the sheriff’s office, his daughter happened to have the same name as the daughter of one of the reps so no she was not having anyone’s daughter to babysit for her who worked at the company. The boss said, Oh, I see.
A week later my candidate came to work a few minutes early, her boss was in her office at five minutes after eight and said. “Well I hear you had a good time in the bars last night, I hope you feel like working.” My candidate looked at her and said, “I feel fine, a friend of mine and I play volleyball in a city league, we were not playing until late so he picked me up, we stopped by Buffalo Wild Wings got a sandwich and didn’t have a drink because we were on our way to play volleyball. We saw several of the reps come in, they said hello and went to their table. Did not even come to our table but no I was not drinking.
The boss informed her that it had been reported that she had been seen playing pool and she was advised that she was under a spotlight if she was anywhere and any of the reps came in she should be cordial, say hello and immediately leave. My candidate told her it was a small town, she didn’t think that it made much sense to tell a friend that they had to get up and leave a restaurant or anyplace else just because a few of the 170 people who worked in the office came into the same place. Her boss told her to do whatever she thought was wise, the boss was just telling her what she would do. ( From what I have been able to ascertain the only company policy as to fraternizing with other employees is that people in management can not date anyone who reports directly to them.) I asked why this was such a big deal to her boss. I was told, it was just her , she was constantly telling managers and anyone who would listen “Not to get their honey where they got their money”. She was obsessed with rumors of anyone having an affair or who was sleeping with whom and would bring up in management meetings that she had heard so and so were having an affair and had anyone heard anything.
In February another male rep was called in and asked if he was having an affair with my candidate. He told the boss that no he was not , he had talked to when he reported to my candidate about his marital problems, my candidate had advised him to see his priest and to pray about his situation but she couldn’t counsel him. The boss informed him that his wife had called her and told her he was having an affair with my candidate. The guy finished with his meeting went to my candidate and apologized. My candidate told him she had received a call also from his wife on a Sat. morning accusing her of having an affair with him. She had told the wife if he was having an affair it was not with her. The fellow apologized again and told her it would not happen again he was sorry and his wife was way off base. My candidate was not questioned about it and didn’t think much of it other than it was another witch hunt and an upset wife getting a slap in at her husband.
The next week she was called in and told that it had been reported that she was having parties at her apartment inviting some of the reps and there were pictures of the drunken parties. Nope, there were no parties. In fact my candidate had leased a house the previous July, had not lived in an apartment since July of 2009, had not had any parties and if there were any pictures she would like to see them. No pictures were forthcoming and nothing else was said.
The meeting with the boss’s boss finally took place. My candidate explained everything that had happened, indicated that she was ready to file an ethics complaint, she was being targeted, was very uncomfortable about all the sex talk and accusations etc. etc.
The boss’s boss asked her what she wanted. My candidate told her she wanted to be treated with respect, her personal life left alone, no more digging at her about what she was doing outside of work and assured the lady that she was not involved with anyone at the office or for that matter anyone else. She wanted the violation of business conduct removed from her personnel file as she felt it was totally bogus and ridiculous. The boss’s boss asked her to hold off on filing an ethics complaint, let her talk to my candidate’s boss and see if they could get the situation worked out. She would get back to her.
Within a few weeks the boss called her in and told her that she was sorry that she had not given her a written notice of the investigation and in the future if there were another situation she would be sure and do that as she have done so. She would make an effort to be more effective as a boss. They seemed to have a good talk about the gossip and rumors that were instigated by the kind of “investigations” that the boss had with people.
The mess seemed to stop. My candidate reported that things seemed to be going much better.
She had been asked to take over all responsibility for escalated problem calls for the whole region, was being trained on all the fiber installation setups for half of the U.S. and had been designated the subject matter expert for fiber ops and had taken on the responsibility as project manager for the integration of another region into this office location making this office a hub for the Midwest, SW and SE. in addition to managing her sales team. All seemed to be going well, she had been contacted by several managers in other divisions about positions that would be opening up in 2011 that they wanted her to interview for if she was interested. So all looked good on the horizon. Her divorce was finalized in Oct 2010. She had the opportunity to buy the home she was leasing and was looking forward to advancing her career with a new job sometime in 2011. The boss was off her and the nitpicking had stopped along with most of the sex talk.
When she received her copy of her annual evaluation at the end of the year there was no Code of Business Conduct Violation on it regarding the the second grade Christmas Play or her dastardly interference with the investigation. So all looked finally right with the world and there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Stay tuned for an Alfred Hithcock almost ending. Give some thought to anything you can think about as to what might happen next. You will probably be wrong.
Have you ever thought of writing a novel? I think you should, and I'd be first in line to buy it! Nice cliff-hanger, looking forward to next installment. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
Pam, Part iv is further down in the thread. I did a sloppy job of posting this without links to each part. Truth in the world of employment and recruiting seems to be many times not only strange but elusive.
Gordon, would you not love to see this one played out in court with this freakin "hide" being questioned in front of a group of people.
"So, Ms. Whackadoodle, you had an employee who took an hour off to go to her 2nd graders Christmas play but because she didn't come back to the office due to a company luncheon one of your informants came to you and said, "She lied she didn't go to the play". You called her in and asked her about it, she offered you conclusive proof and offered to provide a witness and written verification from another adult not associated with your company, you were satisfied that your employee had gone to the 2nd grade play to the point that you told her providing evidence was not necessary and not to worry about it and closed the issue. Is that correct.
Ms. Whackadoodle: Yes that is correct.
Then Ms. Whackadoodle: You decided in your own twisted mind that even though you had told your employee it was a closed issue you decided to go ask the witness in private rather than ask him when your employee wanted you to do it.
Ms. Whackadoodle: Yes that is correct. I have to investigate any rumor that anyone reports.
You had already investigated and closed the issue with the person involved had you not.
Ms. Whackadoodle: Well yes as far as she knew i had but i felt i wanted to check it with the other person.
So you reopened a closed investigation of a second grade play then did you not?
Ms. Whackadoodle: Well, yes and no. I told her that i had but i wanted to verify just to be sure.
So, actually you lied to your employee by telling her that it was closed when you intended to verify even though you told her it was not necessary.
Ms. Whackadoodle: I have to verify these things.
So when you asked her associate if she went, did he confirm that she was there.
Ms. Whackadoodle: Yes
So you found that the rumor was false is that correct.
Ms. Whackadoodle: Yes, but when i asked the witness i also asked him if she had said anything to him?
Why would you ask that?
Ms. Whackadoodle: Because i always want to know if anyone has interferred with an investigation.
Did you determine that all she said to him was to ask him if anyone had said anything to him?
Ms. Whackadoodle: Yes that was all she said but she is not supposed to interfer.
But she thought is was a closed issue based on what you told her but that was a lie on your part wasn't it, so she would have no way of knowing that there was an ongoing investigation because you refused to accept any proof from her and told her it was unnecessary.
Ms. Whackadoodle: She should know that i always have to investigate.
So what you are telling this court is that you lied to an employee that something was a closed issue, refused to accept proof and told her it was not necessary but you actually reopened the investigation yourself when you decided to verify with another employee who had been there and when you found out that she was telling the truth you decided to write her up on violation of the code of business conduct because she said asked the witness if anyone had said anything to him even though she didn't make any attempt to influence him in any way.
Ms. Whackadoodle is there anything in the code of business conduct relating to lying to an employee, reopening an investigation with out notice after you have told them it was it a closed issue?
Ms. Whackadoodle: I do what i have to do to determine the truth. It's my job.
Thank you Ms. Whackadoodle, you may step down, watch that third step. Oh sorry, are you hurt? Oh yes i know there are only two steps but you should have known that i was lying. I am after all out to prove that you are a blind cow with the intelligence of an earth worm. Thank you for your testimony.
Sandra - HELP where is the Alfred Hitchcock ending.... I'm on pins and needles here....
I LOVE your style and sense of humor!!