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If they fire you, can you fight back?

niftydrifty

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My wife works in a private organization. she is midlevel, people report to her and she reports to other people. there's a slacker person in the org that doesn't report to my wife, but that isn't over her, either. slacker also has a mid-level position. although slacker has a full time position, slacker has been essentially working half-time. it's been going on for many, many months. slacker comes in late, leaves early, and is gone for lunch, often 2-3 hours. this has not gone unnoticed by much of the staff. but, it was going unnoticed by the inattentive manager (IM) whom slacker was reporting to.

so my wife brought the situation to the attention of IM. my wife asked IM to come in, in the morning some time, because my wife was sure that slacker wouldn't be there when slacker was supposed to be, and sure enough, slacker wasn't. but IM did nothing. so then, my wife brought the situation to the director of the library. she didn't notify HR.

but, meanwhile, someone else on staff notifies HR.

today, director indicates that disciplinary action against slacker would be much more work than just letting my wife go. director is annoyed by the situation, doubly so, now that director has also learned that 2-to-3 people are actively seeking employment elsewhere due to all the dysfunction in the place. director has the attitude that letting things go is easier than dealing with them. director said to my wife, "do you have any idea how much paperwork I would have to do, to properly deal with slacker?"

my wife is also disgusted by the dysfunction, but she (ideally) doesn't want to lose her job or leave.

if director fires my wife, imo, it would be wrongly. can she fight back? are there laws against this kinda stuff?
 
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lizzie

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It depends on where you are and who you work for. I've watched this kind of garbage for over 30 years. Keep the a-hole and let the good staff go, because it's the easy route to take. As for their ability to fire your wife, it doesn't sound like there's a reason to. In most places where I have worked, firing someone takes prior disclipinary problems which have been documented. If your wife hasn't had a history of being problematic, there's probably no basis on which to fire her. They probably just want her to ignore the problems she sees and not make waves. It's a shame, but seems to be common. There's a similar problem going on where I work. There's one person causing problems, but she kisses up to managers, while she causes alot of tension among the regular staff. I just do my job, stay out of the personal crap, and get on with my life.
If she does get fired without cause, she may be able to fight it, but at that point will need to decide if it's worth the fight. maybe it is, and maybe not.
 

Jerry

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My wife works in a private organization. she is midlevel, people report to her and she reports to other people. there's a slacker person in the org that doesn't report to my wife, but that isn't over her, either. slacker also has a mid-level position. although slacker has a full time position, slacker has been essentially working half-time. it's been going on for many, many months. slacker comes in late, leaves early, and is gone for lunch, often 2-3 hours. this has not gone unnoticed by much of the staff. but, it was going unnoticed by the inattentive manager (IM) whom slacker was reporting to.

so my wife brought the situation to the attention of IM. my wife asked IM to come in, in the morning some time, because my wife was sure that slacker wouldn't be there when slacker was supposed to be, and sure enough, slacker wasn't. but IM did nothing. so then, my wife brought the situation to the director of the library. she didn't notify HR.

but, meanwhile, someone else on staff notifies HR.

today, director indicates that disciplinary action against slacker would be much more work than just letting my wife go. director is annoyed by the situation, doubly so, now that director has also learned that 2-to-3 people are actively seeking employment elsewhere due to all the dysfunction in the place. director has the attitude that letting things go is easier than dealing with them. director said to my wife, "do you have any idea how much paperwork I would have to do, to properly deal with slacker?"

my wife is also disgusted by the dysfunction, but she (ideally) doesn't want to lose her job or leave.

if director fires my wife, imo, it would be wrongly. can she fight back? are there laws against this kinda stuff?

If they do fire her, make sure they are following their disciplinary/termination policies to the letter. If they are not, then she can file an unemployment claim.
 

niftydrifty

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thanks everyone. she's an at-will employee. this is in Michigan. today, i found this.

"Although an at will employee generally cannot sustain an action for wrongful
termination, Michigan law recognizes that “some grounds for discharging
an employee are so contrary to public policy as to be actionable.”

http://www.michbar.org/journal/pdf/pdf4article1593.pdf

(caution, the link might take a while to open)
 

justabubba

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My wife works in a private organization. she is midlevel, people report to her and she reports to other people. there's a slacker person in the org that doesn't report to my wife, but that isn't over her, either. slacker also has a mid-level position. although slacker has a full time position, slacker has been essentially working half-time. it's been going on for many, many months. slacker comes in late, leaves early, and is gone for lunch, often 2-3 hours. this has not gone unnoticed by much of the staff. but, it was going unnoticed by the inattentive manager (IM) whom slacker was reporting to.

so my wife brought the situation to the attention of IM. my wife asked IM to come in, in the morning some time, because my wife was sure that slacker wouldn't be there when slacker was supposed to be, and sure enough, slacker wasn't. but IM did nothing. so then, my wife brought the situation to the director of the library. she didn't notify HR.

but, meanwhile, someone else on staff notifies HR.

today, director indicates that disciplinary action against slacker would be much more work than just letting my wife go. director is annoyed by the situation, doubly so, now that director has also learned that 2-to-3 people are actively seeking employment elsewhere due to all the dysfunction in the place. director has the attitude that letting things go is easier than dealing with them. director said to my wife, "do you have any idea how much paperwork I would have to do, to properly deal with slacker?"

my wife is also disgusted by the dysfunction, but she (ideally) doesn't want to lose her job or leave.

if director fires my wife, imo, it would be wrongly. can she fight back? are there laws against this kinda stuff?

sorry, but your wife totally misjudged/mishandled this
hope she survives to learn from it
they can fire you wife as an at-will employee, so long as they use a plausible excuse for the termination. in today's economy, all they would need to say is her position was no longer cost effective and hire someone in her position carrying a differnt title
there are no apparent bases under the EEOC provisions to allow her to file an EEOC claim
the only possible help she may have is whatever the organization's personnel manual describes as its process/procedure with terminations. but it is unlikely they would have painted themselves in such a corner within that document - assuming they even have a personnel policy document which was made available to all employees
the only other out is that she is a union employee, but that would be rare for middle managers

let's assume she does not get hurt by trying to expose the slacker. she needs to go about addressing that situation in a totally different way
slacker does not report to her
she does not report to slacker
neither is in the other's chain of command
therefor, what he does should not impact her
now, her employees may see slacker's practices and that he gets away with it and may want to emulate them
she would want to talk to her staff, let them know that she does not have authority over his work practices but she does over theirs and that they are to toe the line she sets
however, if in that kind of situation she hears form the employee directly that they thought they could/should get away with mimicking slacker's poor work habits she should create a memo to the file, which she maintains at work AND sends a copy to have at home (just in case the evidence mysteriously gets 'lost' at work)
that memo to file documents the negative influence of slacker on her work environment
if anyone should later insist that she should have done something her memo for record will document that whie he caused her HR problems, that he was not in her chain prevented her from doing anything about it

but, she intruded where she did not belong
she should mind her own business and that of her employees
not those who are not in her chain of command
she must salute and follow orders, grin and bear it, unless she is dealing with one of her own subordinates
 

niftydrifty

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justabubba, your post is helpful. and you're right in reading most of it. your advice could've come in handy about a month ago. my wife's staff had noticed the behavior of the slacker (also a she) and had questioned how she was able to get away with it. it had gone too far and for too long.

in an interesting twist today, we learned that slacker had gone to the director some time last year, and asked if she could get away with this kind of schedule, due to a family situation, as she had already used up a previous medical leave not long before. director said "sure." months go by. months and months go by. everyone talks about it amongst themselves. my wife brings it to the manager. nothing happens, she brings it to the director. someone else brings it to HR. HR goes to the director, and it seems that HR is on to the director, how his actions were essentially favoritism, and/or illegal. so the crap is hitting the fan this week. the director tells my wife today that her actions in the manner "could be a deal breaker," as far as he is concerned. the inattentive manager indicates to my wife today that she will defend her. everyone in the organization is on my wife's side, except for the director. this should be really interesting. we're totally stressed out and losing sleep.

more soon!
 

Tucker Case

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justabubba, your post is helpful. and you're right in reading most of it. your advice could've come in handy about a month ago. my wife's staff had noticed the behavior of the slacker (also a she) and had questioned how she was able to get away with it. it had gone too far and for too long.

in an interesting twist today, we learned that slacker had gone to the director some time last year, and asked if she could get away with this kind of schedule, due to a family situation, as she had already used up a previous medical leave not long before. director said "sure." months go by. months and months go by. everyone talks about it amongst themselves. my wife brings it to the manager. nothing happens, she brings it to the director. someone else brings it to HR. HR goes to the director, and it seems that HR is on to the director, how his actions were essentially favoritism, and/or illegal. so the crap is hitting the fan this week. the director tells my wife today that her actions in the manner "could be a deal breaker," as far as he is concerned. the inattentive manager indicates to my wife today that she will defend her. everyone in the organization is on my wife's side, except for the director. this should be really interesting. we're totally stressed out and losing sleep.

more soon!

That sucks.

Good luck with everything.
 

Gipper

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At-will notwithstanding, it's still really hard to prove things like this. Don't let the movie Philidelphia fool you; nine times out of ten, he loses that case. Unfair/illegal dismissal may be legal. It may be illegal. It will be hard to prove. Worst case scenario, she gets fired, you threaten under your breath, you settle for a decent pay-off and a non-disclosure agreement, you get another job.
 

Aunt Spiker

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Yes, she can and should fight back - "just because it's easier" is not grounds for dismissal. This is just ****ty management.

Have your wife consider if she really wants to go back to work at a place that didn't value her employment to the point where they just tossed her out willy nilly.

Both of you read up on advice and options and see what can be done:
Fired: How to Handle a Termination or Being Fired
Wrongful Termination - Wrongful Employee Termination, Wrongful Termination Law
Wrongful Termination - Justifiably Claiming Wrongful Termination

Consider taking it to court. Sometimes merely the threat of this is enough to get a job back if termination is absolutely wrongful. . . you're dealing with a childish HR situation - if paperwork is what they want to AVOID then make it less paperwork to re-hire your wife :shrug: That what I would do. Of course this is just speculation - she's not *fire* as of this moment. . . so thinking ahead of "just in case" is good.

But, in the end - I know she needs a job but does she really need *that* stupid job? They devalued her as a person and just tossed her out - that's just not a good work environment.
 
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missypea

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my wife is also disgusted by the dysfunction, but she (ideally) doesn't want to lose her job or leave.

if director fires my wife, imo, it would be wrongly. can she fight back? are there laws against this kinda stuff?

What a horrible situation, Nifty. It sounds like other people are becoming involved....which is a good thing for your wife.

I do know that retaliation against someone for reporting discrimination is illegal. It doesn't sound like your wife reported discrimination but she's definitely being retaliated against by this director. It sounds like more and more details will crop up as this is investigated. Your wife needs to take every precaution and document every detail and each conversation and interaction, in writing.

I'm curious if the slacker worked from home when she wasn't in the office? I ask because when my MIL was so ill, my boss allowed me to work from my MIL's house so that I could be with her and not use my sick/vacation days (FMLA does not extend for MIL). I was out of the office for a month but still working.....It makes me wonder if the perceptions of the people who don't know the slacker's circumstances could have it wrong?

Keep us posted!!!

:2wave:
 

Gipper

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The Japanese have a saying in the business world: The tallest nail gets hammered first.

In other words, corporate rules are the same as lights-out in kindergarten - shut up, eyes forward, hands to yourself, and don't draw attention. Morality is almost never rewarded.
 

niftydrifty

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no developments yet today. the director appears to have been blowing smoke yesterday, but you never know. we'll see.

question, why isn't she activley looking for a better place to work?

she has been for quite a while. read the news lately?
 
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RightinNYC

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If it turns into a larger issue, it might be worth talking to a lawyer about it. Employment cases are incredibly fact-specific and vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but there are probably some people in your area who will give you a consultation without charge.
 

Mell

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Is you wife a member of an employees union? If so, she could contact them.

Here in Germany, there are lawyers people can contact by phone, to get a legal assessment to possibly put pressure on the company with, if they have done something illegal. It is inexpensive. Last time I heard of somebody using them, the assessment cost 20 Euros, and showing it to the HR made the HR back down.

What a nasty company that seems to be, that your wife works for. If they really are going to fire her, then she could ask what type of reference they will give her, so she will hopefully know what they are going to say to future potential employers. Good references are well worth trying to get, no matter what else happens. Maybe, if she handles the situation with care, she can swing that. ie she should not say anything that would make them feel threatened, unless they back her into a corner and refuse to give the reference, or until she finds out for sure what she can fight them with, and hopefully win. Your wife might also be entitled to a severance payment, which she could put her foot down about, if the worse comes to the worst.
 

niftydrifty

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thanks again for your interest and replies, everyone.

It is clear now that the director worked with slacker without properly going through HR. director assumed my wife was the one that notified HR, and felt threatened by it. yesterday his "this might be a deal breaker for you" comment was just smoke, blown by a spineless coward, that is now in a little bit of hot water himself. it'll probably turn into nothing, though.

the inattentive manager assures my wife today that her job is definitely not in jeopardy, but my wife really doesn't want to be employed there any more, along with about a half dozen others.

this occurred at a law school. everyone involved is a lawyer (except for my wife).
 

Mell

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the inattentive manager assures my wife today that her job is definitely not in jeopardy, but my wife really doesn't want to be employed there any more, along with about a half dozen others.

It is certainly understandable that she would want to leave. In her position I would lie low, and then quit when I find another job. If she cant trust them, it will be hell to work there.
 
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