Was This An Inappropriate Comment?

 Question: to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being accused of making an inappropriate comment.

At the end of a workday I was riding down in an elevator with a female coworker and a high level male manager (I am male). After the female coworker exited the elevator and as we continued down in the elevator, I remarked to the manager that that was a very appropriate color dress she was wearing today (It was Halloween and the coworker was wearing a bright orange dress). The manager replied back to me that that was a very inappropriate comment that I had just made. The remainder of the elevator ride was silent. I’m sensitive and aware of workplace issues regarding sexual harassment, but was my comment really inappropriate? read more

Can False Allegations Be Investigated Twice?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a false allegation: Can my agency re-investigate me for the same allegation, even if there is no additional evidence?

I was the subject of false allegations by a subordinate as retaliation for a disciplinary action. I was cleared of the allegation. However, my law enforcement agency allows accusers to remain anonymous. The accuser has been recently dismissed by the agency and I am concerned that he is going to make the same allegations. Can my agency re-investigate me for the same allegation, even if there is no additional evidence? read more

Am I Being Written Up By My Boss?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about :

How can I tell if I am being investigated or written up by HR, for personality or work related issues? I think I am but I’m not sure.

Signed, Confused

Dear Confused:

Ask your boss or supervisor or ask HR. Tell them you are worried but don’t know if you’re getting written up or not. It won’t be a secret much longer, because you’ll be told about it. But, it would be good to find out exactly what you did that caused the write-up and see if you can also find out how to avoid it in the future. Best wishes to you! read more

Not Taught The Right Way

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about insubordination:

My boss told me today I was being insubordinate when I asked for help with a procedure I was only trained to do once before my coworker left the company two weeks ago.She asked me why I didn’t “get it” when I was shown by a coworker. She did not know and told me there was no one else in the dept. that knew either. She did not want to help me.

Signed, Untrained

Dear Untrained:

Probably your boss thought you were insubordinate because of some sarcastic or angry remark you made, rather than because you didn’t know how to do a procedure. Hopefully you can start over with your boss by approaching this problem a bit differently. read more

Written Warning

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about written warning:

Does a written warning need to be signed? How long between warnings is valid when unaware of a second warning being given?

Signed, My Signature

Dear My Signature:

Your questions about warnings add to the many we have gotten. In short, we’ve advised that signing a warning indicates you have seen it, not that you agree with it. Being shown a warning provides an opportunity to respond to it by apologizing and/or composing an explanation that might be inserted with it where it is filed. read more

Pro and Cons Stress Debriefing

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a critical incident:

Critical incident stress debriefings and the value they provided in the workplace?

Signed, Advice?

Dear Advice?:

Please explain more fully what motivates this question. Is this academic or prompted by real incidents?

William Gorden

Should We Fire Over Threat To Supervisor

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being sent home: I have spoke to the supervisor and 2 other witnesses who saw the altercation when the supervisor asked the employee to clock out and leave.

I had a situation yesterday where a supervisor had sent one of her employees home because he was responding to her in a volatile way and used curse words. He called her on her personal cell phone that night cursing at her and threatened to kill her. There is not proof of this threat other than the phone records showing his number called her. Now she is afraid for her life and has made a police report. She will not return to work as long as he is here. What are my options as HR to terminate the person who made the threat? I have spoke to the supervisor and 2 other witnesses who saw the altercation when the supervisor asked the employee to clock out and leave. I have written statements from them and the supervisor. Help! read more

Tenant restroom left a mess

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about unsanitary conditions: each day there are wads of toilet paper on the floor, un-flushed toilets, menstrual and fecal mess smeared on the toilets and walls, etc.

I work for the company that owns the business building we’re in. On a tenant floor, ever since a new tenant moved in, the women’s restroom is left a mess daily. Despite several email reminders to all tenants (this email is sent to all as to not point fingers) on proper restroom etiquette and hygiene, each day there are wads of toilet paper on the floor, un-flushed toilets, menstrual and fecal mess smeared on the toilets and walls, etc. Other tenants are having to go to other floors to use the restroom, as it’s disgusting and they also don’t want their own guests dealing with the mess. I’ve tried emails to the tenants, checking who’s going into the restroom via our key-card system log, etc…but nothing seems to work as it’s a high-traffic bathroom. The tenant employs many “young” staff, and several seem to be making these messes. Before I discuss with our own HR staff to see what they think we should do, I’m asking you! Thanks, I look forward to hearing from you. read more

Does Manager Have to Give Reason for Drug Test?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about drug testing:

I am a GM for a restaurant inside a retail store. One of my employees showed me pictures of another employee doing drugs. HR wants me to send them for a drug screen. Do I have to explain to him why I am sending him if he asks?

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

Labor laws or state labor department regulations about drug tests vary from state to state. Many do not require an explanation to an employee, even if the test is not random, but others do. Your HR section would most likely know the state law about it. I realize you might prefer to not have to ask them, but you’d be better off doing so than being in error and creating a liability concern. One way to ask without giving the impression of having no knowledge at all, would be to ask, “I’m going to talk to Kevin when he arrives at work but I wanted to make sure I follow the company protocol about the terminology I use. What is the standard statement to an employee in a case like this?” You may also want to ask them if they have a protocol for a manager’s response if the employee refuses to take the drug screen, since that may happen in this case! Best wishes to you with this situation. read more

Can I Be Fired For Lying In An Investigation?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about lying:

I work in retail where a customer phoned the shop complaining about my colleague how he has no idea what he’s talking about and how he needs to be trained. I apologized for what happened but told him that my colleague had said the right thing by directing him to customer service. The customer then told me I didn’t know what I was talking about and that I need training. Out of frustration I said “If that’s the case maybe you should apply for a job as a trainer and train us.” The customer asked for the manager and asked me my name. I told him I was the shop floor manager at the time and gave a name of the assistant manager who had left the company. The customer made the complaint and in the investigation I denied I said any of those things as I was scared I would lose my job. So, my manager said she will do a follow up as to what happened. At the second interview I started saying the same thing as before, but then I put my hands up and said “OK, I did say those things.” Then I explained that I was in a bad state of mind with family issues and the reason I lied in the investigation was because I was scared I would lose my job. Now my manager says she will pass it on to case management and let me know. I’m really worried. Do you think I could get fired? read more