Can Discipline Go Straight To D-day?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about firing without progressive warning:

I am a pharmacist with a big box store. We have a “no technician can eat in the pharmacy” rule. One of my technicians ate a piece of red licorice and was of course recorded on video. She was terminated. I was given a Decision Day because I was the pharmacist on duty when such a serious violation of policy occurred. Normal disciplinary protocol would be a verbal warning, followed by a first written and second written and then the D-Day. Is it fair that I went straight to D-day? Also, if the photo of the candy eating tech standing next to me is “zoomed out”, there is another equally guilty pharmacist on duty beside me who does not get punished. (Reason given was he was the one who reported the violation). Every technician and cashier at my location has eaten candy and had a water bottle in front of every pharmacist for YEARS. Store security even brings us over Eclairs etc at times. Eating has never been an issue but it is rule on the books and we do know about it.Problem is that I feel singled out. I am female, 58 years old, and I have the highest hourly wage of any pharmacist in the district (about $10/hr over new hires), and I really think they want to get me out so they can hire someone less expensive. Feeling unfairly pushed to the edge so the next step is to be fired.

Signed, Singled Out

Dear Singled Out:

Your feeling that management wants to replace you with cheaper help might be accurate. And undoubtedly this feeling makes you anxious about complaining about how the rules are being or not being followed. Therefore, you will have to weigh advice I provide. Most of all you want to hold your head high and maintain your professional status.Some big box stores make the rules and execute them at will because they don’t have unions; unions that hammered out and negotiate reasonable rules of employee behavior and discipline. Exhibit A: The no eat rule that has resulted in the hasty firing of a young employee who ate a red licorice.

Apparently she was not given the three step disciplinary protocol: verbal warning, written warning and D-Day of suspension or firing. You say that because you were on duty and didn’t report her “serious” breaking of the no eat rule that you have been bumped to D-day. In short that could mean, at a next infraction, you can be suspended or fired for good reason in the judgment of management. Unfortunately, even now you can be fired for either a good reason or no reason; unless you work under a union contract your employment is at the will of the management of your big box store. That will not change unless and until workers collective negotiate the rules of their employment. Sorry, but that’s the way it is today in most big box stores and other companies. In light of that, you have some choices before you: · Work scared. Bite your tongue and keep your nose to the grindstone. · Mumble and gossip about those rules and their unfair application. But realize that will likely just sour you and others. · Speak to your manager about fact that you have been disciplined by skipping its customary first two steps. Possibly asking his/her support to reconsider and/or request that the store’s Human Resources investigate.

This might entail a letter requesting an investigation of why the young employee was fired ignoring the three-step protocol and why you were bumped to D-day. · Voice your thoughts about what makes for sensible store rules and their application. Talk candidly with your pharmacy boss and then seek his/her support to engage the store manager in reviewing the rules of the big box. Start by pledging your self to high performance of the pharmacy and then voice your concern for making this big box employee-friendly. · Don’t mention the injustice you feel about your D-Day status, but rather focus on enlisting your manager and coworkers in a concerted effort to make your store operations a glowing success.You may think of other options. But don’t allow this D-day bump to sour you. More than ever you need to be viewed as a responsible cheerful employee. Tell me if these thoughts and my signature sentence make sense and how they apply to your situation: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden