If Sick Should Boss Say, “Go Home?”

Question:

My coworker came to work feeling under the weather. A few hours into his shift, he had vomited. He asked if he could leave early, and my boss told him no. A few minutes later, had had vomited again, and yet my boss still did not let him leave. Is that allowed?

Signed,

Can’t Stomach My Boss

Answer:

Dear Can’t Stomach My Boss:

If you are sick, you are entitled to leave. All the employee is required to do is inform his/her immediate supervisor of their illness and that he/she is leaving. If a medical excuse is required then I suggest that employee get one. What does your employee handbook say? How has your company addressed this issue in the past? Do you have an HR Manager? If so, ask him/her. The real issue is the fostering of good employee relations and this incident directly impacts the supervisor’s trust and value.

Working together is better when trust is earned and given. That’s working in a WEGO spirit.

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Filed Grievance Was Rejected!

Question:

I have filed a grievance against the State office I work for, and have progressed to a Level III complaint. The basis for this grievance is: hostile work environment, discrimination/favoritism/nepotism, as well as a gross inequity of the pay scale. They have denied my grievance at Levels I and II because they feel these instances were not within 10 days of the last grievable occurrence.

I am a 25 year employee with a good work history, a lengthy resume’, and numerous letters of recommendations from co-workers, former directors, and from individuals from the public I serve. I suffered a heart attack, a triple bypass, and an emergency aortic bypass within the last 2 years, and was off work for four months as a result. Since my return to work, I have been having problems with two former union personnel that have been appointed or hired into our office within the last three years. I previously worked with these individuals as members of a Board for which I perform secretarial work. For the last year and a half, I have been threatened numerous times with letters of reprimand for occurrences that other workers are blatantly allowed to perform, and favoritism is the norm. The last instance, I was threatened with disciplinary action. At the direction of the State EEO office, I have also kept notes of the occurrences, the dates they happened, and what words were exchanged, and was advised it was not an EEO matter, but that it needed to be grieved.

I strongly feel that my rights to a serene workplace environment have been challenged. Everyone in the office knows of the situation, and those that have the ability to do something about it, refuse to “get their hands dirty.” As I said, I have grieved the matter, and am scheduled for the Level III grievance. The hostile work environment I have grieved shows numerous recent occurrences with these two individuals that I haven’t done something fast enough to suit them. I am noted throughout the office for meeting or beating deadlines with strong accuracy. In 25 years, I’ve only actually received one letter of reprimand for excessive e-mail at work. That has stopped effective of the receipt of the letter (January, 2002). This letter was to be placed in my personnel file (as well as numerous others who also received the letters). These letters are not in the personnel files, but locked in the Administrative Secretary’s file in her office, I wasn’t aware of this until I questioned it in the Level II grievance hearing.

They allow more leeway with certain employees than others (as far as leave time, pay differentials, etc.) And, I’m sorry, but I’m a good employee and I’m not going to kiss anyone’s butt to get what I deserve in the first place. The pay scales are severely whacked out according to pay grades. For example, I am a pay grade 7 (with 25 years of dedicated service), and there are at least 2 – 3 individuals that are making way over what their pay classifications would normally allow. One is a pay grade 5 (making $4,200 more than the top of her classification); and the other is a pay grade 6 (making $1,900+ over the top of her classification). And, the administrative secretary has in the past provided sexual favors to at least one previous director that I’m aware of that has boosted her salary to a pay grade 13 and nearly $3,000 over the top of her pay classification.

They are currently scrambling to justify merit increases that were given this past summer to the good old boys (because they were given without benefit of written evaluations), as well as distribution of an updated policy by the Division of Personnel dealing with workplace harassment (not necessarily sexual). NONE of this is sexual in nature. They are also working to make sure all of the secretarial staff statewide has completed position descriptions to ensure they are classified, as they should be. But, certain supervisory individuals are also prompting some of these secretaries – namely the pay grade 5 and pay grade 6 individuals – to put certain things in their job descriptions that would enable them to change their classifications to a higher allowance, and I don’t believe all that is reported by the individuals is actually the work they are now performing. It is only to allow them to be moved to a higher pay grade, and assuming so, more pay than they already receive. And I know for a fact, the pay grade 5 does not do more work than I on a daily basis, and she doesn’t possess nearly the qualifications and neither possess the length of seniority that I do. They are undertaking this effort before my grievance has been settled to cover their bases.

The agency feels that they have not violated any of my rights, or any policy, rule or regulation, but in fact they have. We are required to have yearly written evaluations that determine the basis for merit increases, but we have not had these evaluations since 1993. Merit increases are given to the “good old boys” — not whether you perform your job to the utmost expectations.

I feel that either my civil rights or human rights, or some kind of right that I’m unaware of, have been violated. I am not in a position to retain an attorney, and need some kind of direction as to where or what kind of action I can take. Copies of my grievance have also been forwarded to the State Attorney General’s office, and I know from calls that I’ve made, they only deal with Civil Rights.

Can you provide that direction with the information I have presented, or do you need something further?

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Co-worker Left Ugly Mess In Restroom!

Question:

We are on the first floor of a 5-story office building and share a community restroom. Our landlord says some of the other tenants on the first floor have seen one of my co-workers, an older and over weight woman, leave a mess in the ladies restroom. I’m not talking about used paper towels, but urine and fecal matter. She is overweight and has a problem with bending over. I worked with her at another location and when there was a similar complaint, she chimed in with another employee that it was the homeless people who were always hanging around. We have no homeless people at this location. She has left in the middle of the day to go home and change due to accidents before. How do I approach her with this without embarrassing her or offending her? The office manager, who is male, said he would like to handle this, but wants me in the conversation as well because I’ve known her the longest and because he’d like another female in on the meeting. Help!

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If Sick, Can I Be Given A Disciplinary Warning?

Question:

I’ve had 9 days off work due to sickness (1 day in September, 2 days in November and 6 days in December last year). For the sickness in December, I was sent to hospital by one of my managers to get me checked out. I was given a few tests and everything was fine. I went to my doctor the next day. He signed me off work for 2 weeks due to a virus. I have been given a verbal warning for being off sick 3 times in the last 26 weeks. That calculates to 8.5% of my time on the job. Can I be disciplined when being signed by my doctor? I am a night worker and work 32 hrs. a week over 4 nights.

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How Do You Say A Plaque Is Ugly?

Question:

We have a senior engineer who is about to retire from our Company after many years of service. The Company is planning a nice luncheon and has purchased an expensive gift for him. The employees in the Engineering Department want to do something for him from them, so they have collected some money to purchase a fairly expensive watch with GPS, etc.

One of the Engineering Dept employees took it upon him self to also have a plaque made and engraved (from the Eng Dept) that he wants to present to the employee on behalf of the dept and also wants to be reimbursed from the dept employees for the money he has spent. The problem is, everyone thinks the plaque is ugly, cheap looking and very tacky. No one wants to be a part of the plaque, but no one wants to hurt the guy’s feeling that took it upon himself to have his brother make the plaque and seems to think it is a wonderful gift.

How do we get the plaque out of the retirement presentations and avoid hurting the feelings of the person who had it made?

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When Is Clocking In Late Considered Late?

Question:

Is it true that clocking in 7 minutes after the hour is not considered late? Is there a resource for finding this info?

Signed,

Late

Answer:

Dear Late:

No, it is not true. Seven minutes late is just that…late! You are considered tardy and coming in late is a bad habit. You were hired to work from A time to Z time not “around there somewhere.” There is no law regarding tardiness. However, you can be terminated for excessive tardiness. Some companies have a policy in their employee handbook that goes into detail on this subject. For example, three times a month is considered excessive with some companies.

Helping a workplace function is a cooperative productive way hinges on all who work there working as if they owned and managed the place. WEGO is a word that symbolizes that kind of commitment and practice. The Workplace Doctors

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Required Nature Of Illness on Doctor’s Excuse?

Question:

I am from New Jersey and would like to know if it legal for your employer to make you put your nature of illness on a DR’S NOTE??????Is this practice legal???

Signed,

Something Private

Answer:

Dear Something Private:

It is not appropriate for an employer to require a medical excuse from the doctor to indicate the nature of the illness. Employees have specific rights under the Federal Act of 1966 — Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), including the security and confidentiality of medical records and health information. You have the right to notify the physician not to disclose such information (nature of illness) to the employer.

Companies must be in compliance with HIPAA. Fines, penalties and possible jail time can be imposed for noncompliance. You should simply state to your employer that you are withholding this information on the “doctor’s note” as provided by HIPAA. If this does not resolve the matter, consult an attorney. Best of luck. Gerald Allen Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOs.

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Someone Is Out To Get Me!

Question:

I would like the places that I work to be investigated regarding receiving calls and information from someone outside my workplace about me since this has been happening for about 7 years. Who do I contact for this? I believe that I have been blackballed and set up on some occasions because of the person that is doing this. I believe that I have read that this constitutes aggravated harassment. Do you suggest that I get a lawyer?

Signed,

Out To Get Me?

Answer:

Dear Out To Get Me?:

My experience in supervision leads me to believe that rumors filtered into the workplace from outside it, will be treated within the workplace as such- -simply rumor. The information is probably not remembered by the end of the day unless your behavior or work lends it credence. If it will lessen your anxiety, you might mention/confer with your human resource department about your concerns. In doing so, I would not specifically address the rumor(s) verbatim but merely in a general sense. You might also do likewise with your immediate supervisor and ask his/her help in discrediting whatever might have been disseminated.

If you act professionally and do your job with expertise, you probably have little to worry about on this front.

Second Opinion: You asked about having a situation investigated in which you think you may have been set up by someone, over a long period of time. You also asked if you should get an attorney.

If a crime has been committed you don’t need an attorney, because the city or county in which you live would prosecute the matter on your behalf. Try sending a letter with the information that indicates you think a crime has been committed, to the district attorney for your county. In the letter tell them that you think a crime has been committed against you and tell them why. Tell them what damage has resulted from it, if any. Ask for their advice about what you should do next. You will need to show that some aspect of the crime was committed in their county–either you live there, your workplace is there or the suspect–if any–is there. Also give a clear indication that you would cooperate in any investigation and prosecution.

I suggest that action, rather than making a police report immediately, because many officers might not be familiar with the law and would think they couldn’t take a report in such cases. By getting an opinion from the District Attorney’s office first, you know right up front if they would consider prosecuting if a suspect could be identified.

Since I don’t have your original question yet, I don’t know the severity of the problem. It would likely have to be very long-term and severe for a district attorney’s office to be willing to commit staff to prosecute or to support having the police make a report about it and assign a detective to investigate. It would be most helpful if you had a suspect or motive in mind or some possible investigative leads, so that it is seen as a solvable crime.

If you don’t have clear evidence of someone harassing you by contacting your employers about you or by some other means, the case may not be considered for investigation. Even if you do have that proof, it may be considered to not rise to the level of harassment that requires legal intervention. That’s why it’s important to be specific about what has happened and what the negative results have been–either as it relates to your job or if it has had a negative impact on your emotional well-being.

Tina Rowe The Workplace Doctors Until ill facts surface or can be surfaced, focus on working with WEGO in mind.

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What Are The Laws For Punching In and Out?

Question:

In our workplace we are under the assumption that we have up to 30 minutes before our start time to punch the clock without getting in trouble and up to 15 minutes at the end of the day to punch before getting into trouble and OT is this correct. What are the real laws of time clocks and punching in and out before it goes to OT and getting into trouble since there is no OT were I work.

Signed,

Time Conscious

Answer:

Dear Time Conscious:

There are no laws regulating time clocks. The actual issue is this. If you expect to get paid for Overtime, then you are more often than not, required to have the permission of your supervisor. The time before your workday starts is so you are not tardy. They give you the 15 minutes after 8 hours to clean your workstation and yourself without going into overtime. You must work over 40 hours in a seven-day period before you can begin to earn time and a half. I hope this answers your question. If it doesn’t, check your employee handbook or speak with your HR Manager. Good Luck.

Rules are made to so that no matter who you are you will be treated the same as the next person. Fairness is basic to thinking WEGO.

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Brother Committed Suicide And Owes Me!

Question:

I have a dilemma. I worked for my brother and his wife for 10 yrs. The last two years that the business was open, my brother told me to keep track of my hours and still punch in and out on the time clock, and he would pay me what was owed to me. This was in 1999 and 2000. The amount owed is a little over $20,000.00. We didn’t write up anything because, he was my brother.

He closed his business down in 2001. He said that when he sold everything, I’d get my pay. Well, his wife went on another spending spree and no funds were left again. Dave said he’d make good on it; that it just might take awhile. Labor day of this year, my brother committed suicide.

My family really needs that money. Since there was no will, and the business was closed, (a corporation owned by him and his wife), what recourse do I have? Am I stuck feeling ashamed and used, or can I get the money? I was on the books and they used a payroll place, so there is plenty of proof that I worked there. Just that she has the time cards and I have my records, can I collect? Do I have any legal rights?

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