How Can I Stop Union Slandering?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about union slander:

The Union is slandering me as a manager. I just recently gave a letter of counsel to a union employee. Two days later the union files a harassment case against me. I know the facts will demonstrate my innocence. But, what steps can I take as a manager to stop the union from bullying, defaming, slandering and harassing me as a manager?

Signed, Protecting Myself

Dear Protecting Myself:

We are a workplace communications site rather than a site that handles issues about something as serious as this might potentially be. We also are not attorneys, so we don’t have information about the legal issues. However, I can provide a bit of insight that might be helpful to you at this point.

As a manager you represent the company for which you work. The union represents the employee. You did what you were supposed to do as a manager by counseling an employee about a problem–probably with the approval or even the direction of your higher level manager.The Union does what it is supposed to do as a representative of the employee–try to present the employee in the best light. In this case, by saying you are harassing the employee unfairly.

You say the union filed a harassment case against you. I don’t think you meant they have filed a civil lawsuit but rather that they have filed a grievance. The result is that it will be investigated. You also say you are sure you will be shown to be innocent of any wrongdoing. If that is so, nothing will come of the grievance. But, even if it does, you were acting on behalf of the company and the company will likely support your actions. I don’t know the circumstances or what the company reaction will be, but you should check on that if you have any questions.I agree that it can seem that union grievances are bullying, defaming, slandering and harassing to a manager. However, I doubt such a claim would ever be upheld, unless they stated something so outrageous it would destroy your career. For example, if they said you took money under the table to harass the employee. Or, that you have done something criminal as part of this situation.There are many thousands of grievances every year and probably most managers feel as upset as you do. However, the bottom line is that most of them are simply part of what I see as the sometimes nasty process of back and forth between unions and organizations.Talk to your own manager about the grievance or the case, according to what is happening.

If you feel you need legal assistance ask about that. Review your paperwork and be prepared to respond to questions about the situation. But, keep in mind that the company has as much at stake as you do and they should be representing you in this matter. Don’t do anything, even respond to a phone call about this, without talking to someone involved with handling the grievance. As I said, we do not have labor-organization expertise and are not attorneys, so there may be something we are not telling you that you need to know. But, at least you can know that you are not in this alone, since you were acting on behalf of the company and presumably with their approval and even their direction.Best wishes as this works itself out. If you have the time and wish to do so let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.