How To Report an Unethical Store Manager?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about dishonest manager(?):

I work for a chain of 12 health food stores in Florida. Our store manager is the most unsavory fellow I’ve ever come across.*He has borrowed $400 from a woman in the deli (we get paid $7.75/hr. while he’s on salary) and has, of to date, only paid back $20. *He refused to hire a special needs woman who has volunteered for the past three years here bagging groceries, on the grounds she ‘might hurt herself’! He never went to corporate office on this one. *He cooks the daily/weekly sales totals. *He lies about raises to long-term employees. *He gave his friend a manager title in the deli..passing over the woman he borrowed the money from. *Him and his friend have been soliciting customers to write the corporate office, praising their assets to the company. He’s quite a scumbag in my eyes. Unfortunately, there’s a clique going on with the manager’s supervisor and HR. Should I go to the corporate 24 hour ethics hotline or to EEOC or what?

Signed, Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

You should contact the 24 hours ethics hotline about these issues. As a reminder, if you really want something to be done other than just having it looked into and then things go back to normal, you should provide investigative information. For example, you should provide the names, dates, times and witnesses of anything that is significant. Just saying it in a general sense often results in an attitude that a disgruntled employee is griping but that is all there is to it.  In fact, sometimes that gets sympathy for the manager. I realize that some things may point directly to you and your knowledge, so you may need to conceal some aspects of it. But, if you really want something done, that is the only way.

Also keep in mind that some issues or actions may seem unfair but are not in violation of corporate policies or procedures. For example, the fact that someone borrowed money from an employee seems problematic to me. But, the fact that the employee didn’t get promoted to department manager may have been the correct decision. (Think how it would appear if a less capable person became the department manager just because she loaned money to the store manager?)

As for soliciting praise from customers, that also is not unusual. Consider how many times people ask you to fill out surveys if you liked the service you received? Motels often ask friendly customers to send in positive letters and reviews.¬† So, that doesn’t make your manager a scumbag, just someone who is trying to look good to his bosses.The matter of the hiring the special needs person is a shame and I’m sorry it didn’t happen. But, a store manager is not obligated to hire someone just because that person has volunteered in the past.

That is why a manager is a manager–they can make decisions that affect the whole store and the profit and loss margin of the store. Lying about raises may or may not be wrong-doing, according to the circumstances.

My point is that out of all the things you mention, only borrowing money and not returning it and your accusation about falsifying store statistics seems to be inappropriate or outside his authority as a manager. He may be as bad as you say, but the results of the investigation may not be significant enough to result in changes. You mention the clique that supports your manager and that brings up one more thing: He apparently has some supporters and perhaps encouragers. If your store is doing well financially and he is achieving what corporate wants, he is probably considered just fine by those at the top. The only way to shake that is if an investigation shows that he is in violation of policies or that he is lying about the figures–and that would seem to me to be very difficult for him to pull off over time in a corporate situation. If you have evidence of that, you probably could get the strong attention of corporate no matter how many people support him. I can tell you don’t like your manager and probably dislike working for him. It may be though that you will either have to tolerate him or do as Dr. Gorden says and “vote with your feet” by leaving. If you decide to stay, make it your goal to focus on your work, how you do it and how you interact with those you care about as well as with customers. You may not be able to change the other things, but you can at least enjoy the time there more. And, over time, hopefully the truth about your manager will come out and he will be removed or be forced to change his ways. The bottom line is that I think you should start with getting your evidence together then contacting the hot line. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens since it may be helpful to others. Best wishes to you with this.

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.