Submitting A Grievance

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about grievance of bullying:

My son has been bullied in the work place by his immediate line manager over a period of 6 months. She has criticized him for petty things during his training period as a member of a Management Options Scheme. She has also disciplined him in a locked room empowered by another manager without giving him even a verbal warning that was going to happen. This has happened twice now and he has been made to feel totally unsupported by other staff members who he thought were his friends at a higher level that have known this line manager for longer and have sided with her. I don’t know if his line manager to get her own way fed them information that was incorrect, but they should have known better than to carry out these disciplines. He is now nearly 21 and has been working at the store since he was 16.5 years.

They saw a potential manager in him and fast tracked him after 9 months. Training him on the kiosk and then customer services and then onto the deli counters which is a large department. He did extremely well at the 2-week training at another store and was getting on very well in his job until his line manager was doing something against the health and safety policy and my son during an audit was asked to show the products being used. As a consequence she got into trouble and since then has had in for my son. He has been off work now since August and has been advised to write up a grievance by the union member who is helping him now, but that was about 6 weeks ago. He has a planned meeting with the New Store Manager and the HR boss, who he has had 3 home visits to see about his help. He has been putting in sick notes that have said he is off with work related stress. Please could you advise us of what he can expect from the meeting tomorrow, and is it best to hand in the grievance today ahead of the meeting or hand it in at the meeting?

Signed, Worried Mother

Dear Worried Mother:

I’m sure it is difficult for you to see your son off from work since August; that’s more than three months. His absences, you say are explained as stress related. To be away from work for that long can evolve into emotional turmoil and depression, but to your immediate questions: What should your son expect at the meeting with the New Store Manager and HR boss? And should he turn in the grievance today ahead of he meeting? Likely the new manager and HR will ask question about why your son has not been working, unless he was laid off. Also they probably are eager to settle whatever they think is unresolved; that he be fired or quits. So they might have already made a decision to either re-instate him in the same or different position for a probationary period or to explore if there are grievance reasons that would make firing difficult.

I assume that your son has followed the union representative’s advice in preparing a write up of his grievance; if not he should. Retaliation probably is an issue for reporting “his line manager was doing something against the health and safety policy and my son during an audit was asked to show the products being used.” And the union should advise your son about to whom and when it should be submitted; also the union should be informed that your son has been summoned to meet with the new store manager and HR. Possibly there will be company policy that suggests a union rep should or should be present in such a meeting. All this will depend on how strong is the union, and it history of resolving grievances.

Our site does not provide legal advice, but it seems that some might be needed. Should your son submit the grievance today? That will hinge on the advice of the union. Because apparently no formal grievance has been entered before this time, I assume that this coming meeting is the appropriate time to present it and to be prepared to be questioned about it. The union rep should tell your son how such a meeting should be conducted in the interest of the employee. That is to suggest that possibly all that should happened as this meeting is a request for an investigation and that your son, during that time, being given employment. The company, for which your son has worked, probably has policies about dealing with grievance investigation and your son should be informed as to how they are conducted. At the meeting HR should speak to this. If as you say your son at one time was seen to have potential, he must have had good evaluations during his four plus years working in different jobs with them. It would be good if he could have several copies of these made. As of now, it seems to me that your son should be engaged in either additional schooling or some form of employment. Being unemployed not only fails to bring in a paycheck, but can affect one’s sense of self worth. Has he had support and/or counseling?

Finally, there might be more going on than what your son knows. Hopefully, he will not come to be a victim of lies and/or mistaken perception. But he should be prepared to face misunderstandings and different views of what transpired, after all what happened occurred several months ago. Also hopefully he can maintain his cool and a professional optimism about a positive outcome until this is resolved. He is young and you, without over-mothering and endlessly obsessing over this detour on his career path, can be a stabilizing support. Possibly my associate workplace doctor, Tina Lewis Rowe, will add you my comments. She is the wisest woman I know about workplace matters. You and your son might find her site of special inspiration and wisdom. To access that, simply click on her name on our home page. Work is hard enough without such frustrations that your son has and is experiencing. Learning to cope sometimes is best learned when things go wrong, and they often do. Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Think about what that might apply in this situation, and keep us posted.

William Gorden