Suspended For Texting

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about suspension:

I have been suspended for texting a colleague who was suspended at the time I sent the texts. None of the texts are related to her reasons for being suspended. However, my colleague disclosed the texts as part of her case as she thought this would help her. I am now facing allegations of ‘Demonstrating unprofessional and unacceptable behaviour’.

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

Now you see why your colleague has problems–she certainly has no discretion or sense of loyalty. The issue for you is, can your organization prove your text messages were unprofessional and showed unacceptable behavior. You know what you texted, so you can look at them and at the rules and decide if a reasonable person would think they were problematic. Or, it could be that you sent the texts on company time and they were negative, which doubles the issue.If you made a negative remark about anything related to work, it could be viewed as encouraging a suspended employee in some way. As it apparently did, since she used the text.

When someone is suspended or in trouble, the most that should be sent as a message is, “I’m sorry about what is happening and am hoping for a quick and positive resolution for you. Take care.” You couldn’t get in trouble for that. But anything else seems like you’re encouraging wrong-doing. Your best action now is to be ready to explain your actions and show that there was nothing unprofessional about your texts, nor did you know it was a problem to send a text to someone who is suspended. You should probably prepare a written statement about it, if you haven’t already done so. That way your manager will have documentation and you don’t have to worry that what you say won’t be passed along correctly.If you have always done well on your evalutions and are generally considered to be a strong and positive member of the team, point that out.I wish there was a magical way to get you through this without any discomfort. However, the fact that you are now suspended doesn’t mean you will be found guilty of wrong-doing. It just means they don’t want you present while they are investigating and deciding what to do.

It also is a way to send a strong message to others to stay focused on their own work.If it appears that your job may be in jeopardy, you may want to get an attorney or at least contact an attorney for a consultation about it.If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens. We’ll be interested in the outcome and hoping this gets resolved well.

Tina Lewis Rowe