Targeting Specific Employees

Question:

My collegues and I feel discriminated against at my workplace. Is it right for a manager to pick certain people out of an office workplace and monitor them on tardiness, by creating a “in/out” sign-in sheet folder for only the certain individuals she FEELS are tardy?

Signed,

Feeling Discriminated Against


Answer:

DearĀ Feeling Discriminated Against:

It certainly does not seem to be creating a very positive environment to make only a few employees sign in and out! However, that would not legally be discriminatory unless only people in a protected group (race, gender, etc.) were the ones required to do it, and others were not. And, if no work related cause could be shown, or no employee action could justify it.

If your company is large enough, this might be a matter to discuss with HR or others. If there is someone over you boss, perhaps that person should be made aware of it. However, I think the best approach would be to talk directly to the boss and negotiate a different arrangement.

Your boss apparently feels that you and a few of your co-workers need to be monitored more than others. You know the history of that, and know whether the concern is justified or not. Your boss decided–or was told–that instead of getting a time clock or sign-in/out sheet for everyone, only those most likely to be late will be monitored.

If you can show that you have not been late and not left early, that might create a change. If you have, in fact, been late more than some others, or left early more than some others, you might at least be able to ask that this process not be used after say, a month, if you can show that it isn’t necessary any longer.

You know best if you have a relationship where you can talk to your boss. I hope you do! If so, mention your good work history and ask that this practice be changed, in order to help you and the others feel much more positive than you now do.

Keep this mind as well: Sometimes these sign-in/sign out processes are implemented as a better choice than firing someone for being late, or for lying about check-out time. The thought is that, without the sign-in sheet, some employees with bad habits will be late and may eventually end up being dismissed. With the sign-in sheet it forces the development of the habit of being on time. It is felt that both the employer and the employee will be better off.

If there was a lateness problem I think this could have been handled better by warning you and the others when the problem first started, then taking appropriate organizational action. That way there would have had to be an investigation of some kind and you could have proven you were not late, or the boss could prove that you were. But at least it would be out in the open. (However, it might have been more punitive that way than using the sign-in sheet!)

I’m sure it’s frustrating. I think the key to a solution is to find a way where your boss believes you and the others not only don’t need a sign-in sheet to ensure you are at work on time, but also that you will feel better about work without the monitoring–especially since it is not applied to everyone. You know your boss and the work best, so perhaps you and your co-workers can determine a way to put things back to a better situation.

Best wishes!

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.