This Can’t Be Legal!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss who cheats the company and doesn’t assign work to this employee.

I am in a construction type of business and our “boss” scale is kind of weird. We have our main boss, whom we call, and he tells us if there’re any jobs going on and if so where we go. There are some sales men who are above this guy that we don’t deal with too much. Then there’s our “number 2” boss, who is under the first one, and handles things when the main one is out of town. Both of my “bosses” are supposed to work and do the same type of stuff that the rest of us do. Except obviously they handle our paper work and talk to the contractors about what’s going on and stuff.

Now for where my problem comes in: this “number 2 boss” will do nothing, but “paper work” all day and he says his brother (a sales man who is above both of my bosses) said he is just supposed to deal with the paper work. OK, no matter whatever I say, but this same boss will also claim overtime hours when he is not working at times. I’ve heard up to 30 hours of OT and he will file for mileage when he goes on vacation (a lot of times to places he has never been, just so that he still collects a pay check); we get mileage depending on where we work and how far, but no matter where this guy goes, he claims mileage and his brother approves of it.

I know it’s not just rumors either because I have seen the paperwork he has filled out for places we aren’t supposed to get mileage for. I know getting paid for OT you don’t even work, mileage/expenses for places that we aren’t supposed to get for, getting paid for work when he’s sitting at home doing nothing can’t be legal. He has some kind of discrimination towards me because no matter what job he runs he will not allow me to work in the same place, so a lot of times other people get work while I have to sit home and collect unemployment. The only thing I can think of why he is discriminates towards me is cause I am the biggest guy, the tallest/fattest. This is a worldwide corporation and it’s not owned by his brother or anything. Any kind of help would be appreciated.

Signed, Big Guy

Dear Big Guy:

Your problem is not legal. You can’t prove not assigning you to jobs because of your physical size is discrimination. Discrimination refers to special classes based on mistreatment because of age, sexual orientation, race, national origin and disability. Even if size, such as weight, were the reason for management favoring one over another in hiring or by unequal treatment, it is hard to prove.

Of course being paid for work not done and for miles drive not authorized by management is cheating.Your beef about your number two boss probably will not be corrected unless you or someone else reports his cheating and is brother who okays it (and can prove it) to upper management or Human Resources. Making such a complaint is risky even if the evidence of this is firm. But a complaint can prompt an investigation of such a practice; it is wrong just as is being paid for working off the clock. You don’t say what you have done about what you think is unfairness in assignment of work.

Have you spoken to your second and/or primary boss? Have you demonstrated that you are reliable, skilled and of good spirited? Or have you rather gossiped about mistreatment to coworkers and your family? The hard fact is that much within life and the workplace is not fair. Begging or complaining about that does some good but rarely enough. That’s why unions have been formed and why they negotiate working conditions and pay. Without the voice of a labor, managers and bosses do what they can.

I wish I could send you a sure-fire suggestion for the problems you see; however, the best I can do is to recommend:

–Review your performance and acquire the skills that make you wanted in construction. This might entail getting training in trades related such as electrical, plumbing, heating/air conditioning, and many related specialties such as siding, windows, roofing, concrete, bricklaying. Interior design, etc.

–Confer with your bosses about how they evaluate your work and register your desire to be more fully employed.

–Study your employing company and related ones. Get to know the business. You say you work for a world-wide corporation. If so, it should offer a wide range of opportunities for different kinds of work. Learn to know its products and needs. How well is it doing?

Now that construction is working its way out of a slump, what is your company doing? In short, I’m suggesting that you look beyond your complaint about not being assigned jobs to see the big picture. Might you check into its job postings? Have you consulted with Human Resources about a career path within this firm?

What I’m suggesting is that you get past sore thoughts about assignments by:

First, voice your desire for more work and taking on more responsibility.

Second, see your work as not just a job, but as a career within your company.

Third, develop your skills.

Fourth, work on yourself. You acknowledge you are a big guy. But saying that is an indicator that you realize your physical condition matters. I sense that using this as an excuse is not something you like to admit nor is it a something you want to become more of a problem. Shaping up is something that all of us need to do; young or old, tall or short, thin or heavy.

We know procrastination can only be licked by a definite plan to work on the body and mind. I am interested in learning if any of these suggestions ring true for you. If so feel free to let me know soon or later. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. By that, I mean good things don’t happen for any of us unless we act and act for the good of both others and ourselves.

William Gorden