Work Being Allocated Unfairly

Question to Ask theĀ  Workplace Doctors about mal-distribution of commission assignment:

Where I work there is me (a male), Coworker #1, also a male, Ms. C and Mr. T (the manager) Ms. C and Mr. T. are the same ethnicity and he referred her for her position here. They are also very good friends and hang out together whenever they get time.In our business there are two ways work is generated for our group: One way is that clients call in to the call centre and the telephone queue calls through to one of the three of us. Whoever of us handles the call makes the commission for the business that is generated.

The second way, which comprises the bulk of our business, is that requests from clients come to Mr. T., our manager, through E-mail, faxes and telephone applications and he passes it along to the rest of us on the team. Before Ms C’s appointment Coworker #1 and I received a lot of business from Mr T. After Ms. C’s appointment hardly anything was distributed to me and Coworker #1.I complained to management and it was decided that all work from Mr T. must be forward to Team Leaders and they will distribute it fairly to the three of us. That only happened for a couple of days, then it was back to usual and no work was sent to the Team Leaders.

I have complained four times to the Team Leaders but nothing gets done. They end up asking him to send the work through to them, he does for awhile then it goes back to the way it was, with Coworker #1 and I not getting much work and Ms. C. getting most of it. I feel this is unfair distribution of work and also discrimination against me and Coworker #1 because we’re not of the same ethnicity as Ms. C and Mr. T., and we are men instead of women.What is our position and our rights and what steps can I follow to create fairness in the office?

Signed, Losing Money

DearĀ Losing Money:

We’re a workplace communication site rather than a legal site or HR site. So, for that portion of your concern you would need to consult an attorney or research the laws about discrimination in your country (I see you are not from the United States and I’m not familiar with your country’s anti-discrimination regulations or if any aspect of this would come under those regulations.) What you do apart from that will depend upon how concerned you think your company is about not just this, but any issues related to employee complaints or problems. I’ll assume they are interested in having a fair process and that they would not support unfair practices that might cause the loss of employees.

There is also the matter of how comfortable you feel talking to your manager and what is the culture in your work about that. I’ll respond from the perspective that you can express complaints to your manager, Mr. T.

1. Have some figures upon which to base your complaints. For example, how much money did you make before Ms. C. started compared to now? How much total business is generated by the three of you and what percentage is represented by Ms. C.? Are there are facts and figures you could show? If you can show the impact of what is happening, it makes a much better argument than simply showing she is busier. Busy may not mean more money, according to the nature of the work forwarded to her. (Probably it does mean more money, but you need to show that or at least have a good reason to think it.)

2. Could there be some other reason for the increased referrals to Ms. C.? Could it be shown that she handles customers better, has less complaints and generates more business for the company than you and your coworker do? From the viewpoint of managers, they are more concerned about that than how fair it might seem to you. So, consider if Ms. C. is simply a better business-generated than you and the other employee and that’s why she gets more leads.I f you have any information to show that you are a valued resource for clients or that you have generated a large amount of business or had some special succcesses, that could be helpful.3. Could there be some other aspect of the work that leads Mr. T. to refer more business to Ms. C.(or at least that he could use as an excuse)? That is good to consider since that is what he might say, if asked.If you receive performance evaluations, be able to show that you have gotten along well with others, have been a hard worker and have not created problems in other ways.

4. Consider talking to Mr. T. directly about this matter, if you have not done so. Tell him you are being hurt financially and suggest ways for him to distribute the work more fairly or ask him to return to the former way of distributing work. If your coworker (Coworker #1) is concerned as much as you, he should be involved in this as well.

5. Have you talked to Ms. C. about it? It will be important to let her know you are not blaming her for getting the work, you are only concerned that work is distributed fairly. If she has been making more money as a result of the way things are now, her salary will be reduced if things change, so she is directly effected by what happens.

6. Is there an HR section or similar section who you could consult? Or, if you know someone higher who could champion your cause, it might be very helpful.

7. Perhaps as a last resort you could go all the way with your complaints and write a formal letter to the level you think is appropriate, asking for an investigation of how work is allocated. This sounds severe, but is at least an attention getter. At that point you are no longer just complaining and hoping things are better, you are asking for organizational action at a high level. In the United States such an allegation of discrimination would certainly get a response but I don’t know if it would work in the same way there.

8. If those things don’t work you may have to do as Dr. Gorden often suggests, and vote with your feet by finding work where there is less unfairness and a better chance for you to make money.

Best wishes to you with this concern. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

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.