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FMLA use created Hostile Work Enviroment/Retaliation Florida

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  • FMLA use created Hostile Work Enviroment/Retaliation Florida

    Here is the situation. I have been working as a sales person for this large company for over 7 years. For the longest time they were a great employer. It helps that I always was, and I currently am, one of their very best sales reps (we have hundreds of reps, and I came in 2nd this year). My parents are both elderly, and recently my mother has become very ill. I was approved for FMLA so I could help my parents (neither of them should be driving, and they are constantly going to the doctors; she is now in a nursing home).

    Initially, I did not use the FMLA very much, then the past year I had to take off a lot of time to assist my parents. This is when all of the problems started at work. This year, I was up for an independant national sales award as the number one sales person in my category - my company has to nominate me for this award. Based on the criteria of how the person has been selected in ALL THE PAST YEARS, I should have been nominated, even my manager said so, even his boss said I should have been nominated. But, of course it went to someone else who had LESS numbers than I did (he had about half the sales volumn that I did).

    Another situation was towards the end of the year. With about a month to go in the year, I was in first place in sales volumn (not bad after needing to take off many weeks from work to help my parents); but it is always a close race and the 2nd place person was not far behind. As sales reps, we work on a rotational basis when people come in to our sales center, like in a car dealership. With only a few weeks left to go, my turn in the rotation was shut down. There were several days I went home without a turn. At the same time, the #2 person got several turns a day. Further, the #2 person was said to be bragging that the head of sales, 3 levels above her boss, was helping the #2 person win. The bottom line is, I did not get the first place award and it caused me to loose out on several $1,000's.

    This was very hurtful to me. With everything that was going on it was very stressful to have to deal with this, my parents health, and the stress it was causing at home. While I had taken off more time at the end of the year to help my mother, my manager called me and told me that I may not be allowed to attend the end of the year awards party because of all the time I had taken off, so I needed to get back to work. I became very angry with him and he backed off. But it was said....

    Recently, an article was printed by the company for national distribution to its employees. In the article, I was totally humiliated by something written by a manager in the company (I do not want to get into details here as it will very much give away my identity, but I can offer them in a pm). At first, I ignored it and assumed it was a mistake or sloppy work. Then, a couple of weeks after the article was printed, another sales rep bragged to one of my friends that it was done intentionally by the manager who wrote it who is also friends with this sales rep. I have been to HR over all of these situations. I have told HR that I want the sales rep fired for what she did/said. So far, HR has taken no action. As I said, there is much more dirt with this particular situation, but I cannot go into it here.

    In summary, I have other co-workers that have been harrassed and sworn at for using their FMLA by their managers. I don't know what to do, but I cannot continue to work in this enviroment. It is creating so much stress in my life, at home, with my health, etc. Its just not fair, I am one of their top sales people. Even after taking time off using FMLA I still sell more then almost every rep in the company. Anyone else reading this might say to get a job with another company, which I may have to do. But its not that easy. I don't think its fair that I should have to start all over just because of their hostility towards FMLA.

    Please help.

  • #2
    I see lots of issues in your post that raise red flags.....Since HR has done nothing to fix the situation and you feel the retaliation is ongoing, your best bet is to talk with the DOL about the FMLA abuse/retaliation by the employer. If they retaliate further or fire you for doing so, you would have a solid retaliation claim..it might even fall under whistleblower laws.

    http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs77b.htm

    However, you do not have the right generally to demand HR fire another employee. They have to stop the retaliation from happening (and it sounds like it is ongoing). If they do not, they will be found liable. But that still doesn't mean they have to fire anyone of those retaliating. Would it be to their advantage to do so? Possibly.

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    • #3
      by the way...

      First and foremost, thank you for such a quick response.

      The fact is that company management has taken the approach, across the board, to retaliate against employees who use FMLA. I have friends who work in other department who have been in 'team' sales meetings where their manager ripped into them for using FMLA in front of other members of their team. The company enviroment as a whole is very hostile to those who need to use FMLA. Unfortunately, management is also VERY arrogant and I know they will find other more subtile/subjective, but very effective ways to retaliate, especially if it is someone who turns them into DOL.
      Last edited by hostileworkplace; 03-20-2013, 10:06 AM.

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      • #4
        Keep in mind that it is not illegal for the sales rep's friend who is a manager to do things to support the sales rep instead of you. I agree with the other poster that you don't get to decide who gets fired.

        I don't see this as a clear cut case of retaliation but as the other poster said, you can file a complaint and see where it goes.

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        • #5
          Thank you HRinMA for your input. Yes, I have been advised to back off asking to have the other sales rep fired, so I have. But to be clear, the 'manager' who assisted the other sales rep is not a 'manager', per se, but is in charge of the entire company's sales team, literally 100's of employees. This is undoubtably not a duty he would perform on a regular basis, if ever! Although I know it is a subjective argument, I personally don't feel that the help that was given was intended to help the other sales rep as much as it was to make sure I did not win 1st place. And the recent history of actions they have made against me supports that to some degree, don't you think?

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          • #6
            Update...

            I received a notification regarding a response to my thread - but it is not showing up here. No matter, I wanted to update those that have followed and or commented on this thread on what other information I have found. As you can see from other "hostile work environment" threads in Labor Law Talk, many just refer to a a** for a manager... No law against it unfortunately. Hard to legislate against stupidity, but then again, its impossible to fix stupidity. Most of the comments I have received about my situation, both from those on Labor Law Talk and in the outside world (including a lawyer), have said that my situation is borderline/possible grounds for a lawsuit, except for one thing, DAMAGES. It seems that we can be treated very badly at work, but until they actually fire us for using FMLA, or in other cases, when we don't submit to their sexual harassment, Damages are very hard to assess. Lawyers want their courtroom assessment of damages to be simpler. Being fired means I am without my $100,000++ a year job and that makes for clear damages. Great!? Until that happens I am expected to continue to go to work, be harassed and humiliated, and what ever else they want to do, even though I not only do my job, but I am the best they have at my job, ridiculous.

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            • #7
              There was probably a spammer who posted in your thread, and that message has been deleted.
              I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!

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              • #8
                There was a spammer - at least one that I remember/saw.
                Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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