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  • Hello, help please Massachusetts

    Hello

    I am still in my four year probationary period, have less than a year before I am fully vetted. There is a lot going on here and a couple of incidents so please bear with me. I was recently demoted because two people said they felt uncomfortable working around me. And then recently, yesterday i found out one of the persons who made this claim (a female) has done this before, made those claims. And that claim was dismissed. I was never informed of this when the accusation was made. I never got my union invloved because i thought it was very obvious that she lied. I had a problem with this employee because she lied to me, in an email which can be documented. HR never gave me the benefit of the doubt and I was considered to be wrong. The other person who made a claim broke down and cried in front of me for no reason, this person was upset because I was promoted over him, and then a week or so later when we had a discussion that he didn't agree with he went and told my superiors (sent an email) that he felt uncomfortable around me -- so they demoted me for the two incidents. I have great work history, no bad marks here, spotless record, merit pay increase at one point. Honorable service in military. There is more -- About a year ago I was at my former superiors house with my wife and son, at a non-work event/party -- and noticed a marijuana plant. He has since retired and I took his job, but his friends and one person in particular who was at this party have been harassing me. And I think they spoke to the HR person behind my back. One person basically made my life miserable after I saw this plant -- she saw me take a picture of it. For the past year she has harassed, threatened, and intimidated me. And I think because she is a grad, and the HR person is a grad, that I am being set up. She has gone to my boss and spoke bad about me. I was named project manager for a project and she interfered the whole time, slowed things down deliberately interfered. I went to my boss and told her at one point that i thought she had it out for me, i didn't tell her because i saw this plant. But I knew.

    I just want to know if there is something I can do. i was told i might have a whistle blower case for the pot plant and the harassment. But that was just over a year ago and I'm not sure. I feel like if I go to my boss and lay it all out that she will have to go to HR and then I'm screwed. I spoke to the union lawyer and she said I might have a whistleblower case, but my former boss (the guy who had the plant) worked with the union lawyer when he was a union rep and I'm not sure she is impartial.

    Any advice is appreciated, thank you in advance for taking the time to read

  • #2
    I'm not sure what course of action you think you have because you saw a plant at someone's house who no longer even works there and about which, you never made any complaint or report. It is a non-issue. Even if others assume you took some sort of action over it or saw you take a picture and want to hold that against you, there isn't a law which covers this or prohibits it.

    If two employees have reported they are uncomfortable working with you, then yes, you can be demoted. It doesn't matter if you feel they are justified in feeling this way or not. They do. They both independently made reports. Your employer is allowed to act on that. It doesn't matter that one previously reported someone else. That does not mean she can never feel that way about another coworker again. Even as a supervisor, I can see one employee having a personality conflict or what have you but when a second comes forward, it is a problem. It doesn't mean the one complained about did anything illegal or even wrong but it does present a problem when multiple coworkers are uncomfortable.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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    • #3
      A four-year probationary period? That seems unbelievably excessive (I've heard of 30 days, 60 days and 90 days, nothing anywhere near four years!)...what kind of job is this anyway? Also, why did you take a picture of the pot plant?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ElleMD View Post
        I'm not sure what course of action you think you have because you saw a plant at someone's house who no longer even works there and about which, you never made any complaint or report. It is a non-issue. Even if others assume you took some sort of action over it or saw you take a picture and want to hold that against you, there isn't a law which covers this or prohibits it.

        If two employees have reported they are uncomfortable working with you, then yes, you can be demoted. It doesn't matter if you feel they are justified in feeling this way or not. They do. They both independently made reports. Your employer is allowed to act on that. It doesn't matter that one previously reported someone else. That does not mean she can never feel that way about another coworker again. Even as a supervisor, I can see one employee having a personality conflict or what have you but when a second comes forward, it is a problem. It doesn't mean the one complained about did anything illegal or even wrong but it does present a problem when multiple coworkers are uncomfortable.
        First off thank you for taking the time. He does still work there as a contarcted instructor. At the house and or party there was all kinds of work property we observed. If that matters.

        Does it matter, or should it matter that the person had made 'false' accusations in the past, that were 'unfounded' and then they held this incident against me? Then it was compounded when the next guy made his claim? They never gave me a chance to explain what happened with him, it was assumed since it was reported once, that it must be me.

        Just asking for clarification, thank you for the time.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by eerelations View Post
          A four-year probationary period? That seems unbelievably excessive (I've heard of 30 days, 60 days and 90 days, nothing anywhere near four years!)...what kind of job is this anyway? Also, why did you take a picture of the pot plant?
          Yeah, it is excessive. I took a picture in all honestly because we thought it was funny and was going to send him a Christmas card. That was the honest reason. never knew I had the picture actually until stuff got ugly at work and I was cleaning out my work computer. Then, my wife and I started connecting (or we think) the dots from when I started being harassed. And ironically, right after I saw the plant and took a picture I started being harassed. Thank you for taking time to respond.

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          • #6
            ETA -- Of course I knew the picture was taken -- when i say i never new the picture existed that is because it was forgotten about. Never thought about it again, until recently. And then we started connecting dots and.... here I am

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            • #7
              No, it doesn't make any difference.

              And I'm not seeing a whistleblowing case - what whistle did you blow?
              The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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              • #8
                Agreed. Also, in the US there is no such thing as a generic whistleblower law. One instead has to find a very specific law that their employer is violating, the very specific law usually must offer specific whistleblower protection and the employee must support a claim that they are being punished for doing exactly what the specific law says they were supposed to do. Most federal whistleblower laws effect federal employees only The following is from Wikipedia:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistle...#United_States

                Under most federal whistleblower statutes, in order to be considered a whistleblower in the United States, the federal employee must have reason to believe his or her employer has violated some law, rule or regulation; testify or commence a legal proceeding on the legally protected matter; or refuse to violate the law.
                In cases where whistleblowing on a specified topic is protected by statute, U.S. courts have generally held that such whistleblowers are protected from retaliation.[30] However, a closely divided U.S. Supreme Court decision, Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006) held that the First Amendment free speech guarantees for government employees do not protect disclosures made within the scope of the employees' duties.
                Whistleblowing in the U.S. is affected by a complex patchwork of contradictory laws.
                "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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                • #9
                  OP...a 4-5 year probationary period is very odd unless you mean some sort of public sector teacher tenure situation....might or might not help if you clued us in as to nature of employment and what the probation is all about . So far it does not seem to add up as important ....

                  ganging up on a potential tattletale or shunning same or otherwise frustrating the work environment is not necessarily illegal unless it is along some age, sex, race or other prohibited grounds. And that's not a point you raised.

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