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Washington State: Hostile Work Environment

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  • Washington State: Hostile Work Environment

    Thanks in advance for any responses you can give. I'll try to summarize the facts without getting too wordy. Please ask if you need clarification.

    Employee (female, about 47 years old) had adequate performance up until about 2 years ago.

    Since then, she is negative and speaking badly of her supervisor to other employees and customers.

    Supervisor never noted any deficiencies or warnings in employee file. Last performance eval in file was 2007. Everything in file is 'positive' to that point.

    Performance declined in 07 and 08, with errors in her work serious enough to warrant her first marginal eval recently, as well as no raise, which she always received before.

    Employee is salaried, exempt, but only puts in about 25 hours of actual work per week, with frequent trips out of the office daily totalling about 3 hours a day including lunch.

    Recently she was discovered doing questionable transactions that weren't against any written policy but were inappropriate at the least. She was warned in writing.

    Now, it has been discovered that she has been ordering personal items through the company for at least 6 months, billed to the company, with payment due by invoice within 30 days. She would receive these personal items, enjoy the terms of the invoice and pay the bill herself at 30 days rather than submitting to Accounts Payable.

    She has heard that her supervisor is looking to fire her, and has made it known to several that she plans to not go down without a fight, citing hostile work environment. He 'basis' is that her boss recently hired his wife's cousin as his Secretary. There is currently no policy against this, although in my opinion it is questionable. She and the boss openly do not get along, and feels threatened that a family member is his assistant.

    Can she possibly have any basis for a fight??? Thanks again...Bob

  • #2
    No. If all the facts you have provided are accurate and if you have provided all the facts, she has no basis for an HWE claim.
    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.

    Comment


    • #3
      Workplace nepotism is not unusual & not illegal in private sector employment as long as discrimination doesn't come into play. (ie employer hiring all male relatives - might be case for gender discrim.) Re public sector employment some city councils and counties have passed anti-nepotism laws.

      However; based on what you posted, I see no HWE or illegal discrimination.
      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.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you for the replies so far. To give some more context, I am a supervisor of another department and privy to all employee issues, as well as an owner of the company (minority shareholder)...my concern is that this go away without this affecting me financially as in prolonged lawsuit to the company that employs me and is essentially my retirement. She knows that we are looking for ways to oust her and is planning a fight. My thought is to remove her authorities, demote her, and let her implode on her own over time. Not sure if that's necessary though if there is no real harm in letting her go.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Bob Davis View Post
          Thank you for the replies so far. To give some more context, I am a supervisor of another department and privy to all employee issues, as well as an owner of the company (minority shareholder)...my concern is that this go away without this affecting me financially as in prolonged lawsuit to the company that employs me and is essentially my retirement. She knows that we are looking for ways to oust her and is planning a fight. My thought is to remove her authorities, demote her, and let her implode on her own over time. Not sure if that's necessary though if there is no real harm in letting her go.
          I'm not a legal contributor to this site and mostly ask questions because I don't know too much, and you probably don't want opinions, but it sounds like your company is an absolute tire fire. Spend more time planning on making your company successful than planning your employees' demise.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by mrzippy View Post
            it sounds like your company is an absolute tire fire. Spend more time planning on making your company successful than planning your employees' demise.
            Little harsh, don't you think?
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              Sometimes you have no choice but to terminate an employee.
              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.

              Comment


              • #8
                Another option you have is to give her 1-3 mos of severance pay, agree not to protest her UI, and have her sign a global employment release.

                Yes, it goes against every fiber of my being to reward bad employees or troublemakers, but in the long run, it is a very inexpensive solution to a long and protracted lawsuit.

                Just a thought.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mrzippy View Post
                  I'm not a legal contributor to this site and mostly ask questions because I don't know too much, and you probably don't want opinions, but it sounds like your company is an absolute tire fire. Spend more time planning on making your company successful than planning your employees' demise.
                  Really awesome input. Unbelievably helpful. Wow. You've outdone yourself.


                  To everyone else, thanks for the responses. I appreciate the advice. Our company is one of the few of it's type that are still profitable in the state and our constant vigilance has helped it remain that way. By weeding out the employees that are detrimental to our performance and quite possibly your financial well being if you live in the state, we feel that we are doing our job of keeping the company from becoming a 'tire fire'. Thanks again.
                  Last edited by Bob Davis; 12-15-2009, 07:42 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You're welcome.
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bob Davis View Post
                      Really awesome input. Unbelievably helpful. Wow. You've outdone yourself.


                      To everyone else, thanks for the responses. I appreciate the advice. Our company is one of the few of it's type that are still profitable in the state and our constant vigilance has helped it remain that way. By weeding out the employees that are detrimental to our performance and quite possibly your financial well being if you live in the state, we feel that we are doing our job of keeping the company from becoming a 'tire fire'. Thanks again.
                      Sorry, man. But if you're looking to weed out the employees that you hired, that's on you. Sounds like you've made a lot of bad business decisions in hiring. Sounds like a management problem to me. You need to give your employees the tools to succeed if you want to be a successful manager. Looks to me that you gave them the tools to fail.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
                        Little harsh, don't you think?
                        Didn't think so. Sometimes love is tough. When you admit the following... "She knows that we are looking for ways to oust her," that company seems like a mess. Just oust her if you want. Why do you have to look for a reason? Bob is trying to avoid a lawsuit, in my opinion.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Of course, Bob is trying to avoid a lawsuit, Bob would not be a prudent manager if he didn't. Second-guessing the actions of the employer in this case was not helpful.
                          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                          • #14
                            I would think all employers would like to avoid a lawsuit if possible.
                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              BTW--for posters who do not do business in WA state, let me tell you they have their own special quirks. And that is putting it nicely. I have substantial operations in both CA and WA and in some cases (w/c and UI) Washington is SO EMPLOYEE FRIENDLY!!!! it makes it almost impossible for a business to run profitably.

                              I would rather do w/c and UI in CA. (Their w/c system is insane!)

                              I would rather do meal periods/breaks in WA

                              One final thought--we all hire "bad" employees. We don't do it on purpose. Sometimes it is a bad interview process, sometimes out of desperation, sometimes trying to do someone a favor. We all do it. The credit to an HR dept and the organization is how they deal with that employee. Credit to Bob--he can see what is coming and is trying to resolve it with as little disruption to his organization as possible. Good luck.

                              Comment

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