Workplace catch 22

This is a discussion on Workplace catch 22 within the Employment and Labor Law Questions forums, part of the Legal Questions & Answers Forum category; Hi. I'm in California. The short version: Management up to district management at my job encourages and engages in policy violations. You are not given the tools to succeed at ...

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  1. #1
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    Workplace catch 22

    Hi. I'm in California.

    The short version:

    Management up to district management at my job encourages and engages in policy violations. You are not given the tools to succeed at your job if you do not engage and you are treated to a harsh workplace environment until you are fired for performance issues. If you do engage, you can be fired for engaging. I have been retaliated against for reporting the violations, placed on a corrective action that was groundless. After proving that management was aware that the allegation was groundless, HR had it retracted to a lesser degree of action (but I'm still considered to have committed the act I disproved). If I get fired for the policy violations they promote, I can be ineligible to work in my field forever and cannot receive unemployment. I am also concerned that management will simply conjure up a new allegation and if I get fired for it, I can also potentially be ineligible to work in my field. I can quit due to the circumstances and petition for unemployment but don't want to do so without legal grounds to challenge if my employer disputes it. I have solid proof that management was aware that their allegations were false within minutes of issuing the corrective action.


    The long version:


    I work for a company in a district where policy violations are the norm. Management both supports and encourages these violations and even engages in them themselves. The tricky part is, all workplace training and documentation indicates that you can be subject to disciplinary action if you break these policies up to and including termination of your employment. So while you are expected to break these policies and the work place is built around breaking these policies, you can be terminated for doing so which has happened to employees when the right person finds out or the company's reputation is compromised.

    The logical option of simply refusing to break the policy results in a receiving of harsher working conditions and being denied necessary avenues that you need in order to complete the job. Basically, many resources the company promises you upon hire are no longer available to you until you inevitably lose your job due to failure to perform.

    I have reported a number of these violations but haven't seen much change and on top of that, management has placed a number of sanctions on me in order to impede me from reporting these violations. This has all been done with the blessing of the district manager. When I continued to report these violations and refrain from committing them, I was suddenly placed on a corrective action for committing an act that I did not do. After demonstrating multiple times undeniably to management that the allegations were not true and giving management an opportunity to correct themselves, they chose, instead, to carry on as if they were true and fabricated a new set of specifics to add to the charge. After the district manager reinforced their allegation claiming that he was "sure they were true" I finally was able to get the action rescinded through HR when management was unable to present their supposed evidence (their initial evidence was proved faulty by me within minutes after I was placed on corrective action).

    Now the district manager wants to move ME to a different location because my manager "can't handle me." Essentially, because my manager was unable to successfully intimidate me into complacent silence. Even though I had done nothing wrong.

    I'm sorry for the long explanation but it is really complicated and I can elaborate where need be but here is the summary of my concern, as I'm sure it seems it's been addressed by HR...

    1: Can my district manager move me because my immediate manager struggles to break policy with me in the location?

    2: I know the simple answer is "look for another job" but obviously I need the income. Now that my employer has proven that they will fabricate situations in order to take actions against me, I now am concerned that they will simply create a new allegation that will be harder to disprove so that I can be fired.

    3: If I am fired for the policy violations, I cannot get unemployment. If I am fired due to a false allegation (ex: if they had fired me for what they pretended I did) I would not be eligible for unemployment due to it being a "willful violation" of company policy. If I simply wait and get fired for not being able to perform my job (due to not being given my resources) I will also be ineligible for unemployment.

    4: If I am fired by my employer for certain reasons (acts of dishonesty in the financial industry), I can be ineligible to work in my field forever. And now that they are stooping to creating allegations that they now are false, this is a huge concern.

    I know that if I quit, I can make a case for unemployment due to the situation but I don't want to do that if I have no legal grounds to stand on if they decide to challenge it.

    Everywhere I turn, recourse is only present if they discriminate against a protected status (race, gender, etc.) but I can't believe that an employer can ask you to break their rules and then fire you for it or for not doing it in order to essentially have a pool of firable employees that they can terminate without them getting unemployement.

    Again, I'm sorry this is so long.


  2. #2
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    Aargh! Your post was painfully and unnecessarily long. Just skimming it caused eye strain! In the future, if you want anyone to critically read what you write, you need to edit with the reader’s viewpoint in mind. Brevity is a virtue.

    With that said, from what I can gather your employer disciplines and even discharges employees for reporting violations of its own company policies. While this practice appears rather non-productive, if not idiotic, your employer does not violate the law by enforcing non-productive, idiotic policies. If you are an employee at will, your employer can discipline or terminate you for any reason (as long as said reason does not violate a law or a contract). Inherent inconsistency and/or unfairness are not necessarily unlawful.

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    My apologies! I will be brief from now on...

    My major question is this:

    I am aware that running a company poorly is not against the law. But in my situation, doing so carries more consequences than just unlikable working conditions. Management has demonstrated that they will fabricate circumstances in order to discipline me over them in retaliation for attempting to report policy violations and if they fabricate certain types of circumstances I run the risk of not only being ineligible for unemployment but being ineligible to work in my industry ever again let alone being faced with criminal charges. Is there any grounds for any action based on that?

    Again, sorry for the initial length!

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    No, there is not. In fact, many companies operate like that regularly. You are expendable.

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    Hmmm... So if they say I committed a dishonest act when I, in fact, did not and I lose my bonding, that's just a risk I run by working there? They can just adversely effect my ability to work in the field ever again and it's cool? No limits? They can simply say I stole $50K and have me arrested and it's fine because I'm their employee?

    Hmmm... I feel like that's a little ridiculous. But if that's how it is, oh well. That sucks.

  6. #6
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    If your employer makes a wholly fabricated, slanderous claim against you causing you to lose your ability to secure a bond or otherwise rendering you ineligible for future employment, then you may very well have a potential claim against the employer for defamation.

    However, as I gleaned from your initial post, the employer did not accuse you of theft or some other crime. Instead, it appeared (at least to me) as if the employer had established various internal policies, you reported violations of said policies (presumably by other employees) and then your employer turned on you for reporting said violations. In my opinion, this scenario is a far cry from falsely accusing someone of a crime. As stated earlier, if your employer has disciplined or discharged you for reporting violations of its policies, then you likely would not have any legal recourse to challenge its adverse actions against you.

    With that said, if you are aware of individuals committing actual crimes at your job, it would behoove you to report them to the police or the appropriate regulatory agency or agencies. By reporting purported criminal violations to the authorities, you may inure a measure of protection from workplace retaliation. In contrast, for the most part, internal reporting of on the job misconduct does not provide a comparable level of legal protection from retaliation.

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    Thank you so much for that reply. It has helped me immensely.

    I know my initial post was long so I'll reiterate one element... Yes, my employer turned on me, but in doing so they have written me up for something I didn't do in retaliation (being on the work premises during off-hours) and have maintained my guilt even though I can prove 100% undeniably that they are aware that this is a false allegation they have put forth. They had written me up for it and after weeks of fighting, I hot HR to have them reverse it. They have, instead, instituted a lesser action but still maintain my guilt while they know I have done no such thing.

    My worry is that if they choose to falsify another claim, I could lose my job and be ineligible for UI benefits due to the nature of the accusation. Also, I do work with cash and management has access to that. They have already demonstrated they will falsify claims. I am worried about their next step. If I remain on the job, I am subjecting myself to whatever false claims they wish to make.


 

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