I’ve been with my current employer for 18 years. More than a year ago I was accused of sabotaging company equipment by the foreman’s friend. I confronted the foreman about the accusation and said this should be dealt with because it was untrue and I have e-mails to prove it. He said nothing would be done about it.
The accusation was serious and I could be fired if upper management heard about it. I told him I would go over his head, and we argued. The next day I called in sick.
But someone saw what happened, told upper management, the general manager called me at home and we scheduled a meeting. When I spoke to the general manager it was found that I did not sabotage any equipment.
Now the foreman is convinced I complained to upper management, which I did not, and is making my life a living hell at work. He has threatened to fire me, given me bad raise reviews and written me up for things I did not do. What do I do?
THE FIRST ANSWER
Howatt HR Consulting, Kentville, N.S.
Clearly, you believe you are not being treated fairly. Any change in your current situation will depend on your conviction and willingness to take action. If you are in a union environment, you could speak with a shop steward.
But even in a non-union environment, you have options. One option is to call a meeting with your foreman. Set the agenda and make clear your concerns, the issues, the impact on you, and what you want. If he is dismissive or is not willing to find a resolution, you could take your concerns to the general manager. Hopefully, he will listen, collect the facts and look for a fair resolution. But be aware that the general manager may not agree with your observations or facts; he may be on the foreman’s side and have concerns about your performance.
If the general manager does not assist you, look for third-party advice. If you have an employee assistance program, it may offer legal advice or a counsellor to discuss coping strategies. Or speak with a private employment lawyer. (There may be some form of bullying going on, too. This website can help: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/bullying.html. Check your province’s occupational health and safety legislation stance on bullying.)
These options don’t guarantee that things will become better, but doing nothing will not improve your situation. Another option is to seek an internal transfer or look for a new job. Unfortunately, it is too common for people to quit their manager, not their employer, to find peace. Whatever you do, be objective; stick with the facts; keep emotions out of it so you are not blinded; and be clear about what fair treatment means and what you want.
THE SECOND ANSWER
Human resources partner, talent manager, Questrade.com, Toronto
My first recommendation is to document. Summarizing your view in writing of everything that has occurred is critical to any next steps you will take. It will help you reflect on the situation from an objective point on view. It will also serve as a tool to escalate the situation.
Second, I encourage you to speak to your foreman directly about his actions and the impact they are having on you. This will be a difficult conversation, but with your notes to guide you, you should approach him in a non-argumentative manner to express how you feel about his actions and inform him that it is best for you, him, and the company to move past this situation. This will also give him a chance to provide you with his point of view. There are always two sides to a situation, so this will be beneficial for you to know and take in.
Finally, bring up your concerns with the general manager. Again, your documentation is key to ensuring your situation is clearly understood. Focus on the facts and remove the emotions you are feeling when explaining it to him. If things are as unjust as you describe, the facts are all you need and will only strengthen your position. The general manager should know about any misconduct so the situation can be appropriately investigated and resolved, and so you can focus on your role in a healthy work environment.
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