Saturday, August 18, 2007

Management Series Part 2: Interlude

Before I go on to suggest what I think could make life better for employees and employers, I wanted to describe some of the behavior I have personally seen on the part of supervisors and bosses:

- Demand that hospitalized employees "get back to work"

- Insist that contagiously sick employees come to work and infect everyone else

- Keep "secret" files on employees that they aren't permitted to see (but threaten them with what's in those files constantly! "I'm documenting this!")

- Pit employees against each other, creating animosity

- Use abusive language toward employees, including obscenities

- Throw items at employees, from small items like paperclips to large ones like chairs

- Demand that they work overtime, then scream at them because payroll's high

- Intimidate workers into working in unsafe conditions

- Intimidate subsequently injured employees into not reporting the injuries, or belittle them for their injuries and tell them to man up and get back to work

- Comment, ridicule, and lecture employees on personal, private matters such as their dietary habits, weight, religion, hobbies, health (I have had several employers tell me what medications/herbal supplements I should be taking, becoming angry when I didn't take their suggestions, or when I DID and didn't get better)

- Allow favored employees to break rules without consequence

- Allow or encourage favorites to physically or verbally bully other employees

- Allow favorites to work while intoxicated and even operate heavy machinery such as forklifts and manufacturing equipment

- Sexually harass employees

- Hire friends and family and don't hold them to the same standards/rules as others

- Be intolerant of disabled employees, even when their disability was disclosed in the hiring process

- Use racist language, including the N word (that's a story I will be telling soon, promise)

Yes, a lot of these behaviors are illegal. The processes for making a complaint or getting justice are often so complex or expensive as to be inaccessible to many aggrieved workers. Officials, especially elected ones, often have a financial or political incentive to side with the employer.

Think about it. How often do you hear of friends or family encountering an illegal behavior from a supervisor or boss--or how many times have you encountered them personally? How often do they pursue legal action? If they do figure out the channels for making a proper complaint, or hire a lawyer, how many times have you heard of someone winning a case or getting positive results?

The only times I've actually heard of positive outcomes in these situations have been when unions are involved. My father, a postal worker, taught me that bad managers in the USPS get a visit from union representatives if they are treating employees in illegal ways. But, for the most part, the rest of the employers in the US seem to have a great deal of freedom to physically, psychologically, and financially destroy their workers, with repercussions being rare in proportion to the number of offenses.

What have you seen? What has happened to YOU? I want to hear about it.


annaham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
annaham said...

I deleted my original comment because I read over it after I posted, and realized that it was sort of confusingly written.

ANYWAY: I (recently) had a boss who threatened to take money out of my paycheck for the preceeding week if I failed to show up for work *the day after* I had to go to the Emergency Room for a non-work-related (but serious) anaphylactic allergy attack. This threat was made to a friend of mine who offered to cover for me the next day. My boss maintained that the store would "lose money" if I closed the store for the day, and she would therefore take this money out of my paycheck. My friend covered for me, luckily, and here's the ironic part: Nothing was sold at the store that day (as the shop caters to a very specific client base), which actually caused my boss to lose money by having to pay my friend for his covering for me.

vesta44 said...

I was fired from a company because they said I had a bad attitude. Now, I had gotten along with my previous supervisor for 6 months, no problems (I was at work on time every day, didn't call in or miss work, and did more than the standard required). When they transferred my supervisor and brought in a new one, I had nothing but problems with her. She was constantly coming out to the production floor and saying that I didn't look like I was working hard enough (even tho I exceeded standards and was out-producing other employees). She would tell other employees that she was going to see if she could make me cry because she thought it was funny (I suffer from depression and was taking 20 mg of Prozac, had to increase it to 40 mg because of her crap). We had temps come in to help out, and they weren't allowed to run the saw or the polishing machine or the forklift. All they could do was the work that had to be done by hand. One of the temps said I told him he could use the forklift (no way would I do that, I knew better) and they suspended me without pay for 3 days while they investigated. I figured I was going to get fired, so I looked for another job (and got it), so when they called me in when the investigation was done, and told me I had an attitude problem and was fired, I said fine, I have another job anyway. I also told them that it was not right to fire someone for having an attitude problem if you don't write it up, discuss it, and give the person a chance to change. They wanted to know if I wanted to quit since I had another job, and I told them no, you fired me, so fired it is. That way, if the new job didn't work out, I could draw unemployment on them because I had worked since I got fired.
The new job I went to, every review I ever had with my leads was stellar. So I don't know where the other job thought I had an attitude problem (and with the second job, I was so much less stressed that I actually got to quit taking my Prozac).