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I need legal advice!!

Posted by ryah h on 2/05/02 at 18:48 (072695)

I was embarrassed and ridiculed by the manager in my office regarding my tennis shoes.My orthotics were fitted to my tennis shoes, and I have used them for about 3 months now.They are wonderful!The manager screamed and yelled at me in front of my co-workers! She says that because we now are
starting A NEW YEAR, I am no longer allowed to use my tennis shoes!!!!

Re: But first,

Carole C in NOLA on 2/05/02 at 19:31 (072707)

Go talk to her again, and if that doesn't work go talk to personnel or human resources. People are incredibly insensitive about handicaps sometimes. Whatever you do, don't ruin your feet by wearing the wrong thing, and don't quit your job!

Carole C

Re: I need legal advice!!

BG CPed on 2/05/02 at 19:43 (072711)

I would suggest that you go in tomorrow,play dumb and say 'I was not clear on your insructions regarding my need to wear a medical device that only fits in non dress shoes. I dont want to violate company policy. I didnt get all of your orders yesterday, I would like you to put it in writing please'. See what she does I would also have a letter of medical need from your Dr. WAIT until she gives you an answer on paper, which I doubt she will. Be firm and ask when you can expect that letter. If she gives it to you keep it then send her a copy of the Dr. letter with a cc to personel

That will cover all angles, dont get a Lawyer involved unless they fire you over it, if they do you will have it covered.

Re: I need legal advice!!

Mahatmelissama on 2/05/02 at 20:05 (072717)

I went through this at another job with dress code. The Pointy-Head Boss told my pointy-head boss and other bosses 'No stir-up pants...no casual clothes.'

I looked at my pointy headed boss and said
'I need this in writing so I can follow it. I was not aware of any dress policy.'

After that, suddenly, Pointy Head Boss dropped the matter. It was simply NEVER BROUGHT UP AGAIN. This is a person who screamed at her employees...
but even she knew she could not enforce something unless it was in writing.

If you say 'Are you aware these are medical orthopaedic pads placed inside these shoes?' Her 'Ah, no...why didn't you tell me?' is probably her response. And 'Can't you get another pair of orthopaedics in another pair of shoes?' 'Well, I simply did not no this violated any COMPANY POLICY or company dress code. If you give me a written copy of it, I will do my best to follow it to the best of my ability.'

If you push back on your boss, firmly, nicely but strong...she will not push it unless she is very very stupid and has no self-control (which she may...sounds like very very unprofessional behavior to me!)

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/06/02 at 17:36 (072829)

Thanks!!! I had the orthotics company fax me a letter explaining why my tennis shoes were fitted with orthotics!I gave it to the manager, and also send it to my union....requesting the manager to answer in writing!So,now I have a letter authorizing me to wear my tennis shoes...
The manager is now retaliating by putting out a sarcastic company computer briefing, and talking bad about me behind my back...I am now a troublemaker with a bad attitude!!I filed a grievance with my union.Let's see what happens next?

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/06/02 at 17:42 (072830)

Thanks for your help! I tried to explain about orthotics,and she just kept screaming and yelling at me.She didn't even let me defend myself!She was just screaming CAN'T YOU HEAR ME!AREN'T YOU LISTENING!She threatend to report me to our main office and union!So I got a letter from doctor,and requested her response in writing!!I have an authorization in writing.Now she is retaliating!!!

Re: I need legal advice!!

BG CPed on 2/06/02 at 21:49 (072862)

Sounds like she has more issues than just your choice of footwear, good luck

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/06/02 at 22:23 (072870)

Yes! You are right! I am starting to realize that now.

Re: I need legal advice!!

Mahatmelissama on 2/07/02 at 00:32 (072881)

Wow! She is losing her composure and becoming quite unprofessional. I am sorry to hear about this! You did the exact right thing, which is why she is so mad!

Please please talk to her supervisor and HR. Please also document this incident, word for word...write it all down. I would be very surprised if her superiors do not talk to her and straighten her out.

You did good to ask her to reply in writing and bring a doctor's excuse. She makes herself look very very foolish. You look like a normal rational person and she is acting insane. Please let us know what transpires after this!

I am going to be praying about this one...she sounds like she has lost it!

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/09/02 at 15:43 (073165)

I filed a grievance through IAM. It was denied, because the union contract does not have an article against harassment!!!! I was told that complain was documented though and I will get a letter of apology!!!!!!
The manager, who harassed me, is not even going to know that I had filed a grievance,because ' we all have to live and work together'!!!!!!!
I was guaranteed that she will not be harassing me again, but nothing will show in her personnel file....!!!!!!
I can't wait to see the letter! In my book APOLOGY means admittance of
guilt!!!

Re: I need legal advice!!

Glennx on 2/09/02 at 16:01 (073166)

Ryah: I would say by the number of exclamation marks that you're not satisfied with this outcome. I'm also not certain of the outcome you're after.

I've worked the union side and the management side of the bargaining table. I would be surprised to see contract language prohibiting 'harassment.' It is not against the law, and would be awfully hard to define.

'Sexual harassment' is a special form of 'discrimination.' It is only because someone is being treated differently because of their gender that violations are investigated and corrective measures (if needed) are taken. In fact, about a year ago the Supreme Court ruled that a manager who had been sexually harassing both men and women equally, was not in violation of any laws. He was not 'discriminating' based on a protected class. A company can nonetheless prohibit such behavior, but would not be doing so based on legal issues.

I've said all this not knowing if you're a man or a woman. That could be a factor.

If your grievance-action ends the behavior you were frustrated with, or enables you to wear the shoes you need, perhaps you've accomplished your chief purpose? If you're still frustrated, there's clearly more going than I'm aware of, or can help with on this site, and maybe the EEOC can assist further.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/09/02 at 22:58 (073217)

Thank you! I am learning a lot from you.You are wise, and I value your opinion. I am an old lady. What I am worrying is retaliation. As soon as I received the letter of authorization to use my tennis shoes, she started
retaliating against me.I am worried that she will continue retaliation
as a pay back for having to give in.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/09/02 at 23:08 (073219)

Can a grievance be filed only if there is a violation of any of the articles in the union contract? Do you think my shop steward should
have advised me of that?
And can the grievance be denied ,if the contract was not violated.
I have never been in a situation like this
before, and could never have imagined that I would be taking action
like this in my office.My shop steward explained to me afterwards
that this was the only way to have this matter documented. The company
is now aware of the managerial style, which would maybe need a little
adjusting.

Re: I need legal advice!!

Glennx on 2/10/02 at 11:37 (073252)

Ryah: I am not familiar with your contract, but when I was representing employees I'd file a grievance for just about any wrong that I felt needed righting. If the grievance was supported by a contractual violation, all the better (all the more likelihood of success), but at a minimum the grievance provided a formal process for an issue needing discussion and resolution.

The grievance can be denied by management, even if the contract HAS been violated. It's all about perspective and interpretation. But just because a grievance is denied doesn't mean it's not doing its work.

It might help if you viewed the 'grievance' as simply a formal means for you to communicate with the management of your company when you're dissatisfied with something. Your union steward is the carrier of the messages (both directions); the grievance is the paper trail, the 'documentation.'

Conflict is almost always unsettling, and I can appreciate that it's a little scary speaking up, particularly when the issue doesn't get immediately resolved as we might have expected. Many of the people I used to represent felt uneasy about filing a grievance, even when they were clearly in the right. Your not having gone through this before probably heightens the unease.

Your steward sounds like he or she is doing a good job. I suspect management is indeed more aware of a certain boss whose supervising style needs work. That boss may be a bit defensive and contrary close on the heels of the incident, but they should come around.

Were I you, I'd keep my chin up (not out), and let a few days do their work. Keep documenting anything that you feel is retaliatory. Note anything too that suggests things are going to be OK.

And give yourself a pat on the back for speaking up and hanging tough.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/10/02 at 12:27 (073260)

Again,THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Believe me ,it was hard to make a decision to file the actual grievance,and I did it after a quite a few sleepless nights.I have already documented 3 instances of retaliation in my log book.They might be minor, but show a change of a regular office procedures compared to handling other employees in my office.Anything out of the ordinary I will write down.Thank you for advising me also to remember
to write down anything positive. I never thought of that.
If I verbally agreed to the resolution of my case,in front of my shop steward and the manager handling this case,does it bind me not to take
any future action, in case that the retaliation continues.We have different steps in our grievance procedure, and we are now in step one.

Re: I need legal advice!!

Glennx on 2/10/02 at 14:03 (073265)

Ryah: I'm not sure what your agreement consisted of, but seriously doubt that anything occured that would in any way compromise your right to file future gievances should conditions warrant.

Rights cannot so easily be forfeited. As an example, an 'hourly' employee cannot agree to work more than 40 hours a week without receiving time and a half for hours in excess of 40. It is not their choice. It would be too easy for unscrupulous employers to coerce the extra work at straight-time rates.

If needed, I'm sure your steward could help you better understand the agreement that was made.

Step one is where most grievances are resolved. It's closest to the key players. Your circumstance sounds like one that could and should be resolved there.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/10/02 at 17:26 (073293)

What I was a little frustrated with is the fact that she will not even be
notified, that I had filed a grievance, and there will be no mention of
the grievance in her file.I was guaranteed that the harassment will not
continue, but was told that if she ever yells at me again, I would first
have to get HER permission to go to file a complain with the manager,who handled my grievance.I was also told that the matter would be taken up
in the next managers' meeting, without mentioning my name. My shop steward
smartly demanded to be notified of that meeting, and requested to be
present. He told me that if this matter was not discussed,
he will go for MEDIATION with the head of personnel. Does that mean the
same as ARBITRATION?

Re: I need legal advice!!

Glennx on 2/10/02 at 21:24 (073316)

Ryah, Again, not familiar with your company or their grievance procedure . . . But, there's a lot going on here that might not be readily apparent.

If you've been guaranteed that the harassment will cease, there had (has) to be some communication with your immediate supervisor about her behavior. There might be other issues with this supervisor and when higher ups talked to her they didn't want it to appear that your's was the only complaint. (Maybe there's a general attitude problem with supervisors that needs to be addressed in a meeting). Not identifying you as the griever lessens the likelihood of retaliation.

Step one (or one half) of the grievance procedure is typically to take issues up with one's immediate supervisor. The aim is to resolve things close to the source. It is a normal practice to 'require' 'permission' from one's supervisor before leaving the department to, say see a manager. (Though open-door policies often confuse this preference).

It would be rare for a grievance to be placed in a supervisor's file.

Mediation might be a step in your company's grievance procedure. Arbitration is usually something different. Often too, these terms are used loosely and could mean anything.

Here's a tough question: Do you want to get right or get even? 'Good' conflict resolution means 'pushing' hard enough to get what you want, and no harder. 'Great' conflict resolution would mean you and your supervisor both learn and grow from this experience, and are the better and kindlier for it.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/10/02 at 21:32 (073317)

Just found out that my company is planning on announcing lay-offs this
coming week!According to the union contract, that has to go by seniority.
The rumor is that the company is trying to go around the contract somehow.
I feel really vulnerable, because of my grievance.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/10/02 at 21:41 (073318)

Thank you very much for information! I have a lot to learn!

Re: But first,

Carole C in NOLA on 2/05/02 at 19:31 (072707)

Go talk to her again, and if that doesn't work go talk to personnel or human resources. People are incredibly insensitive about handicaps sometimes. Whatever you do, don't ruin your feet by wearing the wrong thing, and don't quit your job!

Carole C

Re: I need legal advice!!

BG CPed on 2/05/02 at 19:43 (072711)

I would suggest that you go in tomorrow,play dumb and say 'I was not clear on your insructions regarding my need to wear a medical device that only fits in non dress shoes. I dont want to violate company policy. I didnt get all of your orders yesterday, I would like you to put it in writing please'. See what she does I would also have a letter of medical need from your Dr. WAIT until she gives you an answer on paper, which I doubt she will. Be firm and ask when you can expect that letter. If she gives it to you keep it then send her a copy of the Dr. letter with a cc to personel

That will cover all angles, dont get a Lawyer involved unless they fire you over it, if they do you will have it covered.

Re: I need legal advice!!

Mahatmelissama on 2/05/02 at 20:05 (072717)

I went through this at another job with dress code. The Pointy-Head Boss told my pointy-head boss and other bosses 'No stir-up pants...no casual clothes.'

I looked at my pointy headed boss and said
'I need this in writing so I can follow it. I was not aware of any dress policy.'

After that, suddenly, Pointy Head Boss dropped the matter. It was simply NEVER BROUGHT UP AGAIN. This is a person who screamed at her employees...
but even she knew she could not enforce something unless it was in writing.

If you say 'Are you aware these are medical orthopaedic pads placed inside these shoes?' Her 'Ah, no...why didn't you tell me?' is probably her response. And 'Can't you get another pair of orthopaedics in another pair of shoes?' 'Well, I simply did not no this violated any COMPANY POLICY or company dress code. If you give me a written copy of it, I will do my best to follow it to the best of my ability.'

If you push back on your boss, firmly, nicely but strong...she will not push it unless she is very very stupid and has no self-control (which she may...sounds like very very unprofessional behavior to me!)

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/06/02 at 17:36 (072829)

Thanks!!! I had the orthotics company fax me a letter explaining why my tennis shoes were fitted with orthotics!I gave it to the manager, and also send it to my union....requesting the manager to answer in writing!So,now I have a letter authorizing me to wear my tennis shoes...
The manager is now retaliating by putting out a sarcastic company computer briefing, and talking bad about me behind my back...I am now a troublemaker with a bad attitude!!I filed a grievance with my union.Let's see what happens next?

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/06/02 at 17:42 (072830)

Thanks for your help! I tried to explain about orthotics,and she just kept screaming and yelling at me.She didn't even let me defend myself!She was just screaming CAN'T YOU HEAR ME!AREN'T YOU LISTENING!She threatend to report me to our main office and union!So I got a letter from doctor,and requested her response in writing!!I have an authorization in writing.Now she is retaliating!!!

Re: I need legal advice!!

BG CPed on 2/06/02 at 21:49 (072862)

Sounds like she has more issues than just your choice of footwear, good luck

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/06/02 at 22:23 (072870)

Yes! You are right! I am starting to realize that now.

Re: I need legal advice!!

Mahatmelissama on 2/07/02 at 00:32 (072881)

Wow! She is losing her composure and becoming quite unprofessional. I am sorry to hear about this! You did the exact right thing, which is why she is so mad!

Please please talk to her supervisor and HR. Please also document this incident, word for word...write it all down. I would be very surprised if her superiors do not talk to her and straighten her out.

You did good to ask her to reply in writing and bring a doctor's excuse. She makes herself look very very foolish. You look like a normal rational person and she is acting insane. Please let us know what transpires after this!

I am going to be praying about this one...she sounds like she has lost it!

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/09/02 at 15:43 (073165)

I filed a grievance through IAM. It was denied, because the union contract does not have an article against harassment!!!! I was told that complain was documented though and I will get a letter of apology!!!!!!
The manager, who harassed me, is not even going to know that I had filed a grievance,because ' we all have to live and work together'!!!!!!!
I was guaranteed that she will not be harassing me again, but nothing will show in her personnel file....!!!!!!
I can't wait to see the letter! In my book APOLOGY means admittance of
guilt!!!

Re: I need legal advice!!

Glennx on 2/09/02 at 16:01 (073166)

Ryah: I would say by the number of exclamation marks that you're not satisfied with this outcome. I'm also not certain of the outcome you're after.

I've worked the union side and the management side of the bargaining table. I would be surprised to see contract language prohibiting 'harassment.' It is not against the law, and would be awfully hard to define.

'Sexual harassment' is a special form of 'discrimination.' It is only because someone is being treated differently because of their gender that violations are investigated and corrective measures (if needed) are taken. In fact, about a year ago the Supreme Court ruled that a manager who had been sexually harassing both men and women equally, was not in violation of any laws. He was not 'discriminating' based on a protected class. A company can nonetheless prohibit such behavior, but would not be doing so based on legal issues.

I've said all this not knowing if you're a man or a woman. That could be a factor.

If your grievance-action ends the behavior you were frustrated with, or enables you to wear the shoes you need, perhaps you've accomplished your chief purpose? If you're still frustrated, there's clearly more going than I'm aware of, or can help with on this site, and maybe the EEOC can assist further.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/09/02 at 22:58 (073217)

Thank you! I am learning a lot from you.You are wise, and I value your opinion. I am an old lady. What I am worrying is retaliation. As soon as I received the letter of authorization to use my tennis shoes, she started
retaliating against me.I am worried that she will continue retaliation
as a pay back for having to give in.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/09/02 at 23:08 (073219)

Can a grievance be filed only if there is a violation of any of the articles in the union contract? Do you think my shop steward should
have advised me of that?
And can the grievance be denied ,if the contract was not violated.
I have never been in a situation like this
before, and could never have imagined that I would be taking action
like this in my office.My shop steward explained to me afterwards
that this was the only way to have this matter documented. The company
is now aware of the managerial style, which would maybe need a little
adjusting.

Re: I need legal advice!!

Glennx on 2/10/02 at 11:37 (073252)

Ryah: I am not familiar with your contract, but when I was representing employees I'd file a grievance for just about any wrong that I felt needed righting. If the grievance was supported by a contractual violation, all the better (all the more likelihood of success), but at a minimum the grievance provided a formal process for an issue needing discussion and resolution.

The grievance can be denied by management, even if the contract HAS been violated. It's all about perspective and interpretation. But just because a grievance is denied doesn't mean it's not doing its work.

It might help if you viewed the 'grievance' as simply a formal means for you to communicate with the management of your company when you're dissatisfied with something. Your union steward is the carrier of the messages (both directions); the grievance is the paper trail, the 'documentation.'

Conflict is almost always unsettling, and I can appreciate that it's a little scary speaking up, particularly when the issue doesn't get immediately resolved as we might have expected. Many of the people I used to represent felt uneasy about filing a grievance, even when they were clearly in the right. Your not having gone through this before probably heightens the unease.

Your steward sounds like he or she is doing a good job. I suspect management is indeed more aware of a certain boss whose supervising style needs work. That boss may be a bit defensive and contrary close on the heels of the incident, but they should come around.

Were I you, I'd keep my chin up (not out), and let a few days do their work. Keep documenting anything that you feel is retaliatory. Note anything too that suggests things are going to be OK.

And give yourself a pat on the back for speaking up and hanging tough.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/10/02 at 12:27 (073260)

Again,THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Believe me ,it was hard to make a decision to file the actual grievance,and I did it after a quite a few sleepless nights.I have already documented 3 instances of retaliation in my log book.They might be minor, but show a change of a regular office procedures compared to handling other employees in my office.Anything out of the ordinary I will write down.Thank you for advising me also to remember
to write down anything positive. I never thought of that.
If I verbally agreed to the resolution of my case,in front of my shop steward and the manager handling this case,does it bind me not to take
any future action, in case that the retaliation continues.We have different steps in our grievance procedure, and we are now in step one.

Re: I need legal advice!!

Glennx on 2/10/02 at 14:03 (073265)

Ryah: I'm not sure what your agreement consisted of, but seriously doubt that anything occured that would in any way compromise your right to file future gievances should conditions warrant.

Rights cannot so easily be forfeited. As an example, an 'hourly' employee cannot agree to work more than 40 hours a week without receiving time and a half for hours in excess of 40. It is not their choice. It would be too easy for unscrupulous employers to coerce the extra work at straight-time rates.

If needed, I'm sure your steward could help you better understand the agreement that was made.

Step one is where most grievances are resolved. It's closest to the key players. Your circumstance sounds like one that could and should be resolved there.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/10/02 at 17:26 (073293)

What I was a little frustrated with is the fact that she will not even be
notified, that I had filed a grievance, and there will be no mention of
the grievance in her file.I was guaranteed that the harassment will not
continue, but was told that if she ever yells at me again, I would first
have to get HER permission to go to file a complain with the manager,who handled my grievance.I was also told that the matter would be taken up
in the next managers' meeting, without mentioning my name. My shop steward
smartly demanded to be notified of that meeting, and requested to be
present. He told me that if this matter was not discussed,
he will go for MEDIATION with the head of personnel. Does that mean the
same as ARBITRATION?

Re: I need legal advice!!

Glennx on 2/10/02 at 21:24 (073316)

Ryah, Again, not familiar with your company or their grievance procedure . . . But, there's a lot going on here that might not be readily apparent.

If you've been guaranteed that the harassment will cease, there had (has) to be some communication with your immediate supervisor about her behavior. There might be other issues with this supervisor and when higher ups talked to her they didn't want it to appear that your's was the only complaint. (Maybe there's a general attitude problem with supervisors that needs to be addressed in a meeting). Not identifying you as the griever lessens the likelihood of retaliation.

Step one (or one half) of the grievance procedure is typically to take issues up with one's immediate supervisor. The aim is to resolve things close to the source. It is a normal practice to 'require' 'permission' from one's supervisor before leaving the department to, say see a manager. (Though open-door policies often confuse this preference).

It would be rare for a grievance to be placed in a supervisor's file.

Mediation might be a step in your company's grievance procedure. Arbitration is usually something different. Often too, these terms are used loosely and could mean anything.

Here's a tough question: Do you want to get right or get even? 'Good' conflict resolution means 'pushing' hard enough to get what you want, and no harder. 'Great' conflict resolution would mean you and your supervisor both learn and grow from this experience, and are the better and kindlier for it.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/10/02 at 21:32 (073317)

Just found out that my company is planning on announcing lay-offs this
coming week!According to the union contract, that has to go by seniority.
The rumor is that the company is trying to go around the contract somehow.
I feel really vulnerable, because of my grievance.

Re: I need legal advice!!

ryah h on 2/10/02 at 21:41 (073318)

Thank you very much for information! I have a lot to learn!