Legal aspects of everyday work

This is a discussion on Legal aspects of everyday work within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; I've been working as a programmer/intern type person for an engineering firm for about 2 years now. My boss and ...

  1. #1
    Epy
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    Legal aspects of everyday work

    I've been working as a programmer/intern type person for an engineering firm for about 2 years now. My boss and I were best of buds the whole time up until recently when he decided I was the worst intern ever and has just turned into a total @#$%#. Totally unexpected, I've asked him and everyone what I did only to learn that he's just completely unbalanced.

    So anyway, he's kept busy at trying to make my job as miserable as possible now. I've made HR and his boss aware of a sticky situation and that I'd like to be transferred if possible. Until then, how would you handle this situation? My primary concern is that he might just up and fire me. As I understand it (in the US), if I've done everything that was asked of me and had good work attendance, etc. I should be able to take legal action if fired for no good reason (this is not at-will employment, they shouldn't be able to just let me go). Is this accurate?

    Just looking for advice in general. Thanks in advance.

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    Two words of advice : Gather Evidence.

    Should he fire you, you will need to prove unjust termination.
    At the other end of the scale, you need to know exactly what you did wrong.

    Should the situation persist without relief, you will need your evidence for internal HR complaints intended to terminate the harassment.

    Being fired has impacts on a person's entire career and if they cannot or do not stand up for themsleves, it can result in a reputation that will follow you wherever you go.

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    Epy
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    Gather evidence how, prove that I did the work that was asked of me?

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    Continuously...

    Gather evidence of this guy's behavior.
    Keep a logbook
    Take pictures.
    Make audio and video recordings.

    Be able to demonstrate that your work is adequate.
    Get copies of performance reviews.

    Whatever...
    Just be ready to prove your case when the time comes.

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    I'm not sure the same justification rules apply if you're an unpaid intern, however, what CommonTater is stating is, in my opinion, both right and wrong. It might work differently in Canada, but you can't simply start recording conversations that you had with your boss and expect it to be admissible in a case against your unjust termination. Don't go crazy here... you don't need to start wiretapping the phones, you just simply have to use what rights you have to their fullest extent.

    Had you made some grievous error that caused your manager and colleagues to change his opinion of you so drastically, then like CommonTater said, this should come up in your annual performance review. If he were to write a positive review and the promptly terminate you afterwards, then you would have a valid case there.

    Also, if you feel he is treating you unjustly and that this could be reflected in the manner that he speaks to you, then you should do your best to capture as much of this in some sort of permanent record like email (not phone or video recording)... if you boss catches you video recording him, guess what... you just gave him a valid reason to fire you.

    If you can get record of you being treated unacceptably (and by the way, him not giving you as much work or as difficult of work is not unacceptable treatment) or you can find conflicting evidence between the way he reviews you to his superiors and the termination, then you have a valid case to present.

    All that said... unless you're making seven figures a year, this is almost certainly not work your time or money... typically what you could expect to make out of a settlement of this sort would be a half-year to a year's salary... most of which you'd have to spend on a lawyer to actually represent you... because if you think you're going to successfully represent yourself against a corporation then you've got another thing coming. You also won't be seeing a dime for the better part of a year after the day you get fired and I doubt you'll be comfortable dedicating that time to a settlement when you really could be getting a new job and building experience.

    Legal lawsuits aren't about entry-level salary, they're for status and severance money... if you're a Managing Director and you get fired from a position on some bogus grounds, then it could represent a ten year set back on both salary and responsibility not to mention what might be 10 or so years of salary that you would have otherwise gotten had you been respectfully released from the company. My opinion is to not worry about it too much beyond keeping good email records and focus more on getting that transfer as soon as possible... maybe even start sending resumes out to other companies... it's easier to find a job when you have a job and for all we really know he might terminate you for a valid reason.


    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    Gather evidence how, prove that I did the work that was asked of me?
    By the way, just because you do what was asked of you doesn't mean they can't let you go. I'm sure you're doing your best to work above and beyond your required tasks... but at the end of the day, if the department needs to free up budget space and they can do with out you, then they are fully entitled to let you go.
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 02-14-2011 at 01:27 PM.
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    True enough the laws may be different outside Canada... but, I was saying to accumulate as much information about the situation as you can... Even to the point of taking notes and asking others if they heard or saw an incident... All logged with times and dates...

    What you need most is documentary evidence of your employment, witnesses, and other evidence.

    As indicated, you probably won't be using audio or video recordings in a court of law... but they are wonderful blackmail tools that can be presented to HR if buddy doesn't back off. The old "I got you by the short and curlies, now if you want to keep your job..." is probably one of the very best tools an employee can have in situations like this. (That is: If they aren't playing fair, why the heck should you?)

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommonTater View Post
    but, I was saying to accumulate as much information about the situation as you can...
    Email.
    Quote Originally Posted by CommonTater View Post
    Even to the point of taking notes and asking others if they heard or saw an incident...
    Email.
    Quote Originally Posted by CommonTater View Post
    All logged with times and dates...
    Email.

    Quote Originally Posted by CommonTater View Post
    What you need most is documentary evidence of your employment, witnesses, and other evidence.
    Email.

    Quote Originally Posted by CommonTater View Post
    but they are wonderful blackmail tools
    ... and I think that about sums it up.

    Didn't momma ever tell you two wrongs don't make a right?

    Epy, let me give you some advice from my experience with legal matters...

    ... stay away from them. You're going to dedicate more time and effort than you ever could have anticipated building a "case" that you'll convince yourself will rock the very foundations that our court system was founded upon... you're going to be so emboldened by it, that you're not going to clearly see just how much time you've wasted trying to get something you kind of knew wasn't worth your time in the first place...

    ... Then you're going to present it to the defense attorney, he's going to say a couple of Latin words, and you're going to find yourself cowered in the the fetal position wondering what the hell happened. Believe me... at your level in the game... there is no place for legal battles. Aim for that transfer if you're really that uncomfortable, otherwise start looking for another job.
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 02-14-2011 at 01:53 PM.
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    In some states, "one party" states, only one party of a recording must be informed. All other states are "two party" states. AFAIK, the laws on telephone recording are the same as in person recording. Telephone recording laws - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Epy
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    Free to let me go, but not fire/terminate as I understand. One would affect me for a long while and one would not. That was the basis of my idea is that they are free to let me go, but not fire me so long as I've done everything that was asked of me.

    Not unpaid btw, I would've ditched this outfit after a month if it was unpaid.

  10. #10
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Personally I think your boss did you a great favor. Huge. You have here one excellent opportunity which rarely is given to an employee. Here you are, free to look for another and better job, while keeping this one and just doing the absolute minimum required of you to keep you hanging there.

    You can just about start forgetting about this job. Change your attitude. Don't try to save it. Gather those energies to find yourself another. Once relationships deteriorate in a working place, nothing will ever be the same again. They will not get better, only worse. You are pretty much screwed over there and it's only starting.

    Instead, give them the finger. Just nod and smile. Nod and smile. Radically change your attitude over there. Don't ask what's wrong and don't say no to work, but take your damn time. In your head you know you are just milking them for the salary, at this point. Just taking advantage of them, while you prepare your trip to greener pastures and leave the mongrels without a bone to chew on.

    Are you ready to turn this into your benefit, or what?
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    I'm on the "screw the job" side. If nothing else, if you wind up in court over this you may be seen as a hazard by other potential employers.

    Go with Mario on this one, save yourself for finding another job.

    Soma
    Last edited by phantomotap; 02-14-2011 at 06:01 PM. Reason: none of your business

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    Once relationships deteriorate in a working place, nothing will ever be the same again. They will not get better, only worse. You are pretty much screwed over there and it's only starting.
    Well, there is "Firing Up", wherein one gets rid of a bad boss... but you are right, once the crap starts, the stink lasts forever.

  13. #13
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    once you go to court, your career is pretty much tainted. Other employers would not even look at you because they'd be afraid you'd sue them too. I doubt that the settlement will be worth all the legal actions and lawyer's cost. Just find a new job, and ask for good references in that place from colleagues and boss of boss, etc.. They just basically don't want to hire you as a full-time.
    "All that we see or seem
    Is but a dream within a dream." - Poe

  14. #14
    Epy
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    To be clear, I don't really want to go to court, but if it comes to that point, I would make the threat. I'm so sick and tired of people thinking every intern is mentally retarded and that they can just beat them up as much as they want.

    Mario, you pretty much said exactly what I wanted to hear from the start. I've been thinking about looking for another job for a month or two now. It's just a little complicated since I need to find another part-time job that pays enough.

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    Epy
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    Thanks for all the advice guys.

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