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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    3

    Default Employee Attributes Poor Performance to Medical Condition, Complains About Supervisor

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Washington

    Hi,

    I am the manager of a retail pharmacy in a large chain. There is quite a bit of background, which I will outline below, but the main gist is that a poor performing, frequently complaining employee has me in hot water with HR. I would greatly appreciate any legal advice in regards to the messed up situation that I am in.

    This all started well over a year ago. I have a staff of technicians in my pharmacy. They are all good and efficient workers, except for one who I'll call Sam. I assigned my technicians to the tasks that each of them are best at, but Sam complained to corporate HR that I was not treating him well, as he wanted to do the typing. Even though Sam is very slow at typing, we arranged for that to be his main task, as that is what HR wanted me to do to appease Sam. HR looked down on me for not being fair, but I am supposed to be running an efficient pharmacy, not harming the flow of business so that someone can work on his preferred tasks. Another time Sam complained about the schedule and said I was not being fair, even though I was, so the schedule had to be adjusted to Sam's benefit and to the detriment of the other technicians. This was also considered another complaint against me. Sam complained that I talk more with the other technicians. I always stayed professional with Sam and communicated all pertinent business matters with him, but am I supposed to keep the same level of friendly chatter with the employee who keeps complaining about me? The entire situation became miserable. In each of several meetings with HR they let me know that they do not care at all about Sam's performance. They only care about my treatment of him. I was never unfair to him, but it appears that they only care about addressing complaints and Sam was complaining. Then HR verbally threatened me that on the next complaint that I would be terminated. They did not give me anything in writing.

    I have done an excellent job for my store. My customer satisfaction rates are some of the highest. I've worked there for many years and love this location, but I wanted to change locations simply to not have to deal with Sam anymore. I applied to work as a pharmacist (not manager) in another location for this chain, but they blocked my application. HR said that I could not move while there was an active investigation. Then the HR person in charge of this case went on leave for an undetermined amount of time. I was stuck. A new HR person was finally assigned to the case months later.

    Sam is not a good technician. He is slow. He does not prioritize well. He leaves tasks partially finished prior to lunch and at the end of his shift. Sam causes trouble for other technicians, the pharmacy as a whole, and me. The other technicians let me know that the are not pleased that they have to cover for Sam. Sam does not complete the amount of work that he should during his shifts. That leaves extra work for the other technicians to complete. Often the other technicians have to figure out Sam's partially finished tasks and then complete then for him. Sam has told customers that their prescriptions will be ready in 30 minutes, but then fails to do his processing steps so that I can fill the script. When the customers come back and their prescriptions are not ready they are pissed. There have been complaints made to the store and I am the one who looks bad as the manager. Yet, I am unable to do anything about Sam. If I say anything to Sam, he complains about me. If I do nothing, my other technicians complain to me and we all, including the retail customers, suffer from his poor quality work.

    Recently I noticed that Sam's typing speed has really slowed down even further. I spoke to him about it and he said that he now has a medical problem that makes typing difficult. When my regional pharmacy manager (not HR) was around the other week I called in Sam into a meeting so that we can arrange for him to do something different. My regional manager acknowledges the poor quality and lack of speed in Sam's work. Initially Sam made the fuss about needing to type, but now he claims that he cannot do so. Sam was not happy about going into an unannounced meeting. He complained to HR about me yet again.

    Now the new HR person in charge of this case is coming to meet with me. During the last meeting with the previous HR person I was threatened with termination if there was another complaint. It seems so wrong to me that I have been held hostage in this situation. I am a great manger and run the pharmacy very well, but it appears that a very low quality technician is getting his way. I have been guessing that HR has always been on Sam's side is that they are only interested in not getting sued by Sam as they clearly do not care about how to actually run the pharmacy well at all.

    What can I do? What legal rights do I have? Sam has made it sound as if I have been harassing him, which is not the case.

    Thanks,
    Janice O.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    3,663

    Default Re: Sticky Situation Caused by Subordinate at Work

    Leave Sam alone and let him do his job. If he keeps complaining about you, the company can terminate you if they believe Sam.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.......

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    1,988

    Default Re: Sticky Situation Caused by Subordinate at Work

    There is no law requiring HR not to be morons.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,395

    Default Re: Sticky Situation Caused by Subordinate at Work

    While Lehk is correct, after reading this post on both this thread and at least one other, and seeing it from an HR perspective, I can see several things that HR is doing right. Just because it isn't what our poster thinks should happen doesn't mean they're wrong. I can also see at least one thing where I strongly suspect that our poster has misunderstood what he/she was told.

    I also see a couple of things that I would do differently if I were the HR in charge of this situation. But I can see nothing to suggest that anyone has done anything illegal.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    3

    Default Re: Sticky Situation Caused by Subordinate at Work

    Quote Quoting Who'sThatGuy
    View Post
    Leave Sam alone and let him do his job. If he keeps complaining about you, the company can terminate you if they believe Sam.
    I am Sam's boss. His poor work performance affects the entire pharmacy. How am I supposed to manage him them? I left him alone for nearly a year after the initial trouble he caused, but he recently got much worse, so that is why I finally brought it up again. I even had my regional manager there so that it wasn't just me and Sam with no witnesses, but still HR is coming to talk with me.

    I get that I may have no legal rights, but this still seems so wrong.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Quoting cbg
    View Post
    While Lehk is correct, after reading this post on both this thread and at least one other, and seeing it from an HR perspective, I can see several things that HR is doing right. Just because it isn't what our poster thinks should happen doesn't mean they're wrong. I can also see at least one thing where I strongly suspect that our poster has misunderstood what he/she was told.

    I also see a couple of things that I would do differently if I were the HR in charge of this situation. But I can see nothing to suggest that anyone has done anything illegal.

    Cbg,

    OK, so HR isn't wrong. I am a pharmacist, not a lawyer, so that is why I am asking for advice. My situation just seems so wrong to me. I feel like I am getting screwed even if it isn't illegal. What should or could I have done differently? If my pharmacy's performance suffers due to Sam, I would get in trouble with my regional pharmacy manager, but if I try to do _anything_ with Sam I get in trouble with HR.

    Please let me know what you think that I misunderstood. Is there anything that you think I should say or explain to HR to try to salvage the situation? This is all very real.

    Thanks,
    JO

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    3,663

    Default Re: Sticky Situation Caused by Subordinate at Work

    Quote Quoting JaniceO
    View Post
    I am Sam's boss. His poor work performance affects the entire pharmacy. How am I supposed to manage him them? I left him alone for nearly a year after the initial trouble he caused, but he recently got much worse, so that is why I finally brought it up again. I even had my regional manager there so that it wasn't just me and Sam with no witnesses, but still HR is coming to talk with me.

    I get that I may have no legal rights, but this still seems so wrong.

    - - - Updated - - -







    Cbg,

    OK, so HR isn't wrong. I am a pharmacist, not a lawyer, so that is why I am asking for advice. My situation just seems so wrong to me. I feel like I am getting screwed even if it isn't illegal. What should or could I have done differently? If my pharmacy's performance suffers due to Sam, I would get in trouble with my regional pharmacy manager, but if I try to do _anything_ with Sam I get in trouble with HR.

    Please let me know what you think that I misunderstood. Is there anything that you think I should say or explain to HR to try to salvage the situation? This is all very real.

    Thanks,
    JO
    Do you know what HR is coming to talk about?

    Maybe HR believes Sam over you?

    HR can ether terminate or move ether of you to another pharmacy of there choosing. This pharmacy could be 10 miles down the road or 50 miles across state and whomever they choose must comply or quit.

    There isn't anything legally you could do to the company to force them to terminate Sam.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.......

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Sticky Situation Caused by Subordinate at Work

    Quote Quoting Who'sThatGuy
    View Post
    Do you know what HR is coming to talk about?

    Maybe HR believes Sam over you?

    HR can ether terminate or move ether of you to another pharmacy of there choosing. This pharmacy could be 10 miles down the road or 50 miles across state and whomever they choose must comply or quit.

    There isn't anything legally you could do to the company to force them to terminate Sam.
    I was told by my regional pharmacy manager that HR is coming to talk to me "not about Sam's performance, but about your treatment of Sam". I've pretty much let Sam get away with murder. He is horrible to work with. Funnily enough, I should have been the one talking to HR about Sam's treatment of me.

    Maybe it is a case of the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I am a manager. I feel that I should be able to deal with my situations. I am not a whiner that needs to complain to HR. But that does not appear to be effective in this current game.

    The HR person who is coming is new to this case. Perhaps I can convince him about the reality of the situation.

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