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Advice needed for threatening fake warning letter

Discussion in 'Discrimination & Sexual Harassment' started by netsyspro, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. netsyspro

    netsyspro Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I work in IT for a large bank. My manager got in hot water over a year ago due to hanging myself and another teammate out to dry in a disagreement with another group over the architecture for a high visibility application platform. For over 8 months we thought he had our backs and was reporting the situation up the chain when it came out in a meeting with the 3 of us & his manager that didn't happen. There has been a disconnect between myself and my manager ever since and the other bright young man left because of the same disconnect.

    Due to us using the wrong architecture a team of appx 20 spend 6 months of 10-12 hour days performance testing in a bad architecture. During this time I started working from home almost exclusively and have continued to even since although those long days are behind us. I am only supposed to WFH 2 days per week but the mgr has barely said anything about it although it's clear he preferred I followed that directive. It is a loose directive as a couple others in the group rarely come to the office.

    Enough of the background. Last Oct I got dinged for using my company laptop while on vacation. I only did it as a matter of convenience. The laptop picked up some malicious software which tried to go to blacklisted sites when I logged into the corp network. I figure hackers sit on unsecured hotel wifi networks and that is how it happened as I don't go to nefarious sites. There was an investigation and it got to HR but they "apparently" decided not to do anything. Anyway a couple days ago my mgr said HR was going to make me sign a warning letter. Yesterday I saw this supposed letter. Everything about it looked fake. I am close to certain as possible he made it up and told me it was going in my permanent record. It starts out talking about the laptop incident and morphs into me committing an egregious act, this is a final warning(never been warned of written up about anything ever), I will be watching you and if you don't perform you will be terminated, blah, blah, blah.... The letterhead said inter-branch communications(I have nothing to do with branches.) He said it is a letter from HR although there was no mention of HR anywhere and it wasn't signed by anyone before I signed it. His name was the only on the document.

    I asked the advice of a former manager as to what I should be and he said to contact my HR employee relations representative. I don't trust HR as far as I can throw a building so that is out. I am sure how I should proceed. Any advice would be most welcome. Thanks you in advance.

    Best Regards, netsyspro
     
  2. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure what kind of advice you are looking for to be honest. Whether the letter was written by HR or your manager it is entirely legal to put you on warning for behavior that should not have occurred. The letter should have been issued a long time ago when the offense occurred, but that is not a legal requirement. Often warning letters come from the direct supervisor with input from HR, not from HR directly. Whether you sign it or not is up to you but it would be legal to terminate you for refusing. It makes no difference at all what letter was used.
     
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  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You said more than enough to cause your immediate termination.
    However, as an at will employee your employer doesn't need a reason to terminate you.
    The law doesn't require an employer to warn employees before they can be terminated.
    You could be fired without reason, explanation, ceremony, or discussion.

    A person with the authority (or acting upon the direction of someone with the authority) of your employer could simply walk up to you and say, "You're fired. Collect yoru stuff, and I will escort you from the premises."

    Heck, I've seen it go down another way.
    Manager and two armed security officers walk up to Bob.
    manager says, "Please follow these two officers, Bob. Effective immediately your employment is terminated. A courier has delivered a package to your describing what you can do about COBRA, as well as a generous severance check from the firm. Your belongings will be shipped to your today, and you should have them all tomorrow. If you care to grab a few things from your desk, please do so. I'll take your building pass, and you can leave your laptop on your desk. Officers, please see that Bob is gone within the next three minutes. Goodbye, Bob."

    That was one of the most amazing things I've seen in my life, and possibly one of the most heartless.

    But, it was totally legal.
    The severance check was also quite generous.
    I learned later that the firm paid the Bob a year of salary, and paid the taxes for him.

    Anyway, good luck, mate; with whatever you decide to do.
     
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  4. cynthiag

    cynthiag Active Member

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    Generally, warning letters/memos should come directly from the supervisor or manager involved, although they may ask the HR manager for input or guidance in writing them. I am the head of HR for my company, and I can't think of a time that a warning letter has gone out with my signature. The direct supervisor may ask me for my input or guidance in writing the warning, but even if they spoke to me about it, they are the ones who are actually warning their employee, and the ones who will be monitoring the employee's performance and taking further disciplinary action if it is required.

    As far as being a "final warning", maybe the wording should have been "this will be your only warning", but it means basically the same thing. This wording is not at all uncommon, and is included in most of the warnings that our supervisors do so that the employees understand the seriousness of the situation and also the possible consequences.
     
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  5. hrforme

    hrforme Active Member

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    working in IT, I would suspect your judgment (and would probably have terminated you at the time) if you decided to use a company/business laptop for personal reasons and knew it was out of policy. Convenience is not an excuse....my DH often carries two laptops when he travels -- one work related and then his personal one.

    It sounds like you just handed them a reason to give you a final warning. I would do your very best not to hand him anything else. Working from home without permission is one of them if the policy is 2 days a week and you have unilaterally given yourself 5. "loose directives" mean nothing if you dont' have an agreement to WFH 5 days a week. Just because others do, doesn't mean you can do so without permission. Again, you are handing them a very good reason to terminate you.
     
  6. netsyspro

    netsyspro Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I'm not questioning the legality if it is in fact a legitimate warning letter that is going in my file. My thinking is he has no intention of putting it in my file. However if as you say it doesn't have to be on any particular form I may be wrong. Should I not get a copy with both the managers and my signature on it? I didn't. I'll request t
    I thank everyone for their input.
    Thank you everyone for your helpful input. I wasn't challenging the legality of what was done if in fact it was a legitimate letter that is going in my record. Apparently I was wrong about it being a fake letter that isn't going in my file. Given the way it went down, the amateurish look of it, several things that were said and the fact that the copy I received didn't have any signatures on it led me to believe it was more a personal threat than an official document. Obviously this relationship is in disrepair it is a (real)threat that I need to take seriously. I have no choice but to keep my nose clean until I find another opportunity. Thank you all again.
     
  7. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't matter if he puts it in your file or not. You aren't entitled to a copy with any specific signatures. He didn't have to give you a letter at all. He could have just told you that you were fired or on a final warning.
     
  8. cynthiag

    cynthiag Active Member

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    I agree with Elle. You've been warned, whether it goes in your official file/record or not.

    It is the act of giving you the warning that matters, whether it's verbal, scrawled on a yellow legal pad, or typed up in letter or memo format. That in no way negates the action that was taken, nor does it make the warning a personal threat as opposed to a legitimate disciplinary action.
     

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