Public sector - grievance complaint against supervisor

cmalone

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A relative (male- c.50) works in a public sector Organisation. His wife has told me that a member of his staff has lodged a complaint under the grievance procedure. He is working in the department for 4 years. The individual (female - c.35) has been recording her interactions with him over the past 18 months and had submitted these as a complaint. I understand this particular staff member has a history of extended sick leave. She was not happy recently when roles internally within the office were changed.

The supervisor is clearly distressed by the thoughts of a formal investigation - given that he feels he has done nothing wrong. He never engaged directly with the complainant over the years - as other staff advised him that she was ‘dangerous’. This is clearly true based on what has happened.

Where can he get advice ? What should he do ?

I am told that the normal procedure would be for an ‘informal’ process to start - but here an outside consultant has been hired if investigate the case formally.

Does he have to actually engage in process ? What are his options.

The complainant has worked in various departments in the Organisation for around 15 years. All staff who worked with her noted that she was ‘work shy’. The current supervisor had recently improved the management structure - as her immediate immediate supervisor was ‘weak’ and had a laissez faire attitude in office - no rules or requirements. Staff coming and going as they saw fit. Essentially - a dysfunctional team
 

Peanuts20

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Not enough facts here to give more concrete advice but his first stop would probably be to his union for advice.
 

cmalone

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Thanks. Appears she recorded any contact she had with supervisor over past 18 months. The supervisor avoided direct contact with her ‘on advice’ from other staff. She listed each date in office and said ‘feeling s..t’ for each. She interpreted non speaking of supervisor as an issue. The particular supervisor she is complaining about is not a direct line manager. He is three grades higher. And the lady would have 2 other immediate kind managers. Both are weak in their roles.
 

Leper

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1. What's happening here (going by evidence provided only) is not unusual.
2. A written case is being constructed over the past 18 months. (There might be or not be a case to be answered).
3. Allegations regarding the complainant's work ethic over the previous 15 years are probably not relevant.
4. What is relevant is each point the complainant is making.
5. Regulations regarding Sick Leave are written in stone of what a supervisor can and cannot do. Likely, there is a medical officer involved.
6. We don't know if the supervisor was wrong in all or some or none of what is alleged.
7. The supervisor avoiding direct contact on advice from other staff is under scrutiny. Why let problem(s) fester? What action was taken to alleviate the situation? Are other members of staff prepared to supply reasons avoiding direct contact? Are these verbal or written? Is he hiding behind no contact?
8. Has the supervisor taken written notes along the way?

From my experience as an unpaid union rep this is a serious allegation against the supervisor. I would not be inclined to represent anybody with no case to be answered. If there is a case to be answered the supervisor is in danger of (i) Sanction (ii) An endorsement on his personnel records (iii) Suspension (iv) Dismissal.

If there is no case to be answered the complainant is open to (i) Sanction (ii) Entry in her personnel records (iii) Suspension (iv) Dismissal.

Whatever is happening in the department cannot be ignored. I cannot supply more advice until more information is supplied.
 

cmalone

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Very helpful advice. The supervisor was actually reluctant to discuss the details of complaint until today with me. When we read through the allegations they refer to the supervisor’s own manager in the main (who was the lady’s de facto supervisor due to particular duties he has given her). The allegations against the supervisor I know are generally complaints about his management style and his actual right to manage the section. The complainant feels she should not be managed and not subject to normal procedures for an efficient office. Appreciate all the feedback as it’s a stressful time for my friend. But - wonder what happens when the lady’s complaints are found to not be actual grievances. Is she to return to same office as if nothing happened ?
 

Leper

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Hi CMalone,
The wheels of action have been activated. There can be no going back now. The complainant is either wrong or right and the same goes for the supervisor and the supervisor's supervisor. The allegations cannot be ignored. It will be interesting to see the outcome when it occurs. I am stunned by the opinion of the complainant that she should not be managed and she believes she is not subject to normal procedures. Is she God? And I thought her sick leave situation was at the core of all this. I reckon there is much more under what appears to be a shallow surface.
 

mathepac

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The individual (female - c.35) has been recording her interactions with him over the past 18 months and had submitted these as a complaint.
Surely this is illegal? Anywhere I worked the only recording equipment allowed on premises were devices installed by my employer for personal notetaking, security or training purposes. If recording were made by the complainant contrary to company policy or the law they cannot be used as evidence.
 

Purple

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Surely this is illegal? Anywhere I worked the only recording equipment allowed on premises were devices installed by my employer for personal notetaking, security or training purposes. If recording were made by the complainant contrary to company policy or the law they cannot be used as evidence.
Recording can mean keeping a log or written record.
 

cmalone

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Recording by diary. Nothing untoward in this I expect. However, her ‘diary’ entries are embellished with emotions and claims about other staff. The supervisor is mindful to approach the other staff listed for comment - would this be helpful or appropriate ? The particular lady does think she is a ‘god’ and feels aggrieved for being subjected to treatment similar to other staff in department.
 

Leper

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Note of Caution:- We have heard only one side (and 2nd hand at that) of at least a 3 sided story. I'm not saying that CMalone isn't telling the full truth.

It appears the case is being well monitored and recorded by at least the staff member. This is normal procedure and I have advised fellow workers (if they feel they have ongoing grievances) to make notes of the occasions (a) What was said including tone (b) Witnesses (c) Date and Time (d) How you felt during and since.

The written word can be a powerful "weapon" if the complainant is seen as a victim. I have also advised "victims" that management will be recording matters extensively. Every person is entitled to take accurate notes.

The employee here thinks she is a 'god' - emotive description and perhaps true, but another thing to prove.

If the case proceeds to a senior management hearing (or even court) there may be casualties. Hearings and Courts are bland places and subsequently people can be sacked and awards given. I have supported some employees at such events and believe me they are end of the line events and the outcome is not always what is expected.
 

cmalone

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No side taken or intended. The lady in question has ‘manufactured’ her version of events that can be disproved by the other named colleagues/ union reps etc she claimed were present on occasion.

Should the manager seek statements from such persons ? She has inferred how these names people felt / were treated etc - they have advised that manager that they did not feel distressed/ aggrieved or insulted by the manager’s conduct.

The complainant is the only person in the office of c. 15 people that ‘feels’ like this. She now claims that her extended sick leave over past two years was due to ‘work related stress’ and not the actual reasons provided on sick certs.

She appears to have ‘orchestrated’ scenarios on the basis that she needed to write something in her diary. She forced herself into other people’s conversations with manager so she could write about such incidents - which were unconnected to her.

I do appreciate anyone can genuinely suffer stress in work situation for a variety or reasons. The manager already has a number of people in this category who have ‘positive attitude’ throughout and attempt to do their best despite their conditions. This lady appears to be reluctant to take direction from a manager and now wants time off...
 

Leper

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1. If the situation goes to a hearing the only things relevant will be (a) How the complainant felt (b) What was actually said/demonstrated by the supervisor.
2. How other members of staff felt is irrelevant. (But, I get the impression the complainant is screwing them too).
3. The supervisor can call on witnesses to the events. Senior management can ask for written statements from them beforehand.
4. When push comes to shove will her work colleagues provide the full information? (Could they play the I-don't-want-to-be-involved card?)
5. I would also bet that the complainant will use the old "extended sick leave trick." Be careful of one thing:- She does not have to state the illness written on the medical certificates.
6. From the information provided the complainant appears to be a manipulative person. This may not be difficult to prove.
7. The complainant now wants more time off - Are her whole efforts merely a ruse to obtain time off for whatever reason? I have come across such situations and if there were odds in PaddyPower my money would be on this.
8. There is a good chance that a Medical Report will be requested by management before any hearing. They may have this already from previous sick leave. I reckon management will still seek another medical report. The main issue will be:- Is the employee fit to carry the full range of duties? If not (or if lighter duties are suggested by the Medical Officer) retirement on grounds of ill health will be on the cards.
 

DeeKie

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Your relative should keep their own notes from now on. They should not speak to others without discussion with union rep.
 

cmalone

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Very good advice all round - thanks to everyone. Leper - your analysis appears to be very close to what I was told about case. Lady remains off ‘sick leave ‘. Expect she is on half pay or less at this stage - it’s a difficult scenario for all. Supervisor is adamant he treated all staff the same and fairly throughout. Complainant even noted that his staff meetings were annoying to her. - he introduced Rita for Arusha duties and she was ‘stressed’ he having to be part of a team and do her share. She said the previous non Rita system worked. Etc etc - luckily I don’t work in sucn e work place.
 

Feemar5

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I know of somebody who took a similar claim and had recorded incidents for months - she went on sick leave due to stress but the outcome was that she was not treated unfairly, tried to take a court case but that did not proceed as I believe the solicitor advised against it.
 
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