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Being pushed

I need your advice.

I'm being replaced by another programmer from an outsourcing company. My boss, who doesn't have many social skills, instead of taking me to a room and talking to me face to face, has decided to make my life hell.
The entire IT department has been recruited to push me around, whether they like it or not - some of them are my friends who have told me that they were ordered to mistreat me. Of course they only do it in front of my boss.

My boss's boss isn't aware of what's happening, and I seriously doubt he would do something about it. I've seen this happen to somebody else and ha didn't move a muscle.

Now, what would you guys do?

RP
Thursday, November 20, 2003

I'm confused. You said that your boss is behind this, but you also say he isn't aware of what's going on.

Are they trying to get you to quit before they have to lay you off?

Mark Hoffman
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Just do critical mistake everytime someone "push" you and blame it on them.

Milton
Thursday, November 20, 2003

If this is in the US, there is a concept called "constructive termination". It basically means that your employer is choosing to terminate you by creating an intolerable work environment.  Cases like this can be brought to court and can result in your being paid unemployment, and/or damages for harrasment itself. (IANAL) I've worked in lots of companies that have done this. The company is generally counting on its people rolling over and taking it.

I would document what is being said that is abrasive and abusive, and I would find an employment attorney and spend an hour on a consultation to explore your options.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Along with BB, you need documentation.  Be certain to file any exceptional offenses with HR.  To protect themselves legally, they will need to investigate. 

I saw a person on our team get a free right to retirement after filing and winning a complaint. 

anon
Thursday, November 20, 2003

-This is not legal advice-

If I understand correctly in order to have a case you must have raised a complaint with the company first, in order that they can 'correct' the situation.

Mr Jack
Thursday, November 20, 2003

In the UK it is called "constructive dismissal".  Big no no. 

Wherever you are the first thing to do is to keep a diary logging the issues, the second get local legal advice -  legal systems vary. 

Don't write off your firm's internal grievance procedure - but make sure you've documented things first. 

A cynic writes
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Start leaving magazines like "Soldier of Fortune" lying around the office. Brag about your shiny new automatic weapon. Visit websites about wacky cults, militias, and militant groups and ask your colleagues which of them they think you should join for a little "excitement".

Actually I doubt it would work, but as a shen it has potential
Thursday, November 20, 2003

If you are already being replaced, why is he making your life hell?

Tapiwa
Thursday, November 20, 2003

> Now, what would you guys do?

Prepare to leave soon. You have being notified.

Evgeny Gesin /Javadesk/
Thursday, November 20, 2003

I had to train my replacement starting in August and ending just a few weeks ago. Unlike you, I now am looking forward to a severance. Take other's advice on the lawyer and documentation. As far as training your replacement, keep a positive attitude for your own sake. There is nothing positive about the situation, but play a game in your mind "they are there for your amusement". :)

m
Thursday, November 20, 2003

What do you mean by "push you around", exactly?

Mister Fancypants
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Basically small insults, criticising everything I do, being generally abusive when I'm around.

RP
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Is it legal to tape record conversations where people admit this to you, or record when you're being abused?  I realize this is rather extreme behavior, but they're doing something extremely immoral.  No matter what kind of employee you are, only a bad boss can do this.

Obviously legal advice is important.  I have always wondered why people do not just carry recording devices all the time, because free people should be able to record what they expereince.

anonymous
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Again, talk to a lawyer. A bunch of programmers can't substitute for proper legal advice.

The comment about investigating your company's HR policies is a good one and I would try that first. At least in the US, companies are really big these days on *appearing* respectful to individuals. (the reality is almost always different.)  If that doesn't net anything, legal advice would be the next logical step.

An initial consultation (generally pretty cheap, since it's partially the lawyer's marketing/sales session) should allow you to determine where you stand and what action on your part is appropriate.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Absolutely consult a lawyer, but I would also recommend a CYA strategy of getting your resume together and beginning the search for a new job.

anon
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Talk to a lawyer and if you are in the US, make sure they specialize in Employment Law (may be true elsewhere, but I know it is here).

They can tell you what you need to do, so you can later file a complaint.  They can also send a note for you to HR, and your boss indicating they may be asked to investigate.

MSHack
Thursday, November 20, 2003

While your waiting for some valid legal advice, keep an incident diary.

Record the date, time, and details of each incident.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Then post it on JOS.

It makes for interesting reading.

Alyosha`
Thursday, November 20, 2003

If the boss's boss doesn't know anything about it, then it can't be expected that he'd do anything about it.

Did the boss's boss know about the prior instance of this?

njkayaker
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Besides working the legal/HR angle, you might want to schedule some time with your boss and boss’s boss to discuss this situation. Explain to him that you feel something has happened, unbeknownst to you, in the last few weeks/days where you feel maybe his confidence is lacking in your work. Ask him to outline a plan and specific measurable expectations of you for the next several weeks/months. If they cannot tell you what their expectations are, how are you to meet them. This is certainly acting on your part, but adds to your case that you have made every effort to accommodate the needs of the company. Most large companies have a 90 day performance plan they will put you on if they are unhappy with you. This will mean you any further problems and you are gone. You should beat them to the punch and get these measurable expectations so you can show you are following them before they can try to use it against you.

m
Thursday, November 20, 2003

The writing's on the wall -- you are going to be dumped and your employer wants to make it as unpleasant as possible for you.

Given this, the mitts are off. The social contract doesn't apply anymore.

The healthiest response here some have hinted at -- Don't get mad, get even.

Yes, see an attorney and document everything that happens to you.

At the same time, get your revenge. Pee in the bosses coffee if you like I suppose. Send anonymous reports to MS and the RIAA of all the programs and CDs the company has illegally pirated. Any thing nasty but barely legal you can think of, do. This is one of those rare cases -- where you have absolute verification that some one is trying to destry your life, in which it is totally ethical and excusabel to screw them back over big time.

But don't get caught.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Also, whatever you do, don't quit.

If they want to fire you, let them be men about it (or let it drag on indefinately).  Don't allow them to force you to quit (which impacts your ability to collect unemployment, among other things).

Mister Fancypants
Thursday, November 20, 2003

"In the UK it is called "constructive dismissal".  Big no no."

The problem is that in the US, most employment is "at will" -- which means that an employee can quit, or be fired, at any time for any reason.  (There are certain exceptions, like you can't fire someone for racially discriminatory reasons, e.g.)

If an employer can legally dismiss an employee, it can also constructively dismiss the same employee.  (However, as BB says, you should still be entitled to unemployment benefits.)  The only exception is if the harassment becomes so severe that the harassment itself constitutes grounds for a lawsuit, like sexual harassment or physical abuse.  Receiving disparaging comments from coworkers probably doesn't rise to that level, though.

The best advice for now would be to turn the other cheek (and look for other employement.)  Otherwise, nicely confront your boss's boss or your boss's boss's boss and tell him to put up or shut up -- end the harassment or lay me off.  Of course, document everything.

Do NOT act up and start causing problems.  Then they can fire you, which means no unemployment benefits.

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Employment case law is changing. Some folks are now winning cases brought on grounds of emotional harassment/mental abuse. Also, have been a few that have won disability payments based on work-based mental cruelty.

Sue them hard sue them long
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Do you have a contract with the company?

Bill
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Courts - and settlement negotiations - pay a lot of attention to documentation, so the most important thing to do is write everything down in a little diary.

Generate a few emails if you can and print them out. Tell your boss you're being insulted and abused. Record what he does or doesn't do.

You actually can have a lot of fun.

Instead of hiring a lawyer, you could join a union, who will have a workplace organiser who would be about ten times tougher and smarter than a lawyer, from what I've seen. Lawyers often consider that the employer might represent future business, so they avoid pushing too much. A workplace advocate will push your interests.

Been there
Thursday, November 20, 2003

RP, face it - you are deluded and you are imagining all this nonsense. I think you need psychotherapy. Maybe your boss's boss will pay for it?

Satsuma
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Perhaps your boss is doing you a fovor.  Is it possible he is supposed to terminate you on a certain date, but is not allowed to tell you about it?(then again, if you *quit*....).

Vince
Thursday, November 20, 2003

this story is a troll. if an american company didn't like you, they would just fire you. why would they continue PAYING YOUR SALARY and also pushing you around? if you are working in japan, it might be a different story. I don't know about the rest of the world.

sven
Thursday, November 20, 2003

>> this story is a troll. if an american company didn't like you, they would just fire you.

Absolute bullsh*t. What an ignorant statement. They want RP out.

US companies avoid firing people (even when the employee is antagonistic) because there is always the possibility of a lawsuit. And most companies want to avoid the  morale stench created by a firing, at all costs. So the prevailing practice tends to be to make the workplace undesirable for the employee. Make the employee walk, so it looks voluntary and so no unemployment needs to be paid.

The device generally used to do this is the "probationary period". One slip-up and the employee is toast. And it tends to be legally airtight because the premise is that the employee is "in trouble" and he needs to keep a spotless record during this period in order to make amends.

This story sounds more like a company that probably "should" be using a probationary period device but is too clueless to understand the liability they're incurring for themselves.

YES, most of the US uses at-will employment law. In theory you can be fired instantly for any reason except certain specified cases (protected groups, etc). In practice, most companies would rather avoid the confrontation. So they do slimy things like this.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, November 20, 2003

I don't know where you have worked, bored bystander, but in my experience, if a company wants to fire someone, they just fire them. I'm assuming he is a white (or asian) male. Companies aren't afraid of lawsuits from these people. They are afraid of being sued when they fire pregnant women.

The beginning of RP's post signals an imaginary situation. He already knows he is being replaced, so he's losing his job anyway. So the company has decided to make his last days hellish, just for fun? There are a lot of sadists in middle management, but I just don't buy this particular story.

sven
Thursday, November 20, 2003

>>So the company has decided to make his last days hellish, just for fun

I expect having this person quit would be much cheaper for the company than making them redundant - hence the not-so-gentle persuasion going on.

To the original poster: Most people at work need to worry about their coworker/boss's opinion of them. You are now free of this worry - you know they want you out. So do the absolute bare minimum of work (and do that slowly). Ignore threats and insults - you no longer need to care what these people think of you.

Decide beforehand how long you're willing to keep up this sort of passive resistance in the hope of a redundancy and don't go over it. Polish the 'ol resume and start looking.

AndrewR
Thursday, November 20, 2003

sven, you've lived a sheltered life. There are plenty of people and plenty of situations who will turn on you and change their treatment once it's known you're getting sacked.

It's the way some people deal with inferiors. It's also a protective mechanism, since people don't want to be seen associating with the guy who's getting sacked.

And there are complete jerks who rebel in this. In other times, they would have been the soliders who killed prisoners.

.
Thursday, November 20, 2003

In the companies I've worked for, lots of incompetent people have been kept around just because nobody wants to be responsible for firing them.  Sometimes the managers are afraid of legal repercussions, sometimes they just can't stand being the "bad guy."

I have no idea what's really going on here, but the story is plausible to me.  I'm sure there's another side to it though.

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, November 20, 2003

"The entire IT department has been recruited to push me around, whether they like it or not - some of them are my friends who have told me that they were ordered to mistreat me. Of course they only do it in front of my boss."

sorry. i still don't believe it. doubters, peform a thought experiment. imagine you, at your company. with your manager. imagine the scenario described in quotations above. completely ludicrous. the boss has an all hands meeting to instruct the IT department to mistreat a specific individual? "ok all you help desk admins. I wan't you all to treat RP like shit for the next two weeks. Whenever you see him, make cracks about his mother. Bump into him in the hallway. Park your car in his spot. Steal his sandwich from the fridge." Not plausible. Internet troll. Get a life, folks.

sven
Friday, November 21, 2003

sven, it's true that RP's description of the problem sounds a bit raw. It could be either way.

It could be a psychology student doing a test for her term paper (I posted this scenario to JOS and observed these reactions ....) or maybe RP exagerates a little. I could see a situation such as RP describes arising by osmosis, but not, as you point out, by fiat.

.
Friday, November 21, 2003

To sven

I am not in the US. I only saw your remarks the day after I posted this.
Here in my country (inside the EU) the law makes it almost impossible to fire people.
And since my boss doesn't know what to do, he creates this little hell.

RP
Friday, November 21, 2003

In that case -- get a lawyer. Get documentation. And then find another job.

You quit, take the other job, and then file for constructive dismissal. If you can make a case for anything else as well, do that. Basically, to me, this looks like they want to make you redundant, but can't because if they make the position redundant, they can't then immediately outsource it.

Gather all the evidence you can, and then get your legal to talk to their legal.

Katie Lucas
Friday, November 21, 2003

Well if the goal is to get rid of him, of course it makes sense just to fire him.

If the goal is to be mean, then firing him and making his life hell on the way out, also makes sense.

And no, I don't think it improbable that some people's goal is to be mean. Of course there are people like that. Or people with other goals who will go all round the houses to accomplish a seemingly straightforward task. It makes no sense if you assume that their goal is to accomplish the task, but when you realize that their actual purpose is to revel in manipulation or control-freakery, their behaviour becomes decipherable.

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, November 21, 2003

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