Salary paid time off and harassment at work

Sorry, it’s been a while since I posted here but I need help and I can’t find anyone else with answers.

I work for a company with several locations across the country. At our place, there has been some kind of tension between members of management for almost as long as it’s been open and as of the last two to three years, I’ve been part of management. I’ve worked at a lot of places during my fairly lengthy adult life, but few if any have been this bad. The plant manager, who did a pretty good job of keeping things under control and making me feel like I could talk to him and get some resolution out of it quit about a month ago. Before that, I mostly steered clear of the drama, but now it’s like a bunch of kids on the playground. Trust me, I’m looking for another job desperately but until then, I need a strategy, even if it means I have no future with this company.

In general, it’s as if factions are forming and maintenance/engineering are getting the bad end of the deal. We’re constantly being harassed. Unfortunately it’s not because we’re in a protected class as we’re multicultural just like they are, so it’s hard to claim racism or anything of the sort. The company is sending temporary plant managers from other plants who stay a week or two and then leave. I’m lucky if I can get more than a few words out of them the whole week they’re here. On the other hand, I’ve seen others stay in there for hours talking to them and I hoped at least one of them would see through the bullshit, but they don’t seem to care. Last week, I had four hours of paid time off taken off my account because I was told I was short on my hours, but I was only two hours late that day and stayed two hours late to make up for it. I’m pretty sure I know the exact person who talked this into happening, and she actually got to leave two hours early because of me staying late.

I’ve e-mailed local HR, the head of HR, and even the vice president and nothing happens. My e-mails are usually two or three pages long with evidence to back them up and all I get in return is a couple of sentences at most telling me they’re doing something about it but I know from years of this that it’s a lie.

Can you tell me, can I talk to the wage and hour division of the Department of Labor to get my paid time off back (I still have a lot of it but it’s the principle that matters) and is there a government entity that deals with extreme workplace harassment when it isn’t racism, sexism, etc.? I’m kind of surprised that upper management doesn’t do much to keep things under control when they know that there are very few of us that can keep that place going, but if they’re not, I’d like to do what I can to make it better for my coworkers before I leave. For the record, this was once the best place I ever worked but with certain people having left, it’s become the worst.

The only real advice I can offer is that documentation is your friend here. What matters is how many of your claims can you prove? Keep filing reports with HR and keep hard copies of all communications with them.

Keep looking for your next job.

What Alpha Twit says is worthwhile - document everything, although short, precise emails are probably better than two or three pages. Just “this is what happened, this is the proof that it was wrong”. One email per issue, if possible.

What exactly do you need to talk to the temporary manager about? Workplace issues in general? That probably won’t work. If there is ONE specific, ongoing issue that a temp manager can address or resolve, then schedule a half hour or so meeting and be prepared when you get to the meeting.

To be blunt, it depends on what your position is, and how directly you contribute to the company’s bottom line. You won’t be able to fix the company’s problems, and the more important you are, the better your chance of fixing your own problems.

Good luck in your job search.


HR’s one and only job is to make the company run smoothly. Smoothly from the CEO’s point of view, that is. If you are being (in the eyes of anyone in HR) high-maintenance, demanding, or just irritating to them, out you go.

HR is going to do what’s convenient for the boss, with no reference whatsoever to ideas of right and wrong.

If you are looking for another job already, then the only advice you can use at this job is: Keep your head down, don’t rock the boat. If you rock the boat, you get thrown overboard.

The only exception is if you personally outrank the head of the HR department.

(I guess there’s another exception, if you’re itching to get made an example of - if you want to get fired tomorrow, just to prove a point. That didn’t seem likely.)

Unless you have unambiguous evidence of criminal wrongdoing. It doesn’t sound to me like you have that.

Speaking with 35 years of working in manufacturing, the last 15 in management.

IME, either the situation is as bad as (or worse than) you perceive it, or your perception is skewed. If it is the former, upper management will take care of it. Not out of a sense of fairness or altruism, but because it causes a problem that affects profits and those are the kinds of things that upper management takes care of. If, on the other hand, it is your perception of the issues, then you have to change your outlook.

Funny thing, regardless of which one it is, your best course of action is ignore it and do your job. Yes, look for other opportunities (you should always be doing that). Yes, try to change things from within, without creating enemies (again, you should always be doing that, too). But, to run away without a better place to go is not only self-destructive, but it robs you of a vital life-lesson experience; how to deal professionally with people whose goals and concerns are not only not in line with yours, but likely issues you aren’t even aware of.

It sounds like management is trying to fix things. The “musical plant manager” is acknowledgement that there is a problem and they are looking for a manager who can deal with it. Corporate management wants the problem to “go away” without them getting involved, since these types of things are poison to Corporate-level managers. They can only hurt them, they cannot help them. Nobody has gotten past the first rung on the corporate ladder by getting involved in the politics of an ongoing business, and they know it. They know it needs to be done, but they aren’t going to touch it, lest they get some of it on them.

So, stick it out. Find a new position, but don’t run. Learn. When they get a new manager, don’t run to him with your problems, but see how you can help him with his, starting with how your department is ready and capable. And, talk to your local HR about the time thing, not corporate. It really is a local issue. Ask your HR that if you are salary, and you make up your time and get your job done, what else are you supposed to do? Don’t worry about what you see others do, worry about what others see you doing.

Good Luck!

With all the management turnover, make sure you get any important agreements in writing. Even if today’s manager says you can take a day off, tomorrow’s manager might not let you take it.

That’s great that you want to make it better, but only do so if it requires a minimal amount of effort and stress. It’s like trying to stop a forest fire with a bucket. Whatever small change you manage to accomplish will quickly be erased by management incompetence.

The fact is, it’s almost impossible for low-level employees to effect change to get a company on track. If the upper-level management doesn’t care or doesn’t know what they’re doing, they’ll continue to make bad decisions that take the company off track. In addition, the well-intentioned employee may be seen as a troublemaker for daring to even suggest that management doesn’t know what they are doing. You mention lengthy emails to HR, but that probably is hurting you more than you realize. It’s sad it works like that, but that’s the corporate world.

Prove to whom? That’s what I’d like to know. Being salary, I’m not sure how I can prove when I got there, but via my nightly reports, I can prove I stayed two hours late.

I wasn’t going to be so precise but here it is. I’m an engineer / second shift maintenance supervisor and it’s mostly the quality manager we’re having trouble with. I talked to local HR about this taking of half a day and she was told I missed a few hours and it was forced on her from above her pay grade. From that and the fact that the quality manager has been going around saying that the only other management on second shift and I have been working some “funny” hours (we have to since there are only two of us. It was approved by the previous plant manager and they don’t plan on replacing that third guy any time soon since things are going to slow down), I can pretty well deduce that she talked to the plant manager of the week and told him I wasn’t working my hours, even though like I said I stayed and closed the shop last night so she could go early. Then he told HR to take some hours away arbitrarily. I’m salary so I have no way to prove when I arrive and neither do they.

And don’t tell me to talk to anyone in the company about this. A couple of us have been sending letter after letter to the head of HR and the president but they don’t pay attention. It’s completely bizarre because if the two of us leave, the plant might as well shut down (not to sound egotistical, but there are so many things only we know). The plant manager before damn sure knew it and made sure we were content but that’s not the case now. I think the other guy that’s in my position is still writing letters but I’ve given up on that. The only chance is the federal government if they’ll do anything or leave.

Also, if anyone knows of a phone app that actually records when I’m at a place to help me prove how many hours I’m there, that would be great. I’ve asked people in person but no one can recommend anything. I’m not talking some complete spy tool but just something that I can tell it, “when I’m within 500 feet of this building, record that I’m present.”

If you are salary, check with your state. My understanding is that in most states under most conditions you cannot get paid as if you were hourly (hence the exempt status if you work overtime). You don’t get comp time but on the other hand if you need to work 80 hours a week to do your job then that’s what you do.

If you truly want to slash and burn your position at work, document all of the days and weeks you worked overtime and file a complaint with your state on the basis that if they pay you like an hourly employee they owe you all of the OT you worked.

Do you have to have some kind of security badge that you use to get into work? We do at my place of business and I know, from having taken some manger training, that it is logged even if it is not used for clocking in. Normally, no one looks at them, but they will if there is some kind of concern.


I would disagree with this.
HR’s one and only job is to save the company money. That includes getting the best talent for the cheapest price, the lowest cost insurance plan, and preventing lawsuits against the company by making sure all laws are being followed.

That said, if there are problems in the company like the OP describes, HR will not be fixing them. You need to go to upper management. Maybe try approaching as a group rather than as an individual. Harder to overlook a problem when 60% of the department is standing in your office with the same complaint.

Many e mail two or three pages long? You need to learn how to KISS it. Keep it simple stupid. A two or three paragraph complaint letter is a long one. I doubt that your letters are even being read that is why nothing is happening. You are a supervisor how do you respond to an employee you are supervising who goes on and on about a problem?

For now if you must e mail about a problem keep it short as possible and then make it shorter. Example about the docked pay.

Write how you do not understand why you were docked pay after working the required number of hours. If you want to add to give the days and hours that you work. Ask where the confusion is. Keep it simple.
As you look for work find a way to document when you come into the plant, when you take lunch and return from lunch and finally when you leave the plant. Do you have log sheets or any other paper work that is dated and timed. Place a call to someone. E mail you wife that you just go to the office. Something. Look at your contract and be sure just how many hours you are required to work. Keep track of what hours you work each day. And consider consulting with a labor lawyer.

On my iPhone (Android as well, IIRC) I can use Google Timeline to see where my phone has been and for how long.

Google maps will do that if the location services are on, if you have an Android phone. You can actually go into the Maps client and into “Your Timeline”, and it’ll show where you were on the map, and when.

Don’t work funny hours anymore. Work the hours you’re told to work. If you’re time shifting your hours, get the correct person to approve it in writing before you go outside your assigned hours.

If this becomes a problem that hits the plant manager’s desk, you can say with utmost truthfulness “I was swapping time with Manager X to get the work done, but went back to working only my assigned hours after I was docked my time off for doing so.”

  1. Document everything, every day. What time you arrive, what time you leave. Lunch. Projects. Meetings. Agreements with other teams or management. All of it.
  2. Stick precisely to your job description UNLESS you have a written agreement with HR and management signing off on it. Clock in when required. Leave when required.

Things might break, but it sounds like things need to break. You are invested in your job, which can be a good thing. You are also learning that they are not so invested in you. Look out for yourself and stop busting your ass to make things work out.

Keep looking for work. It sounds like your company has been dysfunctional for a while and I doubt it will get fixed. You should get out when you can.

This. Re-read these two lines. Take them to heart.

Companies want dedication and loyalty but it’s almost always a one-way street. I once stayed far too long at a job after things got bad. I was needlessly sentimental about the company because they’d been good to me in the past, and I imagined I’d feel some sort of emotional loss if I were no longer there. That turned out not to be the case at all.

I have no idea what the market is like for your particular skill set, but from your descriptions it sounds like somebody will want your services. And once you’re gone from your current situation you’ll wonder why you put up with their crap for so long.

Best of luck to you.

You don’t really need an app or anything special. A pencil and piece of paper work fine. You just have to fill it I out every day and never forget. If people want to doubt your documentation, they are going to doubt it regardless of what it is. Once you have it written down, it’s what they call “hard evidence”, which means someone would have to have some compelling evidence that your record is incorrect in order to dismiss it. My experience is that people in these situations aren’t going to work that hard, they’ll just switch to another excuse and see if that sticks.

I know nothing about this situation other than what you have related in this thread, but it sounds to me as if management is putting pressure on quality. Quality, knowing that blaming the workers isn’t going to fly, blames maintenance. I’m guessing that part of that blame resulted in the quality manager saying something like “2nd shift is never here. Just the other day, I saw him come in two hours late and nothing was ever said, and this happens all the time”. Acting manager asks a few questions and finds out that this is true (but doesn’t find out the real story) so he tells HR to dock your pay rather than confront you himself (which would require him to get involved, something he really doesn’t want to do). You get the message, he gets to go back to his own plant with his own problems and life goes on.

Have you spoken to the quality manager directly, one on one? Not confrontational, but just to try and find out their side of the story. Also, there must be a first shift maintenance/engineering supervisor, have you talked to him? Not in a “here’s a problem I need you to fix” kind of way, but more of a “I don’t know what I can do” kind of way. Trust me, your finding your own solution to this problem will make you a much more valuable employee (not just to this company, but any other company you go to work for) and will be mush better for you, personally, than any solution management comes up with.