Friday, March 29, 2013

In Trouble at Work? Think You May Need an Employment Lawyer? Some Things to Ponder

I am in Trouble at Work - What Can I Do?

First, you must consider your employment status. Then you must HONESTLY assess the reasons for your precarious position.  Finally, you must understand the way various laws work, and how you may be able to use them to your advantage, or to at least minimize the damage.

We explore each of these propositions below.

NOTE:  We are not discussing discrimination, hostile work environment, unlawful retaliation, wrongful termination, etc., in this Post.  Click Here for the full rundown on all such employment laws. 

There is a Word for At-Will Workers
Who Do This:  "Fired!" 
You Are Probably an At-Will Employee

First thing to understand is that, with few exceptions (Unions, Government employees, executives with contracts), you are employed at-will.  That means you may be fired for good reason (repeated violation of work rules after warning, insubordination, true poor performance, sleeping on the job, coming to work under the influence, etc.), a bad reason (petty politics, being falsely accused of misdeeds, perceived poor performance, etc.) or no reason at all (i.e. loss of job through no fault of your own such as layoff, reduction in force, etc.).

What this means, in a nutshell, is that neither management nor your fellow employees are legally obligated to treat you fairly, with respect or in an honest fashion.  Moreover, management is free to favor one employee over another (unless due to unlawful motives, discussed Here) and there are no laws that require otherwise.

Basically, if you are an at-will employee, you are at the mercy of your employer if you find yourself  in hot water.  There is no "authority," beyond management within your company, that can help you.

They Won't Come if You Call
About an Unfair Situation at Work

CONSIDER:  If after being awakened one night by an intruder you call the police, they will come and assist you.  However, there are no "civil police" that you can call who will come to your office if the boss is being mean, or if a co-worker is lying about you behind your back.

Why Are You in This Predicament? Why is My Job in Jeopardy?

This is the hard question.  Burnout could certainly be a factor.  Click Here to read a superb article from Lisa M. Gerry of discussing the burnout phenomenon. 

My experience is that people who believe that they are being treated unfairly at work often complain to management, believing that the company will support them and treat them fairly.  Problems escalate when the company does not respond in a way the complaining employee feels is appropriate.  Soon after, the employee begins to feel disfavored, excluded and targeted.  That is when I am usually called to provide guidance.

Here are some realities for an at-will employee, based upon my experience since 1991:

*  HR will almost always side with your manager/boss/supervisor;

*  Management will always expect you to respect its decisions and to follow its orders;

*  Companies do not like people who complain, and will often target them for termination, or try to make them quit;

Working With Adults No Different
*  If your co-employee is out to get you, it is best to find a solution with him/her.  The rules of the playground control at work.  If you complain about your co-worker, you will often fall out of favor withe management.  Hold your friends close, and your enemies closer;

*  If the situation seems unmanageable and beyond repair, it probably is.  Best to lay low and start looking for a new job.

I am sure all of these notions strike many of you as harsh and unfeeling.  However, twenty-plus years of working with management and employees have made clear to me that, like it or not, the above-principles are largely immutable.

That is reality, unfortunately.

Being Treated Unfairly at Work? Are You Working in a Hostile Work Environment? What Can You Do/What Should You Not Do?

If your job is salvageable, it is most likely salvageable only if you "kiss the ring" of your employer by acknowledging that you recognize that you need to be a better job as an employee.  Meanwhile, try and build bridges with the supervisor or co-worker(s) causing you trouble.

Don't Let Them Make You Quit

If you believe that your job cannot be saved, then DO NOT QUIT.  Make them fire you.  Do your
best job, do not do anything "stupid" and make them fire you.  That is the best way to increase your chances for a severance package (people who quit almost never get severance pay) and unemployment benefits.

In some situations, you may want to take Family and Medical Leave (for stress, etc.) in order to give yourself an opportunity to seek a new job while you are still officially employed.

These are admittedly complicated situations, and I have met with many troubled workers to help them navigate through these difficult situations. 

            Philadelphia Are Employment Labor Lawyer Representing Employees

Helping Pennsylvania Workers Since 1991

Philadelphia Area Employment Attorney Representing Employees
John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania. 

John typically represents employees who need an employment lawyer in Philadelphia County, Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Berks County, Lancaster County and Montgomery County.

Pennsylvania Employment Attorney Provides Free Telephone Consultations

If you are looking for an employment lawyer, and live in Malvern, Wayne, King of Prussia, Downingtown, Glenside, Doylestown, Radnor, Newtown Square, Exton, Philadelphia, West Chester, Skippack, Langhorne, Haverford, Nether Providence, Broomall, Drexel Hill, Reading or any of their surrounding towns, feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call.  I am always glad to spend some time with people via a free telephone consultation.

Need an Employment Labor Lawyer Near Philadelphia?

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues

Click Here to e-mail John directly.

Thanks for checking in with us.

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