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TexLaw
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Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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During a personal vacation to Egypt at 10/20/2012, I attended

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During a personal vacation to Egypt at 10/20/2012, I attended a social dinner with one of my friends who owns a cement factory, there were 30 persons at this dinner, I found that there are two persons from one of our competitors at this dinner, this mean that I met them by accedent outside my work premises, with no discussion of competitively sensitive topic at all, I introduced myself with name only, no job and no company name.
When I returned back, and during a meeting with my manager and others including Vice president of my company, I reported this verbally and I mentioned that we should work at this country (Egypt) since we do not have good sales people there. (I am the one who reported, I could hide that)
After the meeting my manager asked me to send several emails to our sales people and copy him to help them approach this market. (He agreed that it was no issue at this time)
After few days I received several phone calls from HR asking for a meeting because my manager reported that I had competitor contact, (HE CHANGED HIS MIND)I met with HR and clarify all what was mentioned above.
They asked me to fill and submit competitor contact form, I did that, but the system said that I do not need to submit the form since no topics and no sensitive information was discussed, I informed the HR, My manager asked me to choose although it is not required you should submit it for record only, and this what the system say too “record only”
Our legal did a lot of investigation and they found that there are no issues.
Yesterday my manager asked me for a meeting, face to face and he get another manager from our group at this meeting, when I arrived he gave me a letter and asked me to sign, this letter said that after investigation there are no issue BUT you should obtain approval before joining any such meeting !! at the end of the letter there are two lines: This document serves as a formal letter warning that you must immidiatly change your conduct. Further violation of company policies or expectation will result in further discipline, up to and include discharge.
I checked our system and policies I found the following, my case is clear fall under the do not report section below:
Contact with Competitors …………company system start here
Unless there is a legitimate business reason, contact with competitors must be disclosed. Report competitor
contacts whenever competitively sensitive topics are raised.
Examples:
Sensitive conversation with a competitor at a Trade Association meeting
Meal with a competitor that included sensitive topics
Personal meeting with an ex-colleague, now working for a competitor
Communication from a competitor on a sensitive business matter, including telephone, facsimile or e-mail
communication
Business/Competition Law counsel requests you to complete a report because the discussion during a
meeting or other contact w/ a competitor in the regular course of a legitimate business relationship, e.g.,
an approved buyer/seller relationship, went beyond the legitimate, pre-approved topics

Do Not Report a competitor contact if a competitively sensitive topic was not raised.
Examples:
Meet a competitor in the regular course of a legitimate business relationship, e.g., an approved
Buyer/seller relationship, and the discussion is limited to legitimate, pre-approved topics necessary to that
Legitimate purpose and no competitively sensitive topics were raised.
Meet competitor at a Trade Association meeting and you participate at the Trade Association meeting in
Accordance with company Guidelines on Participation at Trade Association meetings.
Meet a competitor by accident outside your work premises, with no discussion of competitively sensitive
Topics.
Social meeting with a competitor, but no sensitive competitive information is discussed.
There is no CC at this letter, neither HR nor legal – my manager mentioned that this is the letter he received from legal (I am not sure) – also he did not mentioned my right to appeal at this letter. ……………………….. company system end here
I feel that he did a mistake since the submitted form I did to report this situation still open, which should be closed before sending his warning letter to me, it is still at the legal stage.
My questions are:
1- Is this warning letter legitimate?
2- What should I do, can I appeal?
3- What the Law say?
4- What is my right?
Just FYI, this manager hide major mistake he is doing within our group, which does not comply with the ISO standard, I raised it two years ago, and I continue raising it, I was the ISO rep for my company before I accept this job with this manager 5 years ago, this is the main problem that should be solved, he is afraid that I raise a concern at the system that could terminate his job.
I work for my company for 34 years, I am one of the high level engineering leaders, he works for five years only, I feel that he try to find a reason.
My manager did forget the business sales and concentrated on building a case against me.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

Thank you for your question.

The law in the US on employment issues is actually very lopsided in the employer's favor. It for the most part allows the employer to set up internal policies in whatever fashion the employer wants to. It also allows the employer to terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all unless there is a specific employment contract with the employee that provides otherwise.

In this situation, the company's internal policies regarding investigations and warning letters are not regulated by the law. So, whether or not you can appeal the finding in this letter is a matter completely up to the company's internal policies.

What I recommend that you do in this situation is send a formal dispute letter to your supervisor and to the HR department and ask that it be included in your employment file. In the dispute letter you should explain as you have above, that you did not violate any company policy regarding contact with competitors and that the warning letter is not fair and is disputed.

If you have discovered a mistake of your manager regarding ISO standards, it might be wise to speak to someone in HR about this as well to determine whether the company has any reporting requirements that you need to meet.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Please also kindly consider rating my answer positively so that I am compensated by the website for my work on your question. Rating does not cause an additional charge and will not prevent us from further discussing your questions.

Best Regards,
ZDN
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you Mr. ZDN


I will follow your advise.


I have one more question, my manager did not follow our company policy which says the following in my case, also the policy said that if you still want to submit a report, it will be for record only, now my manager did not keep it for record, he issued a warning letter to me.


OUR POLICY SAY:


Do Not Report a competitor contact if a competitively sensitive topic was not raised.


Examples:


- Meet a competitor by accident outside your work premises, with no discussion of competitively sensitive


-Social meeting with a competitor, but no sensitive competitive information is discussed.


 


Should I mention that in my letter to my manager and HR?


Since the submitted form I did still open, should I attach my letter also to this form?


Thank you


 

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

I think you should mention this in your letter.

In regard to whether you should submit the letter as an attachment to the open form, I would do this, and also print it out and physically deliver the letter to the HR person and tell them you want this included in your file.
TexLaw, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 4213
Experience: Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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