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John
John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 2653
Experience:  Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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Ive been employed at the same place for 15 years. I have a

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I've been employed at the same place for 15 years. I have a solid reputation with my colleagues and clients. Last year, I was honored with one of the most beligerent customers I've ever known in my entire career. The person went as far as calling my home and insulting me. Finally, I turned the situation to my supervisor. At a meeting her behavior was just as verbally abusive. This year her case went to another employee, as she publicly stated more abusive comments about me in front of other customers. The new employee brought similar concerns to her attention as I did last year, so as of today she is taking her business elsewhere. The customer took the opportunity to come into the building "verbal guns blazing" since she wouldn't have to answer for her behavior the next day referring to me as an unprofessional piece of sh... And other explicits." I contacted administration and followed them to the office. The woman continues to talk. I then told her "you have a problem, let's go inside and discuss it" today I was told I would be written up for unprofessionalism (talking to the abusive customer instead of taking it from her without saying anything). I am a member of a union which in the state of Florida seems pretty weak and I've never been written up before. The union told me I was in a "double edge sword" situation in which 'the customer is always right' but at the same time there's been a pattern of this customers abusive behavior and personal attacks. Any tips for handling this meeting
Ps- the most horrible part is that I'm a teacher... And the abuse came from a parent.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  John replied 9 months ago.
Hi, My name is XXXXX XXXXX X’m happy to assist you with your question today. Because you are a union member, you have all the rights under the collective bargaining agreement to "just cause" in your employment - this means a fair and accurate investigation and procedure - along with a right to be heard and that the punishment fit the crime. In this situation I'm doubtful that there is a school or district policy that requires you not confront disgruntled parents with their matters. Generally what would be considered "just cause" is if your actions were considered "reasonable" given the circumstances.

At you're meeting you'll have the right to explain your actions and need to have a good rationale as to why you believed it proper to address the parent in this matter and how you were in compliance with the employer's rules and policies, if any, on the matter. Overall, you need to create a record that establishes your actions were reasonable given the circumstances. You may need this record if the employer issues a write up for the action. In that case, you will file a grievance with the employer via the union procedure, and you ultimately could go to arbitration on matter; though most write-ups do not go to arbitration. In any event, you'll need the record from the employer to challenge any discipline - specifically the rule or policy they'd be use for the discipline enforcement and how they came to the conclusion that the particular rule or policy was violated.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – simply reply to this answer. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wish you all the best with this matter.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi the way they keep bringing up "just cause" is the principals "just be-cause that's how I personally feel". That's the most demoralizing part. The whole conversation between the parent and I took place at the front office in Spanish, except when the parent began crying victim once I basically challenged her to repeat in front of the principal what she had no problem calling me in front of a group of first graders. So in reality the principal has no knowledge of what was said because she doesn't speak Spanish. She is basing this on my loud voice (which Latinos are known for) and my signaling mom to "zip it" once the parent continued ranting that she didn't have anything to say to me. The Spanish speaking secretaries have voiced their support openly because of this
parents repeated antics. The assistant principal hasn't said anything to me but through my suite mate conveyed the message that it's known
Expert:  John replied 9 months ago.
I understand and can reassure you "just cause" is not just because that's how the principal personally feels. If the secretaries and others have witnessed and understand what this parent was saying and will act in support of you, you will need to make adminstration aware that you have such witnesses and encourage them to interview them as part of their investigation. You cannot control if you will get a write up, but you can file a grevance and go to arbitration to dispute the same; that's the best you can do.

Let me know if I can further assist you. Thanks.
John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 2653
Experience: Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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