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Marsha411JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Licensed Atty, 29 yrs exp in the practice of law.
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I work in a department where there are 16 employees, we have

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I work in a department where there are 16 employees, we have a lead who is to assist us with answers and work. There is a click in the department of 4 employees. We have complained for years about the favoritism shown to these four and how they should not be sitting together, talking constantly, while the rest of us are told not to. A few months ago the majority of us complained about the lead and this click. The solution by our supervisor's boss was to sit them together right outside his office. We think he has a thing for one of them. I had a large project for one of our customers and our turn around time is 48 hours. I did my work and prepared my email for review by the lead, project came in at 10:20 Monday, I had it ready by Tuesday and sent by email for review by 2:06pm. The lead said she would get to it, the end of the day she sent me an email saying sorry she had to help another team member will get to it the next day and set herself a task. She didn't come in until 12pm noon the next day, so I didn't get the job back to the customer within the 48 hours. I sent her a quick email around 12:45pm to see if she can get to my email. Said she had several emails she had to get distributed and would get to mine. I had to print out a letter went over by the printer, where she sits and she is standing talking to the click about her vacation. She was leaving on Friday, this is Wednesday. I am upset now that she can talk but not work on my email. I go into my bosses office to say something and she is not there. So I walk up to the lead with the others all there talking and ask can you get to my email? She glares at me and says she will get to it. I then send an email to my boss telling her just what took place. She said to have another fellow employee in are department look at the email and she will handle the situation with the lead and to send her what the other employee does in editing my email she wants to compare. So I do and send that to her around 2pm. In the meantime, the lead comes over about 3pm and edits the email with me, it takes about 10 minutes and I send it out to the customer. The next day 1 of the others in the clicks comes over to my desk and has questions on return mail. We are a call center for business customers for a power co. I'm taking the call and she starts talking to me. I point to my earphones that I am on the phone. She stands there, then once I'm off said she has a packet of bills and saw that I noted the first account last Friday do I remember this? No, I said but we have to note the account whether it's a duplicate or not the account still has to be noted, this is Thursday. I feel it was just to mess with me. Later that day I sent in a power quality form, which asks several questions, then it goes to the lead to investigate and get back to the customer. I get an email from my lead with my boss copied saying should I have sent and emergency outage order out that day and why didn't I ask these other questions. The problem the customer was having didn't happen that day which is indicated on the form so that is why no emergency order went out. I asked all questions on the form, I believe the rest is for her to investigate and ask the customer not I. Then Friday these situations were bothering me so I went in to talk to my boss. She said when the lead was talking I should have waited for her (my boss) to return or pull the lead aside without confronting her infront of the others, so in retaliation she drug her feet even longer to work on my email. She then proceeded to tell me, that she confronted her boss (male) that she wanted to change the seating and not have the click together. It doesn't look good how he and the 1 female in the click carry on. He said he didn't care and wasn't gong to change the seating. I feel when we complain instead of getting the kind of results you should get for not behaving in a work environment, they are doing the reverse to keep us from complaining. To me this should be morally and ethically wrong or is this the new philosophy in managing employees? I don't know if I should go to human resources on this or put this down in my evaluation of my lead and boss? I don't know where to go from here. About 3 years back the lead and previous manager were reviewed for hostile work environment in our department. The supervisor was let go, but they kept the lead and she was the one who did the bullying and it keeps continuing. At that time, I did the majority of the complaining to the supervisors boss and she said the lead should have been fired to. I feel someone is protecting her, but I don't know who. I do know she takes medications for anxiety and other emotional problems, so I don't know if she is protected by fmla. Please help me.

Thank you for all of the information. I will need to know what State you work and also if you are asking if what you described is legal or specifically what your question is.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I work in Iowa. Yes, if this type of management is legal, basically if you complain we will not fix the problem with the people who are causing the problem, but make your job more difficult, to keep you from complainging? Also, should I go to human resources or how should I proceed. Put all of this down in her review which is coming up soon?

Hello again and thank you for the additional information and your question. Normally, what you described is not unlawful, but instead poor management, and as you pointed out favoritism. Where it could become unlawful, is if the group of employees who are disfavored and treated adversely are members of a particular protected class under employment discrimination laws and they are being treated that way because of this. For example, if only women are treated favorably and men treated unfavorably, or any discrimination based on gender, race, national origin, age (over 40), disability, pregnancy, or AIDS/hiv status. Also, you implied that there might be something going on between the boss and the lead. If that were the case and they had a relationship outside of work and that colored the way the boss treated employees the lead didn't like, then that might rise to the level of quid pro quo sexual discrimination. However, it would have to be pretty extreme adverse treatment and what you described would not be enough to satisfy the EEOC or the courts.

That said, if this favoritism is interfering with your ability to get your work done and it is more than the regular delays and interoffice personality conflicts that sometimes occur, then you have a couple of options. You can speak to someone in HR about your concerns, or if you do have an opportunity to write a review or critic of your lead and your boss, that might be the best place to put your concerns. You want as much detail as possible that goes directly to work output and not as much on personality differences or attitudes. That way management will give the weight to your concerns that they should.

In the end, this might be a situation that won't resolve itself unless someone is moved to another department or leaves the company.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX sure what direction to go. I think the review will be good. The lead is not having the relationship with my boss's boss, it's another member of the click, sorry I wasn't more clear. The lead is a part of the click, though. Again, thank you for your help.

You're very welcome and best of luck to you.