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Discrimination? Retaliation? Defamiation?

On Lawyer & Legal » Employment & Labor Law

7,572 words with 3 Comments; publish: Sun, 14 May 2006 23:46:00 GMT; (80062.50, « »)

I am a graphic designer that was hired to do typesetting for a print management company. I was told to proofread my own work. This goes against common sense and it is bad procedure and I complained and advised that this was not good. And another supervisor told me I was right but "Sales Always Wins." When incorrect work got through the cracks I was made to look incompetent by a certain salesman who routinely gave me bad instructions, therefore causing me to output work according to incorrect guidelines. Therefore, I was forced to defend myself verbally and through company e-mail.

This salesman in charge of one particular account asked me to state why one job took longer than expected. I researched my e-mail trail and responded with my answer. His customer service rep gave me wrong instructions and failed to provide the correct info that was later provided. So, the customer got the wrong work late and the right work even later. He forwarded it to another employee involved in the project and she responded that she was not at fault. After further correspondence it was found that she was indeed at fault for not providing me the correct instructions.

The next morning she and I received an e-mail from the salesman accusing us of being childish and unprofessional. It was copied to the executives. He then entered my office and chided me for a mispelling on a letterhead. I told him I would correct it. He continued to insult me and left. He returned and insulted me with profanity. I got up from my chair and told him very loudly, with some profanity, that the way he was handling his account and a lack of a proofreader was causing me to put out bad work.

I spoke with one of the CEOs after this and pretty much spilled my guts of negative thoughts and frustrations with the way I was being treated. About an hour later I was called to the CEO's office and the sales manager was present. Late, I was asked into the CEO's office and the sales manager was there looking shocked. I was asked to recount what happened, after the salesman was given time to recount his side of the story.

After giving my account of the spat I was told that my relationship with the company was being terminated because they company could not have any time of "violence" that I demonstrated. I was chided again for not being abel to proof my work and I told that I simply could not do it very well.

In the course of my conversation I reminded them that I was carrying a huge workload and picking up slack because one of my coworkers was coming into work recovering from nights of drinking. He even admitted to being drunk at work during a client meeting. If I didn't take the initiative to start the work, it felt it would have not been worked on and become overdue.

There is also a zero tolerance substance-abuse policy. I complained twice about my coworker being drunk and/or coming to work hungover. No discilplinary action was taken against him. But I was told it would be "dealt with". I was picking up his workload and he was paid $8000 more per year than myself.

I have contacts at the company and I have yet to hear whether he has truly been disciplined or terminated. The company is going through a change of ownership and my coworker was told, according to him, that he was going to be a "key player". That makes me think he is getting some kind of preferential treatment.

I also found that the the salesman I had the argument with was in direction violation of company and state sexual harassment laws. His behavior and talk was Freudian and he adorned a chocolate Santa with a condom. I thought his behavior was corny at first until I realized it was in violation of sexual harassment policies. At times it made me and others uncomfortable.

After my termination I went home and read the employee manual's disciplinary action section. I found the substance abuse policy. And I found a set of guildelines for employee discipline. After that list of guidelines is a disclaimer at the end stating that disclipline guidelines set by the company did not have to be followed. I was terminated for arguing loudly. The man who started it and got agressive with me was not even disciplined.

Back to the e-mail thing... another employee was fired after her reputation was marred in company e-mail. Another salesman wrote the executives and she was referred to as a "F***-Up". She was competent but overworked herself. She was so stressed because of overwork and a hostile environment that her hair was falling out. No joke. No chemo treatment involved. That, I believe, is defamation of character and libel when someone is called names and defamed and lied about in company email. She also accused the sales team of sexual harassment and discrimination during her exit interview. She may have a point. One of the longest term employees is overweight and paid less than newer, skinnier employees. Her performance is excellent. Her coworker's performance is sub-par.

I feel my professional reputation, and the repuation of others, has been marred and that my firing was wrong and may also have been done in retaliation for finding that the heart of the company's problems was a million dollar salesman with an immature personality and a potty mouth.

One salesman, a good one whom I worked my heart out for, defended me and told the executives they were wrong in firing me.

From my experience and from the stories I've heard, the salesman are pretty tight with the executives. They use their relationship and the dollars they make as leverage to have certain employees terminated. If the work they promise to their clients is not up to par, then they blame the art department. However, from my personal experience and research I've found that the salespersons are largely to blame for how poorly their accounts are run, therefore resulting in poor artwork.

I don't have the money nor the time a to file a lawsuit and see it through. But if I did, what course of action do I need to follow? I wish I could do this, if not for compensation, but to repair my repuation and force the company to treat employees equally and follow their own discipline guidelines. Too many employees who have worked there loved their jobs only to be backstabbed and fired. It is wrong and I feel there is something illegal there. Is is possible to subpoena all of their e-mail records from their server to prove this?

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    • Thanks. I wish bosses and salespersons acting like idiots was illegal. But then again... our workforce would be cut in half. LOL! I don't know why I keep landing in jobs with idiot coworkers and bosses. Time and time again I've watched the best get fired and the worst get paid. Thanks for your input. :)
      #1; Mon, 15 May 2006 06:52:00 GMT
    • Based on what details you have provided, there isn't a hint of any discrimination, retaliation or defemation. Having to work with idiots is not illegal. I agree that the whole situation was handled very poorly, but again not illegal.
      #2; Mon, 15 May 2006 05:49:00 GMT
    • You might want to research companies a bit more when looking for future jobs. Speak with others you may know who work there or friend of friends who do. It also never hurts to ask question in interviews about policies, procedures and the general environment. You can tell a lot about a company from how they answer.

      You might also ask to meet with future coworkers. I try to incorporate this into interviews when possible but you can certainly ask.

      #3; Mon, 15 May 2006 10:16:00 GMT