Fun As A Manager…Or Not

So week before last, I suspended an employee for absenteeism.  On the day after Labor Day, he came in for three and a half hours of an eight hour shift but left, saying his wife was sick and he needed to go take care of her.  Note:  He probably did that because it’s a company rule that if you call in sick after a holiday, you don’t get paid holiday pay.  The next day, he was present for an hour and ten minutes, and left for the same reason because his wife had a “bug”.  During that time, he wrote a letter to me, which he copied to the Assistant Manager, and he says that he sent a text message to the Assistant Manager who said it was okay to leave.  She says not.  Who do you think I believe?

In the letter, he says he only came in to “cover himself”.  Because he was already on probation for absenteeism. So I was just furious.  Furious.

One of the hard things about being a manager is that employees can be as insulting and outrageous as they like, while you have to remain calm and dispassionate.  I get that, and pretty much do well with it.

In this case I started with, what part of coming in for an hour did you think would “cover” you?  And, who stays home because their wife has a “bug”?  She is an adult.  So let me tell you when you call in sick:  when you are sick, when your daughter is sick, and now when your wife is sick.  And when your daughter is sick, it’s only you who stays home with her.  Why is that?  He said, my wife makes more money.  I said, I figured you would say something like that, so I understand it.  But it still isn’t the way to keep a job.  Your wife will make the only money, and you will bring in zero.

That seemed to have a temporary calming effect. Then he said, Does this apply to everybody?  And it was like my head exploded.  I saw “lawsuit” in my future, not that that hasn’t ever happened.  Because anybody can sue anyvbody.

I said, first of all, stop interrupting me. I was so furious that it apparently came across. I’m 5’2″ and he’s like 5’10”, and very fit, a weight lifter. He could have pulverized me, but chose not to. Good idea.  He said Okay, Okay, I accept the suspension.  I don’t want to make you madder than you already are.  Another good idea.  He just waited too late.

Since he came back this week, he ignores me.  His third best idea.

3 responses to “Fun As A Manager…Or Not

  1. and he says that he sent a text message to the Assistant Manager who said it was okay to leave. She says not. Who do you think I believe?

    Text messages can be documented. You can ask him to show you the text message as well as the Ast. mgr. If he says he deleted it, which would be really stupid on his part, then you can ask to see proof of a text on that date via his phone bill which he can print for the record. It won’t give you content but it would establish date and time one was sent if it indeed was.

    If he fails to produce proof and the Ast. Mgr continues to deny approving it you are on solid legal grounds to terminate his employment for lying and poor performance as long as everything is documented, in my opinion.

  2. > while you have to remain calm and dispassionate

    Says who? lol!

  3. You make an excellent point pt. I think I’ll ask him to produce it. And her too. During this conversation, he asked me to show him in writing where it isn’t OK to call in to work if a family member is sick. That was the “does this apply to everyone” part. I said, read the employee handbook. But I acknowledged that I don’t subscribe to that entirely…if it’s a child and you are the sole caregiver for that child, then the child comes first. I would rather employees be able to be honest with me, rather than having to fabricate an imagnary illness of their own and lie to me.
    In twenty years of being in this business, I have never until now been accused of being unfiar on this issue. I once did allow an employee to take off because his wife had breast cancer. Not a “bug”. I cleared it first with my boss. The employee was off for some time and had to take all his vacation and sick time, and then, he was unpaid.
    During the time we had this recent conversation when I suspended him the employee said, you told me that it was okay to be off as long as I notified someonel I said, you know what/ Show me that in writiing. .

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