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Unsigned complaints......are they valid?

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Hello there,

 

A few months ago, I made a complaint against my manager at work. This complaint was sent to him so as to give him the opportunity to address my concerns. I provided overwhelming evidence to support the fact that he has been treating me unfairly. After he received my complaint, he appeared somewhat remorseful. I know this reaction was due to the overwhelming facts that I presented him with. He later agreed to dealing with the issues between us and a date was eventually set for this discussion.

 

However, sometime later, (prior to the proposed discussion with my manager), I was called by the head of department who informed me that several members of staff (14 people) had made complaints about me. (Please note I’ve had an impeccable record in my work and have never received any complaints prior). All these complaints were supposedly received by my manager (whom I had complained about). I immediately recognised retaliation and a complete set up.

 

I requested for statements from all these complainants, (as apparently) these numerous complaints were all lodged verbally. Eventually, I received only 9 unsigned statements. The other 5 were not mentioned or accounted for. I proceeded to request for signatures for these complaints.

 

I clearly stated that I would not respond to these complaints unless they were signed. I was told that I would be in receipt of these signed statements by a certain date. Following this, I received several pathetic excuses and promises that these signed statements would be sent to me. However, these were never sent.

 

Eventually, after weeks of procrastination from my head of department, I was told that the company is not obliged to provide signatures. In my opinion, this entire matter reeks of foul play. The fact that they agreed to sending signed statements, and then retracted this decision, weeks later, strongly suggests that the complaints are malicious and trumped up, as I've maintained right from the onset. I genuinely believe these complaints are without merit and this belief has been strengthened by them refusing to provide signed statements, despite their original promise to do so.

 

My head of department is insisting on progressing with the investigation, even in the absence of my response to these allegations. I feel this is very unfair as they have failed to provide signatures to complaints that they deem to be valid and genuine.

 

What are my options? I’m at my wits end. I’ll be grateful for any advice on this matter.

 

Many thanks in advance.

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you appear to be confusing your workplace with a court of law. Even without witness statements, if the balance of probabilities is that you have behavioural probelms, your employer can take action.

 

Do you get on well with all your co workers? Having read the statements is there genuinely nothing at all true in them? What exactly are people complaining about?


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Hi there Emmzzi,

 

Thank you for your response. In answer to your question..........Two of the complaints relate to a situation which occurred 1 year ago. These complaints relate to the fact that I challenged two colleagues following their dangerous behaviour which resulted in a near miss situation with a customer. (Please note these colleagues did not express any dissatisfaction at the time or afterwards. However, 1 year later, this has now become an issue)

 

Three complaints relate to how I am perceived to delegate work. Please note this perception is not that of the complainants, but supposedly other staff members perception, of which they are relaying.

 

The other four are centred on the belief that I'm lacking in customer service skills, yet I've never received a complaint from any customers. Furthermore, I'm the one who is always receiving thank you gifts. The remaining 5 complaints, I haven't been given any details whatsoever about them.

 

In answer to your question, there is nothing of substance in the complaints. There is absolutely no evidence to back up any of their allegations. Hence, my complete dissatisfaction with the entire matter. I have real issues with their promise to provide signed statements and their u-turn on this decision after weeks of deliberating. This reeks of something untoward and I believe this to be questionable.

 

Thanks again.

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I believe you are shooting yourself in the foot by refusing to respond. It certainly makes you appear stubborn and difficult. Why not just answer the queries as you have here - and yiour answers sound reasonable to me - and get the whole thing over with, instead of playing a points scoring game that, as the party with least power, you are going to lose? Anything else is going to make the workplace a living hell.


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Emmzzi,

 

Thank you. I appreciate your response.

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Others often disagree with me and I am sure will be along later so you have a range of replies to think about!


Never assume anyone on the internet is who they say they are. Only rely on advice from insured professionals you have paid for!

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Hi, I would approach this in a different way.

 

What is happening to you is bullying, plain and simple. The burden of proof on your employer is that they must have a reasonable belief that there is a substance to these complaints. The first question any reasonable person looking at this should be asking is whether these complaints are related to your complaint against your manager. Statistically, the chances of one complaint against you following you raising a complaint are low. The chances of 14 complaints being raised and that this is just a coincidence are negligible, and indicate that a 'fishing expedition' has taken place to try and find some 'dirt' on you. The complaints appear to be hotch potch of matters which took place a long time ago, matters in which the people involved don't want to complain about, and various unspecified claims. None of these have any real substance, and you should never have even been called to answer these.

 

My suggestion is that you put something to the head of department in writing laying out your concerns that these complaints have come about only as a result of your complaint against your manager and that you do not wish to go into them in detail as you believe them to be vexatious and to pursue them is going to damage the working realtionship between you and your colleagues. You can mention in general terms that you have had no prior complaints, receive gifts from customers, etc. Do not address the complaints directly - if you do and the employer is being dishonest, they will use anything you say which can possibly be interpreted as an admission of guilt against you. Emphasise that you feel to proceed with an investigation at this point would be unfair, and that you need to be satisifed that these complaints are genuine and not a result of some vendetta. Ask to receive, in writing, an assurance that these complaints have not been extracted from people as a basis for retaliation against you, and ask for details as to how these complaints came about. If the employer tries to say that they all came up by chance after you complained about your manager, this would reduce their credibility greatly. Include in the email to the head of department a one page summary timeline of events, including the dates of your complaint against your manager, the date of his hearing, dates you asked for signed complaints, the dates you were promised you would receive them, and the dates you were told you couldn't receive them. Of great concern are the five unspecified, unsigned complaints. If you take a step back and look at this, it is ludicrous that you are even asked to respond to such complaints.

 

So, the bottom line is, do not answer these complaints in detail until the head of department has acknowledged in writing that you believe these complaints have been sourced by your manager in revenge for your complaint against him, and that you need to have an idea of how these complaints came about. You need to push for responses on thse points, my guess is that the employer will be evasive regarding them and will attempt to pressure you into responding to the complaints. The 'balance of probablilities' is overwhelmingly that this is the case. If the head of department is procrastinating you should consider escalating the matter further.

 

Keep a written record of any correspondence on this matter going forward, and keep a file with all the related paperwork. Good luck to you. I hate to see this sort of thing, it is a common theme on this forum, and is something that could be easily avoided, its just a case of one person in the whole chain of events having a bit of integrity and sense.

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This is a very odd situation. There is no technical reason why the complaints must be signed, and you cannot force them to provide signed complaints, but I understand why you question authenticity.

 

It is important to draw a distinction between the complaints themselves and the allegations of misconduct which are contained in the complaints. Focus on the substance of the issue and not the piece of paper the issue is written on. Even if the complaints are doctored that would not excuse discipline for misconduct if there is misconduct.

 

For this reason, I think you should respond to the allegations of misconduct if there is an appropriate opportunity to do so. You did not say whether the company is actually bringing forward a disciplinary, if not you will need to decide whether you sit tight or whether you want to raise a grievance. Realistically, it might be better to sit tight. If the company hasn't brought a disciplinary this is all hot air and its not worth getting stressed over. If a disciplinary does happen I would respond as follows: (1) Explain your position in relation to each allegation of misconduct, (2) Explain very briefly the background of your complaint against the manager and your doubts about the authenticity of the complaints if appropriate. Focus on point 1.


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I would advise differently to the last post. You need to raise doubts as to the authenticity of the complaints against you in the first instance, and your suspicion that they are related to your complaint against your manager. You should push to see signed complaints - in these circumstances you have valid reasons to ask for copies of them - the employer has previously promised them, then delayed and backtracked on providing them, strongly suggesting they have something to hide. The timing and number of complaints strongly suggests that these complaints have been fished for by someone. The complaints are vague or relate to matters which took place some time ago, and in five cases, not only are the complaints unsigned, but you have not been told what the complaints are. In summary, you don't have a case to answer.

 

Mention that you feel the complaints to be unfounded but only on very general terms. If you enter into any in-depth discussions or try to address each one individually at this stage you will only provide details which the employer can use to try and incriminate you.

 

You should inform the employer that you see no need to answer the allegations against you at present, and that you are concerned about their timing. State that you wish the hearing against your manager to take place and your complaint to be dealt with prior to any investigation of these allegations against you. These allegations, and their timing, should now be a part of your complaint against your manager. It does sound as if they're trying to accelerate some form of action against you in order to prevent the grievance against your manager from going ahead.

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