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Being Forced Out
Old 06-14-2019, 09:03 AM   #1
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Being Forced Out

My wife has worked for the same local government organization for over 30 years. She has held multiple positions in various divisions and always gone above and beyond what was required. She often works through lunches, works late, never calls in sick, and rarely takes vacation days. She takes pride in her work, is always looking for ways to improve efficiency, is always friendly and supportive to her coworkers, and has devoted most of her life to that organization.

Sure, in 30 years she made a mistake or two, but it was simply brought to attention and everyone moved on. Live and learn.

However, over the last year or two the environment has really become toxic. Micromanaging, secrecy, personality conflicts, and favoritism have become the norm, seniority means nothing anymore. There have been multiple incidents over the last few years where employees retired early or were terminated after very minor accusations (many of which were not true).

Recently my wife accidentally shared information from a meeting with another coworker. The information wasn't anything sensitive or personal, it just wasn't public knowledge in the office yet. She was just trying to improve efficiency in the office and mentioned it without thinking. It was a minor slip up, but it's being blown all out of proportion. She was told to bring a union representative to meetings where she was accused of a "pattern" of violating policy (it supposedly happened one other time 10 years ago, but they couldn't agree on the incident), promoting poor morale in the office, and more. The alleged incident occurred back in April, but they've drug it out over months of meetings, beating her down and her calling me in tears each time. Now they've placed her on a six month probation with careful monitoring and the threat of demotion or termination. Of course, with no open position to demote to, the only real option would be termination if it came to that.

My first reaction is to get her out of there as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the reality is we're still four years from retiring and jobs paying anywhere close to what she is earning now are impossible to find. Being 50 years old with no college degree doesn't help in today's job market. I don't earn enough on my own to support us either. We're simply not in a financial position to retire now.

I'm really hoping this will just blow over and we can get through the next four years without more incidents. However, with the current environment and our financial situation I am a little nervous about what would happen if she is forced out.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:14 AM   #2
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You've heard the term FU money? Now's the time to use it. I'd rather my wife or I work longer for less at a job where she or I are valued and respected. Time to stick up for your bride.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:18 AM   #3
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Sounds like they put her on a PIP (performance improvement plan.) Yeah...time for her to start looking around. Im not even going to beat around the bush. Once you go on a pip...the end is near. Companies do that to protect themselves from a lawsuit.

Ive never heard of a 6 month long one...thats even worse. Also, once the probation period is over...they can still fire her without any recourse. See...her wonderful employer essentially bent over backwards to give her chance after chance and she still hasnt "improved."

Its all BS. Tell her to start looking for other positions elsewhere. They're going to get rid of her.

Sorry if I sound harsh. I certainly wouldnt tell her straight up shes going to lose her job because that would upset her...but I would absolutely encourage her to start looking elsewhere.

Also, what does your financial picture look like? If your wife is miserable and its affecting her...I dont care how much money we think we would need to retire...I would tell her to quit without any notice. Her mental health is worth a hell of a lot more than some money.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:18 AM   #4
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When they want you gone, they will make you gone. It sucks, but it is reality.

The question of the day is how much support her union will provide in terms of calling B.S. or making it very difficult for them to force her out?

Given she has 30 years, what is her pension situation? When can she draw/etc? I'm only bringing this up as it might help the situation financially after you take the time to figure out net where you all would be if she is forced out. Don't forget to (possibly) include unemployment compensation.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:22 AM   #5
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Worked 44 years. Some at small companys, some at mega corps, and the final 17 years was with a mega city. The real dirty, nasty stuff I saw, and sometimes experienced was at mega city. Managers at city government often think they are above the rules. In a situation like this , you are not on a level playing field. Time to be quiet, document everything and lawyer up. Being union usually does not preclude having your own atty. and also suggest not posting on social media. Social media post can filter back to the other side.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:27 AM   #6
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Given she has 30 years, what is her pension situation? When can she draw/etc?
She is eligible for the full pension now, but can't draw until she is 55 (a bit over 4 years from now). Of course, the amount would be a bit less without the contributions of the next 4 years.

I'm helping her watch for other positions, but she's been so busy with work and taking her mom to doctor appointments she hasn't had time to look at anything.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:33 AM   #7
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At the end of the 6 month probation period if they decide to let her go, will she get a severance package for the years of service ?

If yes, then you may want to consider short circuiting the probation process and she can just go now - with the severance and benefits. This is something that she will have to negotiate with her management. Usually in situations like this the "company" wants it to go away and may agree. As a plus she will also get unemployment benefits which she may not get if she resigns.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:38 AM   #8
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I worked for the state and when they decide you are going you are eventually gone. They transferred one woman’s job to the other end of the state in a very rural area. Of course she didn’t go.
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$ < time < happiness
Old 06-14-2019, 09:39 AM   #9
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$ < time < happiness

Quote:
Originally Posted by ponyboy View Post
If your wife is miserable and its affecting her...I dont care how much money we think we would need to retire...I would tell her to quit without any notice. Her mental health is worth a hell of a lot more than some money.
+1

OP's is a situation where ER needs to take a back seat. If DW takes a lower paying position elsewhere which isn't a backstabbing heckhole, what does it matter that ER pushes out a bit further? It's not a competition to see who gets out earliest.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:14 AM   #10
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Sounds like it's time to take care of any elective surgery, to reduce sick time and start using up any comp time. The less time spent at work the better.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:21 AM   #11
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What does her union rep say?
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:23 AM   #12
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Sounds like they put her on a PIP (performance improvement plan.) Yeah...time for her to start looking around. Im not even going to beat around the bush. Once you go on a pip...the end is near. Companies do that to protect themselves from a lawsuit.
You are absolutely correct for the corporate world.

But union government jobs work differently.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:31 AM   #13
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DW worked for a small municipality here in Texas for 26 years. She had the same boss for that entire time. He "insulated" her from most of the nonsense so that she could just concentrate on work. She really enjoyed her job as a result. They both retired 3 years ago and now DW's former coworkers are reporting behavior eerily similar to the OP.

There's a new City Manager who is very much focused on cost reduction. He brought in his own team of assistant city managers. There have been multiple rounds of departmental restructuring with older more experienced managers and workers replaced with younger "favorites" of the new management team. The older workers are either demoted or, more frequently, forced out on vague accusations of policy violations... usually into a much earlier retirement than they were planning. Rumor is that they are trying to prevent further accretion in pension values for the older workers.

In any case, I'm just glad DW got out when she did. She was 56 and had already worked 3 years past my ER. Original plan was for us to ER at the same time, but she wanted to keep working because she enjoyed the daily routine and interaction with coworkers. Financially, we were well positioned either way.

My suggestion would be to stick it out and hope for the best. If she's terminated, obviously there's unemployment benefits for some period of time. But any severance package offered will include an agreement not to sue for wrongful termination. So at that point you'll probably need to consult with a good employment attorney as to whether to sue or take the severance. DW tells me that most of her similarly-situated former coworkers are all taking the severance package, which also includes health insurance for 6 months. Good luck.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:42 AM   #14
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I personally would not post my wife's employment problems with a local government employer, especially when I display where I reside next to my post.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:44 AM   #15
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what does your financial picture look like?
Right now we are doing well, but if she loses her job we would definitely struggle. She has been the primary earner in our family for over 20 years. I've been running my own business during that time but my income could never compete with what she earned. I'm almost 56 with no recent "real world" job experience, so I would have a very difficult time finding anything other than minimum wage. That certainly wouldn't pay our bills.

We have some limited retirement savings and an emergency fund of about six months, but that's about it. We're not wealthy by any means but we were set up for a comfortable retirement.

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If your wife is miserable and its affecting her
Ironically, she really enjoys the work she does. That's one of the reasons she has been there 30+ years. It's only the office politics that make work stressful. This current situation came out of nowhere.

Even after all this mess, she gets up each day and looks forward to the tasks of the day. And she still enjoys working with her coworkers.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:45 AM   #16
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I personally would not post my wife's employment problems with a local government employer, especially when I display where I reside next to my post.
Good observation. Even better would have been to PM the OP.
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Old 06-14-2019, 11:00 AM   #17
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Unfortunately, the reality is we're still four years from retiring and jobs paying anywhere close to what she is earning now are impossible to find. Being 50 years old with no college degree doesn't help in today's job market. I don't earn enough on my own to support us either. We're simply not in a financial position to retire now.
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You've heard the term FU money? Now's the time to use it..
Just where do you find this FU money when it doesn't quite exist?
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Old 06-14-2019, 11:15 AM   #18
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Ironically, she really enjoys the work she does. That's one of the reasons she has been there 30+ years. It's only the office politics that make work stressful. This current situation came out of nowhere.

Even after all this mess, she gets up each day and looks forward to the tasks of the day. And she still enjoys working with her coworkers.
I found that when the end day is in sight, it's far easier to put up with the nonsense.

I wish your wife good luck.
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Old 06-14-2019, 11:42 AM   #19
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You need or rather your wife needs an attorney experienced in these cases. Age and gender discrimination plus harassment are key issues in these situations. The attorney needs to get to people above the department and explain how much in money and bad publicity this will cost. Then there needs to be a settlement that allows her to finish out her time in another job in another department if needed. Cuz that will be the cheapest option for the agency...
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:52 PM   #20
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The less time spent at work the better.

This...
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