Thursday, August 27, 2009

How It Is, Part II

When I rolled into work Tuesday night, I tore the office apart looking for my write-up, to no avail. The GM was out of the office all day yesterday, so I couldn't see it until this morning. I now have a copy of the document, and I am angry. I pulled out my copy of the new Employee Handbook, and it details a "Progressive Discipline Program". I won't reprint the whole thing here, but it basically outlines a progressive, positive system for identifying and correcting problems.


Issuing a written warning is a serious action taken by the manager only when a previous discussion (commitment to correct) had not been effective or due to the severity of the inappropriate behavior. An employee can be terminated under progressive discipline if he/she has two written warnings and a third one happens within a twelve month period... Hourly employees will be dismissed after 3 written warnings if the disciplinary action is not a critical item.
Okay, then. The "commitment to correct" is a situation where the employee is given a verbal warning, and advised on how to correct the situation before it escalates to a written warning. I have never been given a verbal warning, as such.

The write-up was hand-written onto a pre-printed "Second Warning Notice", but the word "Second" was marked through with a pen and replaced with the word "Final". The Violation is marked Other, with the comment, "Improper dress". Under Action Taken, it reads, "Earrings in both Ears". In the Additional Remarks section it reads, "2nd Warning Jason has been informed this is not allowed and signed the handbook." Underneath is a reiteration of the "final warning" and the notice that "further violations may lead to immediate dismissal without further notice".

To wit, the Employee Handbook does, in fact, say that "For males earrings are not allowed." I asked about this the afternoon the handbooks were handed out. There were a lot of questions that afternoon, because there's a stipulation that female employees can not wear large earrings, and one that specifies no visible tattoos, and another that stipulates that hair must be a color "that is natural to your ethnicity". Examples of all of these were present at the meeting, and we were told by the VP of Operations, that such things would be "grandfathered in" implying that anyone already working there was exempt from such provisions. I asked my supervisor, the front office manager, and she told me not to worry.

There's nothing in the handbook about nail polish, save for the line that "nails should be in a neutral color".

I'm not an attorney, but it seems like I'm being sold something here. I've been called on the carpet for a violation of the Employee Handbook, but it seems like the procedure from said handbook isn't being followed. If I'm reading it right, the correct procedure would have been for the manager to pull me aside and tell me to stop wearing my earrings to work. I wouldn't have liked it, but I would have done it. No written warning necessary. No second or final warnings necessary. Instead, my reading of the handbook is counted as my verbal AND first written warning, and the rest proceeds from there.

I've been doing some reading since Tuesday. LLLLL was nice enough to point out to me the NCTE site, and I had a read through some of their resources. I asked previously about transitioning on the job, and the GM told me that I can't change the way I dress if my ID has a male name on it. It seems that I can't change my ID until I legally change my name and begin living and working 24/7. I think I've been flying solo on this ride too long. I need to knuckle down and find a doctor to talk to, and never mind the expense. I'm already in hock up to my eyeballs, so what's another debt?


  1. Is there anyone higher up that you could take this to and be like "I think I've been unfairly reprimanded based on this policy and what happened" ?

    Also, we have a trans clinic in the area where the only thing you have to pay for is prescriptions

  2. I follow too many blogs. I would have read your following entries if I had known they were there: You are by far one of my favorite bloggers.
    Did you recieve the handbook and sign anything accepting the handbook?
    Most write ups include a place where employees can write a comment. I wish you had written that you have worn earrings and nail polish for quite some time and nothing noted. The fact that it is a final written warning-well, that's just harrassment.
    I would not accept this laying down but even so there might not be anything you can do but seek a job that allow you to be true to yourself.
    They are out there. I hire people everyday without thought to their earrings or nails.

  3. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I'm sorry I didn't see these posts earlier. Okay, first, I'm not an attorney (I just play one on the internet), but that said:

    - Keep records of what's going down with the GM. The date the complaint was filed against you, the date you met with the GM, etc., etc. Keep track of all future meetings too, and ask for the GM and other superiors to put everything you discuss in writing.

    - If at all possible, try to talk to an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination law. A lot of attorneys will do a free initial consultation and will tell you if they do so when you call.

    - Good luck! If you want some advice on possible resources, just shoot me an email. I might be able to hook you up.

  4. The previous commenter says it all, Jaye. Keep lots of notes.

    With that said, I am a relatively high level manager with a major company in California. It is doubtful that the mandate that has been thrown at you would fly in this state. If the laws in your state do not protect you, however, I guess you have two choices: (1) Play by their rules because you work in their playpen, or (2) Be a martyr and be prepared for the consequences in a very bad environment to lose a job.

    I would go with (2). Play by the rules. Continue on your transition, if that is your desire, because it will take a boatload of cash and you need that job. It would appear that once your ID says F, then you would be protected in your state and under the Company guidelines.

    One more thing. If you work for a major corporation, I can guarantee you that these personnel moves are not done without a legal opinion, unless the local management are idiots. If they are pursuing discipline, they have probably had everything reviewed by company lawyers at this point.

    I do wish you the best, Jaye, and I enjoy your blog.

    Calie xx