Will this write-up warning stay on my employment record?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 - candidate, discipline

Disciplinary Warning

Hampton Court Palace
Creative Commons License photo credit: dlhdmb13

Charles asks: I’m an admin assistant for a small family owned contractor. Part of my job involves handling the city permitting and inspection issues. The client (GC) was trying to schedule the final with the city (require GC to call final) but was told he couldn’t since a permit was not pulled. Since this is the final the job was done months ago. The GC gets very angry and calls my boss (company VP) about it. This call happened while I was out on vacation last week. The following Friday I was written up by the new Office Manager (promoted 2 days ago) for not getting a permit for this one job. I asked him what job it was but he didn’t remember. Neither did anyone else who knew about it. I pulled all the data for the jobs done in this city and looked at every single permit I had on file. Every job has a permit to go with it. There is one that does not have an official permit because the permit clerk was out when it was picked up. The person filling in wasn’t familiar with the system so they gave an official permit sign (supposed to be only for posting at a jobsite) as a substitute. This sign included the address, permit number, date it was picked up, and the city personnel who wrote it up. I kept the original sign and posted a copy at the jobsite. Yes, I picked this thing up myself…normally someone else gets sent to do it. When I bring this to the attention of my boss next week will the write up stay on my record after I show him the permit I received, the original receipt, and the printed email where I requested the check?

In answer:
There is a lot to cover here, and much of it involved with legal procedures under various pieces of law and jurisdiction.

Firstly, as you got a written warning of conduct, it should have stated: the specifics of what and where the incident occurred; what the resulting problem was; the remedial action to be taken; and learning point you should note not to repeat.

As it didn’t, you don’t know 100% that the incident you found is the problem: it could have been, could have been another job you handled, or could have been a job someone else handled and just passed the buck onto you?

If you knew what the incident was, then you could have taken the action you have done, and found out the details. Even if you had mucked up – accepting no one is perfect – you could have shown at minimum at next weeks meeting that you are taking the required remedial action. As it stands, you are walking into an open skunk trap, as you don’t know what the incident and resultant problem is.

If you have a good relationship with this new office manager, ask them which incident the problem occurred on, casually pointing out that they didn’t state the job number on the cite; if you have a bad or suspect relationship, write to them asking the same details. If you don’t get the details at least 24hrs ahead of the meeting, then write reminding them of the need, copied to their boss.

Once you have the details, investigate as you have and produce a short summary (one sheet of paper ideally, two maximum; plus copies of applications/permits) of the incident and the problem – if there was one. Don’t conclude that the cite should be removed, just at the meeting discuss the incident and understand how your boss sees the problem – if they know they have done it wrong, it will be withdrawn.

In any situation where an employee is cited or given a warning by a boss, clarity is the key issue and asking more questions is always the best tactic. The situation resulted of a lack of or breakdown in communication, so it is essential to restore that first before you create an unemployment situation out of a simple misunderstanding.

Good Luck!

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