Dear Union Brothers & Sisters,
I am writing to you today to respond to a few questions that have come to my attention recently – ones that I believe the answers can help inform everyone.
Q: Dear Brenda: My supervisor is an IDIOT! She is always making mistakes, lying, and sends the worst emails; plus her spelling is atrocious. Recently, she sent an email so dumb my co-workers & I sent it around making fun of it. I even posted a screenshot of it on my Twitter feed. Now I hear I might get in trouble, but that’s wrong, right? I have Freedom of Speech!
A: This is a great question, but sadly you may be in jeopardy of being disciplined and possibly terminated for your actions. “Freedom of Speech” protects your right to say what you want and not be imprisoned by the government, not say what you want and not get fired. While it is true that you were talking to friends, and may even have done the Twitter post off work hours, anything that you do that is considered harm to the employer could be used against you. In addition, using an internal email as a “joke” could be construed as improper because you exposed the supervisor’s confidential communication to the public. Lastly, if you all were commenting on the email during work time and on work computers, then that’s another infraction. All in all, this was not a good thing to do, and you should never do it again!
Q: Dear Brenda: The college’s security officers came up to me to allege that I did something wrong & that they had it on tape. Can they watch me on tape and use that against me? Also, when I asked for my Union rep, they said I couldn’t talk to the Union, is that right?
A: Unfortunately, surveillance of persons on public property is allowed by law, so yes the college can track your movements on campus. Please note, the usage of those tapes for disciplinary matters is described in some of the Local 1600 contracts, so the tape might not be admissible as evidence against you. Please review your CBA to see what is allowed. However, as to your second inquiry, contact your campus union team immediately. If you are ever asked to answer questions by a member of administration, request a rep and are denied, this could be a violation of your Union rights under labor law. You are allowed a Union representative at your request, and certainly if you didn’t have the right to a rep, you had the right to an attorney. If this happens again, just state that you believe that you have the right to remain silent – then do so until they release you! Then contact us.
Q: Dear Brenda: One of my co-workers keeps asking me out on dates. I told her I was not interested, but she persisted. Once I finally told her that I was going to go to HR, she backed off and said that I should not be so sensitive and that she was “joking.” Can I still report her? I have proof of many of her date requests in my email.
A: The first step is to follow up your communication to her, in writing. Specifically say that you don’t want to go out with her and that you do not find her “joke” requests funny and demand that they cease. Then follow up with HR and let them know of the situation, as repeated requests for a date can be construed as sexual harassment and subject her to discipline.
Ultimately, it is incumbent on you to be apprised of your rights and responsibilities as a college employee. Feel free to email your questions to me for possible publication in a future issue of the Voice: email@example.com.