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  • Employee problem

    I have a 37 yo guy who has been working for me since spring. Last week when he got into the truck he moved the back of the seat backward so that he could just see over the dashboard as he was riding. The next day he started wearing his hat with the brim pointed behind his ear, not quite all the way to the rear. I haven't said anything to him yet because I don't know what I can say. I am a small operator, he is my only employee. I don't have any written dress codes or anything like that.

    I work in customers houses and often they are home. The hat pointed backward, to me, gives the impression of someone who doesn't care. I don't want to let the guy go for a number of reasons but I can't have him wandering around looking like he doesn't care. I have built my business on attention to detail and this gives the wrong impression.

    Does anyone know what I can legally say to him? I would like to tell him he looks stupid and he better get a grip on the fact he is 37 and not 17. If I fire him will he have recourse because I have no written dress code policy? He knows I have work stacked up so I can't say I fired him for lack of work. I certainly don't want to end up in court against some state labor lawyer.

    Thanks,
    Tom

  • #2
    Re: Employee problem

    OMFG!

    Take it off of his head and run over it with an excavator!

    The construction world is "supposed" to be the last place on earth for the touchy-feely politically correct B.S.

    A good employee that is 37 years old should know what looks appropriate to the masses of where he/she is at and your customer demographic.

    Just tell him to turn it around. Or if his feelings get hurt so easy. Ask him too.


    J.C.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Employee problem

      Please don't go the tough guy route unless you want trouble. Talk to him with respect and explain your position unless he is unreasonable, you should prevail. I would like to point out that during the 70's many of my fellow New York Telephone workers wore heavy beards and the company tried to lay down the law(their law), didn't work!

      I did get sent home once while working as a lineman because of my tank top, I got paid but had to wear a T shirt instead. I believe there are some general rules concerning appropriate dress for the right job, such as protective clothing around hazardous materials or work environment, proper foot wear, hair nets aorund food prep, no loose clothing or jewelry around machinery.

      If he is a otherwise good worker, maybe an easy way out would be to provide him with a few shirts and pants, sort of a uniform and mention it will be required to be worn without the hat, or provide a logo hat that must be worn the right way. Simple company logo on his "free" clothing might do the trick?

      When I worked pulling underground cable we were provided with several pairs of Carhardt coveralls, even a jacket. All of us looked good and appreciated the generous gift. I'm just suggesting some easy to do, not very costly alternatives to the legal hassle route. Best of luck.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Employee problem

        I'm not sure what you can enforce with regards the hat, but you can certainly talk to him about your concern and the impression that you think it makes on your customers. Do it with thoughtful respect and kindly let him know that it may be "him"... but as a valued employee, his sense of dress style, reflects directly on you and your company. But that said, I don't believe it's a firing offense, although his reaction/insubordination is.

        But, with regards to driving your truck... ask him to sit up and drive it properly and safely. Tell him he looks like a dumb *** drug pusher or whatever, but it's simply not cool driving your vehicle in that manner.

        (If I get a chance to talk to my son this week, I'll try to remember to ask him about this... he's a graduate of Cornell's Industrial Labor Relations school and has a BS in ILR and a Masters in Business Administration. He'll hopefully know the limits of dealing with such challenges.)

        Good luck,

        CWS

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Employee problem

          Tom W
          Give me a brack if your only employee and he sounds by your discription a good employee wants to appear younger than his 37 years by wearing his hat backwards and adjusts the drivers seat then accept him for what he is enterprising.

          Tony

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Employee problem

            Before I read Franks remark I was ready to write almost exactly what he did so I just dittoed his post.
            ---------------
            Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
            ---------------
            “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
            ---------
            "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
            ---------
            sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Employee problem

              I sure miss the days where a remark or two would solve the entire problem without any worries. Hopefully your employee will be smart enough to appreciate his job and dress and act accordingly. Good luck to you.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Employee problem

                Originally posted by AFM View Post
                Tom W
                Give me a brack if your only employee and he sounds by your discription a good employee wants to appear younger than his 37 years by wearing his hat backwards and adjusts the drivers seat then accept him for what he is enterprising.

                Tony
                i say your wrong on this ,appearance is a big thing and i would not want some one in my house with there hat on the wrong way ,with holes in there pants or a tee shirt with who knows what on it .
                we have uniforms and we have to have them on ,if we want a hat it has to be a company hat or a plain hat .
                we get a lot of compliments about our appearance and there for we get the work
                as for the seat back tell him its a safety problem and if he is in your truck he has to have it up right
                Charlie

                My seek the peek fundraiser page
                http://observatory.mountwashington.o...nal&fr_id=1040


                http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/conditions.php

                new work pictures 12/09
                http://public.fotki.com/hvachawk/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Employee problem

                  You are in the US don't get yourself confused thinking your employee has rights. With a few notable exceptions, unless your guy is working under contract, he is an employee at will. Meaning you can fire him at will for any reason or no reason at all. If he dressed or drove as you described even outside of work it would be your right to fire him.

                  Unless you can be shown to be discriminating against a protected class, religion, race, gender, age, disability or veteran status, you can dictate whatever you want to the employee.(those are the federal standards some states have additional)

                  Last I checked people who dress likes punks are not a protected class.

                  Standard response.

                  1. Verbally inform him of your companies dress code(even if one didn't exist prior to the conversation) It is your job to tell him what your companies standards are. If you want to take it a step forward you could print up a dress code so he has it in writing. Document that you've done this in his employee file.

                  2. If he then violates said dress code, inform him of the violation and ask him to correct it, you can do that verbally or in writing. Document you've done so.

                  3. If he then violates dress code again, issue a written wright up and have him sign it. File it away. (if in step 2 you already issued a written you can skip this step.)Document that you've done this.

                  4. A further violation is now solid grounds for termination. You could fire him on the spot or give him as many chances as you deem necessary. Keep in mind giving employees extra chances does give you less legal leverage with other employees. ie if you give Bob 10 chances then turn around and give Jack 2, Jack can come back at you for treating him unfairly.

                  Follow those steps on dress code or any other code of conduct rule you wish to impose and your legal position is very strong. Keeping an 'employee file' or doing 'write ups', is very strange to many in small businesses, but there is a reason bigger companies do these things. It isn't just to make extra paperwork, it is so those companies have legal protections when someone complains. I recommend any company be it a 2 people or 2,000 people take the time to document employee issues, not doing so can hurt you.

                  Good record keeping will save your but legally, however in the realm of unemployment premiums 'fairness' can be more subjective. So even following good guidelines you can still end up with an increase for firing someone justifiably. Say, you fire your employee for being a long haired hippy, He files for unemployment, you come back and say no he shouldn't get unemployment I told him to cut his hair as a condition of employment. Pretty solid case for not paying unemployment if you get a older conservative arbitrator, less clear if you get a long haired liberal one.

                  All that out of the way. If you like the guy work with him, explain you being the owner of the company are responsible for the image your employees present. Your customers, I assume are not hoodlums, and while you may or may not personally care about his dress, your customers do. In the name of good customer service you need him to be presentable to them.

                  If he can't get his head around that concept I'd question whether he is actually a good employee.

                  In my business between chlorine and iron clothes will get destroyed. I understand this and anyone I've had working for me I pay for them to buy 3 pairs of jeans and 5 shirts. Overalls are also available(conveniently my suppliers give them away on occasion). I've never said they have to wear those clothes, they can wear their own clothes as well it's just an understanding that I have paid up front for clothes that may be ruined, they will not get compensated for lost clothing.

                  I've never really had to talk to an employee about dress(mainly because I don't have many/any) only thing I've every really had a conversation about is stuff written on clothing. I generally only allow t'shirts and such from related business, a Gould's pump shirt for example. A Miller Light shirt or a political message would be out of bounds.

                  When I was with Home Depot the dress code was very clear, if I saw a violation. My response depended on the severity from saying 'we require collared shirt's here, since you work in the back room I'm going to let it go today but in the future please come prepared.' to 'you need to take that nose ring out or go home.' to my famous pet peeve with the cashiers 'open toe'd shoes are not allowed 'go get them or go and don't come back' The girls on the front end seemed to believe since they were just working at a cash register they didn't need to abide by the safety rules.

                  Any legal advice here is worth exactly what you paid for it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Employee problem

                    I think some have been conditioned by employers with larger workforces where this B.S. becomes a "problem" and requires handbooks and meetings. No offense.

                    I also know that in theory that the law is the law.

                    But remember, this is two guys in a truck. Should have a rapport to get it resolved in two minutes. If I had a boss that said turn the hat around or even take it off then I'd do it with no problem.

                    For the record, I have worn my hat backwards many times. You'll hit the bill on floorjoists/framing 90% more with the bill in the front.


                    J.C.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Employee problem

                      Thank you all for taking the time to offer advice and suggestions. From past jobs I have accumulated untolled numbers of orange and strong yellow-green tee shirts which I had never worn. I gave most of them to him this summer and he wore them almost daily. I like the idea of some shirts, hats and jackets with a logo or company name. Not only for this problem but in general. I think it lends a professional look to the employees. One of my pals supplies the local Little Leagues in the area with their uniforms and he has told me a number of times he would give me a good deal if I was ever in the market for shirts and hats. I think I will stop by and see him.

                      Today my guy wore a knit cap so there was no clothing confrontation.

                      As I reflected on the circumstances I wondered if I have some demons of my own to confront. I pick this guy up every day and give him a ride home every night, 15 miles round trip. I buy coffee and lunch every day because he never has any money - he never asks for any loans. I think I felt violated/abused in some way. Kind of '... I do all this for you and you treat me like this?' If I was truely giving I might not have a quid pro quo attitude. More introspection on my part is probably in order.

                      C.W. Smith, I would most certainly be interested in what your son's take is on all this. If there are some generalized guidelines of employee treatment it would be helpfull for me to know them.

                      And boytyperanma thanks for the logical legal steps.

                      Thank you all again.

                      Tom
                      Last edited by Tom W; 10-18-2010, 10:02 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Employee problem

                        Originally posted by Tom W View Post
                        Thank you all for taking the time to offer advice and suggestions. From past jobs I have accumulated untolled numbers of orange and strong yellow-green tee shirts which I had never worn. I gave most of them to him this summer and he wore them almost daily. I like the idea of some shirts, hats and jackets with a logo or company name. Not only for this problem but in general. I think it lends a professional look to the employees. One of my pals supplies the local Little Leagues in the area with their uniforms and he has told me a number of times he would give me a good deal if I was ever in the market for shirts and hats. I think I will stop by and see him.

                        Today my guy wore a knit cap so there was no clothing confrontation.

                        As I reflected on the circumstances I wondered if I have some demons of my own to confront. I pick this guy up every day and give him a ride home every night, 15 miles round trip. I buy coffee and lunch every day because he never has any money - he never asks for any loans. I think I felt violated/abused in some way. Kind of '... I do all this for you and you treat me like this?' If I was truely giving I might not have a quid pro quo attitude. More introspection on my part is probably in order.

                        C.W. Smith, I would most certainly be interested in what your son's take is on all this. If there are some generalized guidelines of employee treatment it would be helpfull for me to know them.

                        And boytyperanma thanks for the logical legal steps.

                        Thank you all again.

                        Tom
                        Tom, that was a great post! You express the ability to go beyond you initial upset and reactions with the situation. We had a lot of trouble at NYTel as workers were made management because while some skills can be learned not all personalities lend themselves to being a boss.

                        I would strongly suggest you read up on local labor laws, and find some reading material on management strategies. Your willingness to examine you thoughts is not a weakness, and your right to run your business a certain way just takes proper planning.

                        Some workers, just like managers will take advantage no matter how well you treat them. Clear guidelines and communication can head off problems down the road. I think you show the traits of a good businessman and boss by asking questions and not flying off the handle. Best of luck. Frank

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Employee problem

                          Tom,

                          I spoke with my son a short time ago and here is what he told me:

                          Basically, New York State is a "Employment at Will" state. In other words, your employee (or any employee) holds their job, only at the will of their employer. You don't like him, or he doesn't live up to your expectations, or whatever... he's "out of there" at your will.

                          The only basis for discrimination claims (wrongful dismissal) would be if he can claim a bias based on religion, age, or race. So, if you don't like guys with bleached hair, too fat, or the way he dresses, you have the right to dismiss him, with little or no explanation.

                          However, care must be taken to assure that your reason cannot be construed as being discriminatory because of the big three (race, religion, or age). For example, if he can make the case that the hat or the way he wears it, is somehow representative of his race or religion... then he may have a case for wrongful dismissal. (Like wearing a head scarf or wearing his cap backwards, because he just happens to be a minority and all minoritie of his age wear their hats that way as a sense of macho or something.)

                          "Dress Codes" of course would make things much easier for the employer though. They can be simple and my son suggest you do a google search for "Dress Codes" or "Work Dress Codes" and you'll probably find a few examples. With a written dress code, you could simply state that while on the job, employees are expected to reflect the best interest of the company and that certain apparel is expected to be worn or not worn.

                          For example: In an office environment, employees will not wear denim jeans, T-shirts, shorts, open-toed shoes, sandles, or any type of apparel that will expose thier underclothes.

                          In a service work environment, one might state that the company shirt will be worn, no shorts or sandles, or any head apparel other than the company supplied baseball cap which must be worn with the company logo facing front.

                          You get the idea. Like in Walmart... employees wear khaki pants and the company polo shirt or vest, etc. McDonald's wear the company shirt with black pants. In some offices, men wear neckties or at least dress shirts with colors and no jeans of any type.

                          With a simple dress code, you have no worries at all. Without one, you can still discuss "appearance", but under the circumstances that you describe, I think I would approach this "valued" employee in a manner that gets him "on your page" so to speak.

                          Remember, some people just don't have all the manners or people skills that you do. If you value the guy, then you may want to bring him along with a little "education", respectfully done of course. Nobody likes to be embarrassed or made to feel inferiour.

                          Growing up, I have had the good fortune to have a couple of people who cared enough about me, to take me aside and gently tell me I had to "take it up a notch" or correct something. At the time, it was perhaps a bit embarrassing, but I was also grown-up enough to recognize the person's kind intentions. Hopefully this fellow with do the same with you.

                          I hope this helps and good luck,

                          CWS

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Employee problem

                            Originally posted by CWSmith View Post
                            Tom,

                            I spoke with my son a short time ago and here is what he told me:

                            Basically, New York State is a "Employment at Will" state. In other words, your employee (or any employee) holds their job, only at the will of their employer. You don't like him, or he doesn't live up to your expectations, or whatever... he's "out of there" at your will.

                            The only basis for discrimination claims (wrongful dismissal) would be if he can claim a bias based on religion, age, or race. So, if you don't like guys with bleached hair, too fat, or the way he dresses, you have the right to dismiss him, with little or no explanation.

                            However, care must be taken to assure that your reason cannot be construed as being discriminatory because of the big three (race, religion, or age). For example, if he can make the case that the hat or the way he wears it, is somehow representative of his race or religion... then he may have a case for wrongful dismissal. (Like wearing a head scarf or wearing his cap backwards, because he just happens to be a minority and all minoritie of his age wear their hats that way as a sense of macho or something.)

                            "Dress Codes" of course would make things much easier for the employer though. They can be simple and my son suggest you do a google search for "Dress Codes" or "Work Dress Codes" and you'll probably find a few examples. With a written dress code, you could simply state that while on the job, employees are expected to reflect the best interest of the company and that certain apparel is expected to be worn or not worn.

                            For example: In an office environment, employees will not wear denim jeans, T-shirts, shorts, open-toed shoes, sandles, or any type of apparel that will expose thier underclothes.

                            In a service work environment, one might state that the company shirt will be worn, no shorts or sandles, or any head apparel other than the company supplied baseball cap which must be worn with the company logo facing front.

                            You get the idea. Like in Walmart... employees wear khaki pants and the company polo shirt or vest, etc. McDonald's wear the company shirt with black pants. In some offices, men wear neckties or at least dress shirts with colors and no jeans of any type.

                            With a simple dress code, you have no worries at all. Without one, you can still discuss "appearance", but under the circumstances that you describe, I think I would approach this "valued" employee in a manner that gets him "on your page" so to speak.

                            Remember, some people just don't have all the manners or people skills that you do. If you value the guy, then you may want to bring him along with a little "education", respectfully done of course. Nobody likes to be embarrassed or made to feel inferiour.

                            Growing up, I have had the good fortune to have a couple of people who cared enough about me, to take me aside and gently tell me I had to "take it up a notch" or correct something. At the time, it was perhaps a bit embarrassing, but I was also grown-up enough to recognize the person's kind intentions. Hopefully this fellow with do the same with you.

                            I hope this helps and good luck,

                            CWS
                            There are other issues that will get a boss in trouble for terminating an employee. Sexual harassment! The boss is always making jokes or talks about sex which made me feel uncomfortable, and he put his arm around me and or touched me in an inappropriate manner. Hostile work environment, look it up. Unsafe work conditions, boss repeatedly forced me to work in an unsafe manner without proper safety gear. When I complained he threatened suspension or termination, guess he was not fooling?

                            Sure, it's real easy to let someone go, not so easy to avoid a lawsuit, unemployment payments of charges from the NLRB.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Employee problem

                              Tom i would love to work for you if you picked me up at home and supplied my lunch every day . your to nice unless he says thanks for what your doing for him
                              Charlie

                              My seek the peek fundraiser page
                              http://observatory.mountwashington.o...nal&fr_id=1040


                              http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/conditions.php

                              new work pictures 12/09
                              http://public.fotki.com/hvachawk/

                              Comment

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