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Career Q&A | By Marie G. McIntyre, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

Employee steals boss' thunder; job threat follows harassment claim

Q: My husband recently hired someone who has turned out to be an ambitious braggart. "Brad" will do anything to get the attention of upper management. When my husband is speaking in meetings, Brad frequently interrupts. He constantly tells stories that exaggerate his accomplishments and often takes credit for my husband's work. We are becoming concerned, because this guy clearly seems to be after my husband's job. What should he do?

A: First of all, your husband must avoid overreacting. Getting into an obvious power struggle with one of his own employees will only make him look like a weak, insecure manager. Fortunately, blatant credit-grabbers frequently turn people off with their self-serving narcissistic statements, so Brad may actually be shooting himself in the foot.

To be on the safe side, however, your husband should make a concerted effort to shore up his own reputation and strengthen his relationship with key managers. If he tends to be somewhat quiet and reserved, this would be an excellent time to become more assertive and ensure that management is aware of his own contributions.

Employee feels threatened after sexual harassment complaint

Q: A few months ago, I went to human resources and made a formal sexual harassment complaint about my manager, which resulted in his termination. His replacement is a competent, experienced woman who initially seemed empathetic and approachable. Unfortunately, that impression was incorrect.

My new manager recently informed me that both her boss and the HR director have expressed concerns about my job performance. When I told her that I had received the highest possible rating on my last six performance reviews, she replied that management's perception had changed and that I would be watched very closely in the future.

Now I feel as though I have to document everything I do, which is extremely stressful. Although I'm a salaried employee, I have begun using the time clock to punch in and out, just to be sure my work hours are recorded. I have also started keeping a log of every task that I complete.

I'm sure this threat originated with the HR director, because he was not pleased when I followed through with my sexual harassment claim. He told me not to discuss that issue with anyone, so now I don't know where to turn.

A: Retaliation for filing a sexual harassment complaint is against the law, so the logical place to seek help and advice would be the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Based on your description, this implied threat to your employment appears to be an obvious attempt to retaliate. If your HR manager is in on the scheme, then your only recourse is to find an external source of assistance.

The EEOC can review your legal options and help you decide whether to file a formal charge against your company. In the meantime, continue to document your activities and consider starting a job search, because you may never again feel comfortable in this apparently hostile environment.

Should sick leave information be accessible to entire office?

Q: Whenever someone takes sick leave, that information is publicly posted in our online calendar. Everyone in the company has access to this program. Even though I'm not sick very often, I really don't think it's anyone else's business. Is this a violation of my legal rights?

A: Not being an attorney, I can't comment on the legality of this practice. But from a communication standpoint, it's the fact of an absence that matters, not the cause. In the interest of efficiency, many offices indicate whether people are in or out, but the reason is generally irrelevant.

Share your concerns about privacy with your boss or human resources manager, then ask if the posting could be changed to simply show "personal time" when someone takes vacation or sick leave. This is an easy fix that should not inconvenience anyone, so your request might very well be granted.

Employee steals boss' thunder; job threat follows harassment claim 06/30/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 30, 2012 4:30am]
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