I don’t want to drive an oversized company vehicle, security guard is addressing me by my first name, and more

It’s five short answers to five short questions. Here we go…

1. I don’t want to be the backup driver for an oversized company vehicle

A couple years ago, I agreed to be trained (by a professional) as a backup/substitute driver for an oversized vehicle my business utilizes. At first, I thought it would be a fun change of pace compared to my daily desk job duties, but I’ve grown to dread it and become anxious every time I’m asked to drive. A couple of very minor accidents have occurred while I’ve been at the wheel, and I worry that one day something more serious might happen.

My manager is aware of these incidents and my increased dislike of driving, and her response has been “how can we make this easier?” or “there’s no one else who can do it.” Since we can’t make the vehicle smaller or the streets wider, I feel like it’s hopeless. Just practicing more isn’t going to cut it either, in my opinion. My manager says they will ultimately train more people, but they’ve yet to pursue it and we’ve recently been left with a number of staff vacancies. The other day it occurred to me that even though the business’s insurance would cover an accident, if it was deemed my fault, I could end up with a traffic ticket and a black mark on my DMV record, right? This is just going to make me worry even more! How can I successfully back out of an assignment like this?

“I appreciated the opportunity to give it a try, but after the several accidents, it’s clear to me that I can’t safely drive this vehicle. I’m not comfortable risking my safety and the safety of others, or the black marks on my driving record, so I need to permanently step down from doing it.” If she pushes back, say, “I understand, but it’s become a safety issue. We need to get another backup trained, because I’m not comfortable doing it. I’m sorry about that — I wish I were.”

2. My manager asked if I don’t respect her because she’s a woman

My current manager and I do not get along very well, and there is definite tension. My performance, though, is consistent and is definitively better than most, so there is no risk of me losing my job.

During my end of the year review, however, she asked me, “Do you not respect me as your manager because I am a woman?” I was totally taken aback by the question, but answered the question honestly (no, gender has nothing to do with it). Is she allowed to ask me those kinds of questions? If no, what is my recourse as an employee? Should I be doing anything to log these types of incidents?

Yes, she’s allowed to ask you that. I’m not sure what she hoped to gain by it — it’s fairly unlikely that you’re going to tell her that you don’t respect her because she’s a woman, unless you’re seriously an ass — but there’s no prohibition on her asking, nor any reason for you to log the incident.

Also, for whatever it’s worth: Answering “gender has nothing to do with it” is as good as saying “I don’t respect you, but your gender isn’t the reason why.” That’s not likely to help the relationship. And I wouldn’t assume that there’s no risk of you losing your job despite your performance; people can and do get fired all the time just because their boss doesn’t like them. And even if they don’t get fired, they often lose out on growth opportunities, end up first on layoff lists, and other bad consequences. If you can’t repair the relationship, I’d make sure you’re at least looking at other options.

3. Security guard is addressing me by my first name and I don’t like it

I am a contractor and the security guard at the company singles me out every morning by saying good morning and using my first name. I try to ignore him, but he stands in front of the door I need to pass through. Now odd people I do not know are addressing me by my first name. I do not like it. Also, he shows up in different parts of the plant. I feel like he is keeping track of me. I am considering contacting my contract company. What do you think?

Is it possible that he uses your first name because he’s friendly and it’s common to address people by name, and he shows up in other parts of the plant because he’s a security guard and it’s his job to be moving around? And that other people are addressing you by name because that’s friendly behavior in most workplaces? Unless there’s more to this than what’s here, I don’t see how you could complain about this without looking pretty out there.

4. School fired me and is holding final paycheck until I complete student narratives

My husband and I worked at the same school. For whatever reason (they did not give us one), they let us go on the last day of the semester. They do not do report cards in this school; they do narratives – a very long process and many hours of work. My husband and I had started the narratives on our personal computer, which died before finishing the narratives. We recognized this might happened and so had emailed them to our work email accounts. When they fired us, they took our keys, badges, and locked us out of our email. We have no access to the narratives.

However, they say that until we finish our narratives, they will not pay us our last paycheck. We are required to print the narratives – about 3-5 pages each on every child – but they have taken the ability to print at school, leaving us to do this with our home printer and ink — which we need now to find new jobs with. Are we honestly required to spend another 4 or so hours to do these narratives when they have fired us?

They cannot hold your last paychecks. They’re required by law to pay you for all time worked, regardless of whether you finish the narratives (and your state law will tell you how soon you must receive those checks; generally it’s going to be within two weeks). However, you should finish the narratives anyway, because it’s the right thing to do for your students, but they should pay you for the time that it takes to finish them — and obviously they should give the files you need to finish them.

You should each contact them (separately, not as a unit) and say this: “I’d be glad to finish the narratives, but I need my work files to do so. Please email me the file titled ____ and I’d be glad to finish these up. Can you confirm that you will be paying me for that time, as required by state law? I’m also assuming that I’ll receive my last paycheck by ___, also as required by state law.”

(Google “last paycheck” and the name of your state to find out what their time limit is on that.)

5. What is this interview question getting at?

Why would they ask “What part of your house is the most organized?” during a retail interview? And “What is the least organized, and why?”

They probably have a theory that your answer will give them some sort of insight into your organization/cleanliness habits, and they’re probably looking for people with tendencies toward neatness.

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