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Manager From Hell Behaves Unprofessionally In Front Of Customers And Coworkers Alike

Bitch EncounterHello all, it's Red Rider here again. I've been meaning to write in for awhile now, but have been super busy lately. There have been some major changes of late at the Bullseye where I work, and most of my awesome managers have been transferred to other stores and replaced almost overnight!

My awesome and approachable HR head is gone as well as two sales-floor managers that I absolutely adored. Apparently the higher-ups at corporate like to "switch things up" from time to time to keep us lowly slaves on our toes. I seriously don't understand the need for a complete management overhaul like this since we're one of the top stores in the district, but it's not really my place to question the decision I suppose.

The sales-floor managers have already been permanently replaced (one seems nice, the other will be discussed more later), and we have a temp HR guy filling in until a permanent replacement is found. This story isn't exactly about the new management, but it definitely comes into play in the situation I'm now in.

I've been at Bullseye for over a year and a half (surprisingly this makes me one of the more "senior" team members which is fairly ridiculous honestly), and I basically work in 3 areas: sales-floor (softlines), pricing team, and Food Avenue (the little crappy cafe most Bullseye's have) with a bit of training in other areas as well. I've worked primarily in the Bullseye cafe for the last year, and I've been pierced (3 holes on each ear, the bottom ones stretched to a 00gauge size/about 10mm) since I started. When I first trained over there, I was told that my piercings wouldn't be a problem and I could just wear stud earrings and plugs in the bottom holes on days that I worked in the cafe. This was also repeated in the online training guide I had to read and be tested on to get my serve-safe certification. I will repeat: I worked cafe for over a year and piercings were not a problem! The other people in the cafe even wore earrings as well. Cue new management and suddenly I can't wear earrings anymore.

Carolanne flexThe first I heard of this problem was a few weeks after the new managers had started, I was told my earrings were a "health hazard" because they could fall in the food. I explained that I couldn't take out the top ones in my cartilage, because they'd close up almost immediately (my body tends to reject piercings) and was told that was fine I could keep them in, but I had to wear bandaids over my ears whenever I worked then. I did that the day something was initially said to me, and realized how completely stupid that was. 1. Band-aids are much more likely to fall off into the food than stud earrings are, and 2. When do people wear band-aids? When they have open wounds of course. So basically customers are seeing me looking like I tried to pull a Van Gogh and chop my ears off, and assuming I have open/unclean wounds around their food. On top of that, I'm poor and seriously can't afford to buy the amount of bandaids it would take to cover my ears up 3 per ear the 5 or 6 days a week that I work in the cafe (seriously that's over a box a week).

I went home frustrated, told my husband, and he was livid. He claimed since it hadn't been a problem before they couldn't force me to do anything with them, it could be considered as discrimination and said I should make a huge fuss over it. I didn't of course, but the next time I worked it got worse. I was approached while I was working by one of the new managers, we'll call her IceQueen who I had never even spoken to before that day and the following exchange took place:

IceQueen: "I don't think we've met yet, I'm IceQueen one of the new managers and you must be Red Rider, hello. Anyway, I need you to take out your earrings for me."

Me: "I already explained that I can't, because they'll close up."

IceQueen: "Well then you can't work cafe anymore. In refusing to remove your earrings, you're basically refusing to meet your core job roles over here which is technically insubordination."

Me: "Wait, what? I'm not refusing anything, I can take out the bottom 2 piercings if you want but the top ones will close within an hour if I take them out."

IceQueen: "You can't work over here anymore then, you'll have to work in another area of the store."

Me: *Looking visibly upset, because cafe is where I get almost all of my hours*

IceQueen: "Now, I'm not saying your hours will be cut, but hours this time of year are pretty scarce in other areas of the store. I suggest you think on it."

Carolanne fightWith that she walked away, leaving me trying (and failing to hold back tears) at my post in the cafe. She didn't take me off to the side to discuss this or anything so cafe customers, and a few of my coworkers who were over there on their breaks heard the entire exchange. I immediately ran to the back to do some dishes and get myself together so I didn't burst into tears in front of customers. My coworkers who overheard thought it was completely unprofessional of her to basically threaten me in front of customers, and urged me to go to HR and report her. When I told my husband about it later, he urged me to do the same.

My hours have definitely been screwy lately. One week they'll be normal, and the next I'll have literally one 4 hour shift (which sucks since my commute is 2 hours each way by bus). I'm keeping an eye on it, but it seems to be becoming a pattern of every other week having to fight for shifts. I don't want to cause trouble, but if this keeps up I'm going to need a new job.

So here's my dillemma RHU, how should I handle this situation? I looked at my schedule for next week, and I'm scheduled in another area of the store but with about the same number of hours. I don't really want to make a huge fuss or anything unless my hours start to get cut. The HR guy is new and just a temp, so even if I felt comfortable approaching him with the situation (which I don't) he'd leave, and I'd still be stuck with IceQueen as a manager. I feel like I already made a bad first impression on her, which is pretty upsetting.

Apparently a lot of my coworkers already dislike IceQueen, because of the way she talks to people. She rubs just about everyone the wrong way. I really just want to get this situation resolved with as little drama as possible, so what should I do (if anything)?

Cheers,

--Red Rider

 

Comments

trekkiebabe

Definetly talk to someone about it, go as high up the ladder as you can! If you can get the previous managers who said it was okay for you to wear the earrings to sign something, or even get your current coworkers to vouch for you, do so. It sounds like she's already cutting your hours, and provide as much documentation as you can.

lekosis

Sounds like a good excuse to get a new job if you ask me. That kind of steady work history will at least get you an interview at probably ANY other retail place you apply for, and it sounds like you've got some coworkers who would happily provide you a good reference.

People who are assholes are largely so because they know they can get away with it. They'll never change, no matter how much you want to get them fired. Why let it ruin YOUR life? There are plenty of other places that will hire you, trust me, and that deserve you a lot more than this bitch does.

Put in your two weeks' and revel in a bit of spiteful glee as you imagine how much Ice Queen has to scramble her pathetic ass to find someone to cover your shifts for you.

WiseAss

According to you, you have seniority and witnesses. Upper management/HR will be more likely to trust you then a manager who was just move to your location. In fact, why don't you call up your old managers so you can get their testimonies that having piercings was fine when they were there.

Angela

I also work for the bullseye (almost 13 years) and have notice that things get stirred up everytime there is a change in managers. I think you do need to talk to someone about how she handled the situation. Even say that the guests found it inappropriate. If you don't feel comfortable talking to any of the managers in your store call the integrity hotline, I have used it a few times and found it helpful.

The Last Archimedean

Go directly to Ice Queen's superior, along with all your co-workers who witnessed the incident, and demand that she be fired at once for unprofessional behavior. And demand that he replacement know right away that it IS OK for you to wear all your earrings.

LadyPhoenix

Since you checked online and it said you could have piercings, print them out. Also talk to your older managers about the piercings.

Then round up the workers that heard the conversation and go to the higher ups. Tell them that your piercings are ok, and show the proof.

Then tell them about Ice Queen's incident.

I don't know if that will get her fired, per say, but it will make her shut up.

Zalira

Having been in almost the exact same potion as Red Rider, I'm sending virtual hugs your way!! Definitely get your co-workers who witnessed the event go with you to your HR, go as high up in the management chain as you need to before some can actually do something about what IceQueen did! No manager should ever make their employees cry like that. Ever. It asked that they are a pathetic human being with an inflated ego.

Best of luck with getting your situation dealt with!

Greymon

Sounds like a typical management change to me. New ones roll in and piss over everything to prove they are alpha fe/male. If it is in black and white that you can wear them. Show it to HR and start on those three D's to back yourself up.

Skittles

Don't forget to document everything, and always keep the original. Definitely go to HR as the first step and explain the issue. Then go above the HR and your managers heads if the issue isn't resolved. Keep going higher on the chain. If necessary contact the state labor board and figure out your options there. It sounds like you have and excellent harassment/hostile work environment case since she publicly humiliated you without any reasonable cause since her statement about earrings is untrue.
Also I would consider looking into maybe a transfer to a different store maybe a closer location.

The Last Archimedean

I would consider having some friends arrange an "accident" for IceQueen, but I get very vindictive when I'm tired.

photoslave

Next time you are in, shove the dress code rules in their faces. If it says the earrings are fine, then keep wearing them. Legally, they can't do shit to you.

liinjo

Paperwork. You stated in your story that the training specified earrings and were not an issue. If you can please find people and highlight the area that you mentioned that allow you to wear earrings. Bring this to HR, ask him to discuss it with management, and to send your issues to coporate. Ask for copies of the emails and names of who he sent it to, it's your right as an employee. If coporate sides with IceQueen, though, you're outta luck.

Bored at the Bookstore

Definitely print out and carry on your person copies of the dress code. If they can bully you on this, they'll find something else, over and over, until you quit so that they don't have to fork over unemployment. If nothing else, make them fire you!

And if they are so worried that your earrings might fall into the food, why aren't they mandating a hairnet that covers your ears, instead of harassing you? We used to wear them at the school cafeteria I worked in for a while... And heck, I'm completely unpierced!

Da Mouse

I would have to be in agreement with many that posted already. Bring documentation. Show that the online training and information stated you could wear the jewelry.
Also, since you have been there a while and worked in that area, you must have a few loyal, regular customers that have seen you with your earrings. On a day off, I would go in, try and find some of them to vouch and back you up in regards to this sudden policy change.

If you enjoy the job, stand up for yourself and do what you must. Contact the senior management / HR, explain the situation. Any person with a brain will put two and two together.

Kitai

My advice would be to start shopping for a new job.

While I do believe it is true that unless your dress code specifically forbids the piercings that the management cannot require you comply with the new demands to remove them, the reality is that, unless there are city/state employment laws forbidding it, they can retaliate for your complaints/policy adherence in passive-aggressive ways, as they have been (IE, cutting your hours).

That said, while you shop for new employment, I would strongly advise you make use of the channels at your disposal to report the mistreatment and attempts to circumvent written policy. At the very least you might get IceQueen reprimanded. At best you might be able to get her removed (albeit most likely to another store). Additionally, as others have said, document document document. Anytime you have an encounter with her, or another member of management, in which you are mistreated or requested to act in contradiction to the written policies, make note of it in a journal with date/time/description of event/witnesses. In this way you can report, accurately, a trend of mistreatment if it comes to it. However, above all make sure you act professionally and courteously. If reasonable (that is won't put you at risk with the law and won't have a significant financial impact on the company), comply with the request being made on a one-time basis each time. If they want you to bandage your ears, ask for bandages from the first aid supplies.

Chicajojobe

I've never heard that about earrings. Maybe in very strict school kitchens but in just restaurants...I frequent an extremely hipster cafe, and there the employees who DON'T have gauged ears are the minority.

Even if they want to be strict about it, can't you just wear a hairnet and pull the sides over your ears so that the rare chance one of your earrings does fall out it'd just fall into the net?

CrazyCatLady

I see things differently to most people - and I do have piercings.

I'm from the UK, and hold a food hygiene certificate, and the training I've received (several times, several places) all says that piercings are not OK. They can and do fall out, and as such aren't a great idea.

Yes, being pulled up on this in the cafe isn't ideal but that doesn't make it any less of an issue. It's not discrimination either.

Retired from Hell

Don't bother trying to get the manager fired. When I worked at OhMann's Fabric & Crafts store we got this completely impossible manager who lied, belittled us, changed her mind every other day and then yelled at us for doing things yesterday's way when she hadn't told us today's way yet, micromanaged on tasks she knew nothing about while allowing the big picture to got to pot, AND violated company policy on handling the money, and when we all -- I mean ALL -- signed a petition to get rid of her, you know what happened?
Nothing.

Liz

If the uncovered piercings are the main problem, try using surgical tape. It'll probably work out cheaper as you just use the amount you need each time,and since it'll last longer it'll work out cheaper than plasters. In the uk (don't know about the US) they're around the same price anyway.

Ky Kapow

I totally agree with everything being said about this being totally unfair. I've experienced this exact same situation during my food service days. My ears are also 00ga and I've had at least 30 piercings in my life (not all at once, of course). I would suggest that instead of band aids or tape to cover your earrings, which I agree is ridiculous, looks disgusting and is much more likely to fall into food, you could purchase some clear acrylic spacers to prevent the holes from closing up. They are almost invisible and fairly inexpensive. At least until you are able to find a better solution. Good luck with everything!

Oh, and I've never had a piece of jewelry just randomly fall out before in the 14 years I've had them. Of course it depends on the type of jewelry you have and the location of the piercing. Anything with a captive bead is a little more risky than a screw on bead or similar. Simply check that the beads are properly secured before starting your shift.

AlwaysBeNiceToTechSupport

echoing everyone else in here...

1. document the incident with dates and 'witnesses' that were around during the uncomfortable/upsetting incident. even if you're wrong about the dress code, she should have pulled you aside to make such a comment/threat.

2. print-off the dress code info, and be sure to double-check if there's any specific additional guidelines for cafe employees.

3. ask icequeen for the documentation regarding the piercing-less dress code. approach this task with the mindset that you're 'simply confused', and that you might have received conflicting info when you started and just want to be absolutely sure moving forward, for your sanity's sake.

4. clear spacers are a pretty good idea, because it will at least make them less noticeable. drawing less attention to yourself is the way to go, at least until you get a perm HR guy that you're comfortable with.

5. i do recommend talking to the temp HR guy about it...if nothing else, just simply ask what the company policies are on piercings. he might be a HUGE help, as he would have JUST learned all of the current policies while coming on-board.

and 6. yes, you are completely within reason to start looking for a new job. MANY places couldn't give less of a shit about piercings/tattoos/bodymods. hell, you might even have really good luck applying for a tech support/call center role where absolutely no one cares what you look like, because you'll never see them.

AroundTheBlock

Just another Echo and a bit of a rant, maybe some insight...


If i read correctly you stated "I was told that my piercings wouldn't be a problem and I could just wear stud earrings and plugs in the bottom holes on days that I worked in the cafe. This was also repeated in the online training guide I had to read" if it is in your online training guide then it is policy. You do NOT have to remove them if they are studs and plugs. This is simple discrimination and should be thrown at them with full force. Seems like your good managers probably got sent to failing stores in an attempt to save those stores whiles these "new" managers were probably failing and they get sent to a new store in hopes that the employees will keep the job running smoothly while the management which are the other store's "fxxk ups" at other stores that the store doesn't have a good reason to fire (IceQueen screams this with her unprofessionalism) them or get rid of them. (maybe these incidents will give them better reason to can her) Most big box stores do this. Therefore they probably don't know policy. Look into your sotre's policy and then follow what that states not what the managers say. If they noticeably cut your hours after this talk to the higher ups because they are discriminating against you. You have some of the most seniority you should get some of the most hours.

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