Could really use some ideas ...

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by donna723, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I'm back! After two weeks without a computer at home, I finally have a brand new laptop that I'm still very fumble-fingered with but I'm learning.

    Just when I thought everything was going very well for a change, I suddenly find myself job-scared and starting to panic. I was hoping some of you level-headed folks might have some suggestions. As most of you know, I work for the State and have for the last 24 years. I only have a year and a half before I will be old enough to retire and get full social security benefits. If I had to retire now I would get so much less, I wouldn't be able to live on it!

    So there's only three of us where I work with the same job title of Secretary, but our jobs are completely different because we work in different areas. We are not interchangeable. All three of us have been here about the same length of time and have been in the same jobs the whole time and we all do some very specialized things that take a lot of training. The other two I'll call "D" and "S". So we get a new "Acting" second in command - my bosses' boss. "Acting" means temporary but could turn in to permanent. We'll call him "A". OK, so "A" decides that "D", who works in his office, doesn't have enough to do - easy enough to fix. But he decides that he would rather have "S" than "D". But to keep it from looking like he's got something against "D" he calls us all in and tells us that as of Aug. 1st, we will all be rotating jobs - indefinitely! We all just sat there stunned! It was all I could do to keep from throwing up! We all do different things, we all use different computer systems that are very complicated and required formal training. We can't just walk into each others' jobs!

    The other two don't like it any more than i do but they are both a few years younger than me and are sort of stuck with it. i am just in the middle for appearances. But there is a huge problem with me going to the job they want me to be in! The institution we work in is ENORMOUS! The worksite of this other job is a full quarter mile walk across a huge compound and at the bottom of a giant hill down 85 steep, hot concrete steps. If I ever have to go up those steps, I can barely catch my breath by the time I get to the top, too out of breath to even talk! Those steps seriously scare me! They're so high, when you're at the bottom looking up, the top seems to disappear into the clouds! Folks, I'm 64 years old! Not as skinny as I was twenty years ago! I have a heart murmur, my knees are already shot, I have arthritis in my ankles and probably my knees too, my feet and ankles swell on hot days and the veins in my legs and feet are getting very painful. And if that weren't enough, the temps here have been in the high 90's with a heat index of 104-105 almost every day! So my choices are between being forced to retire early and being even more poverty stricken than I was going to be ... or risk having a heart attack or heat stroke trying to get up those &%$# steps!

    I've already filed a grievance - it hasn't been heard yet but I'm not looking for much help there. This was done with the knowledge of the big boss who doesn't like "D" either! To take it further can take months. I only have about three months leave I can use, and I know that if it comes to that, it will take that long to get my SS and retirement in place. I am soooo scared! The only thing I thought I could really count on was my job and now apparently that's gone too! I would think that it was an attempt to get rid of some of the older, seasoned employees, but it is clearly a crude attempt to get rid of "D" with no regard to the affect it is having on all of us. I guess being left alone for another year and a half was too much to ask.

    If you made it this far, thanks for listening. If anyone has been through something like this before or knows of any legal goodies that might help my cause, PLEASE let me know.
  2. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Donna, I'm so sorry. What a mess. Do the other two secretaries feel the same way you do? Have they also filed grievances, or do you know? Is there anything HR can do for to support you until the grievance is decided, like allowing you to stay in your accustomed position?

    Can you get something from your doctor stating they need to accommodate your health needs by not having you climb stairs, walk a mile, etc.?

    My experience is in retail management, not government, but I'll keep thinking for anything that might help. Hugs.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    What a predicament! You say he's your boss's boss and temporary. Have you felt things out with your boss to see what he thinks about him and maybe try to talk to him about this situation? If your boss is happy with you, maybe he can pull for you to stay where you are. The only other thing I can think of is to try to find another (and maybe even better job) within the government you are currently working for. Available jobs are usually easy to find online if they are government positions.
  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Was the grievence filed through the union? If not, contact your union representative. I would also suggest that the three of you work as a team on this one by filing a joint grievence.

    Who is "A"s boss? I am also a State employee for my state so I do know that going up the ladder usually doesn't work - the higher you go, the less they care what happens on the local level. Your boss will care more about what "A" does than "A"'s boss.

    Do you each have the same boss or different bosses?

    Let's hope that "D" knows how to fight for her position.

    Your HR can tell you how you rank in senority. One place I worked hired two people within two days of each other. The first person hired has senority even if there is a day difference. I am not sure what happens if hired the same day - maybe the person who accepted first?

    Our State is cutting jobs left and right - there are no open positions available at the direct care and direct care support level. I would only be able to "bump" someone out of their job if the State let me go (MOU), not if I choose to leave.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2010
  5. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Andy, we don't have a union. State employees here are not allowed to have a union. We do have an Employees Association though and I sent them a copy of the grievance. We each have separate immediate supervisors but "A" is over them all, and in the case of "D", she directly works for him. This whole thing is because he would rather have "S" working for him than "D". And nobody is really losing a job, he just wants us all to switch places. But in my case, where he wants me to go is a quarter mile walk up and down a huge flight of steps in 99 degree weather and I'm really taking my chances trying to do that - besides the fact that we'll all will be lost trying to do each others jobs and no real training available. So he's taking me out of a job that I can easily do at my age and trying to put me into another one that will be dangerous to my health and safety. And we all know exactly where we rank in seniority because we all came within months of each other. We've had all kinds of cutbacks too and in this rural area there just are not any other State jobs within driving distance.

    I was talking to my sister in law on the phone tonight and was telling him about it. He suggested that I call the ACLU! He said they love to get cases like this! And first thing Monday I'm gonna do it! It really qualifies as age discrimination because they're taking me out of my job that I can do and putting me in another one that I will have a difficult time with due to my age and physical condition, making me choose between endangering my health or being forced to retire early and put myself into financial jeopardy.
  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    There's also the ADA if you have a qualifying disability - the State would be required to make accommodations for your specific needs. My guess is that they would decide it would be more cost effective to keep you where you are than to do that. Although, it would be more cost effective to do that now as opposed to switching people into jobs they aren't familiar with. Apparently, A has no clue how different each of your jobs are. On the upside, a move like this will probably keep him as only "acting" and not permanent.
  7. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    If they expect your to walk that distance, shouldn't they provide for one of those rescals or some sort of transportation? I can't imagine employee's carry linens, food, supplies that distance on their backs. If a new position is forced on you then aren't they required to provide accommodations?

    Donna, don't you think on the first day that this all transpires that everything will be in total chaos and it will get sorted out? Change is very difficult for some of us(me being one) especially if it is forced on us out of the blue and for no particular reason. Stay calm, don't do anything rash. Bide your 18 months until retirement. Work on getting accomodations to get you where you need to be and attempt to do a good job with NO training.(sounds absolutely moronic). Even if you aren't doing the work at the level of your previous job, do the best you can and then retire. In the meantime, A will get to move his assistant out to another position somewhere or he will leave and peace will return.
    I hope your current boss will work on getting you back to working for him and this becomes a "tempest in a teapot".
    Hugs. Don't even think about giving away your retirement benefits that will be owed to you in 18months. You have been a reliable, honest, hard working employee and having someone force you into early retirement as collateral damage for some plan of moving staff is ridiculous. He should get the cajones to council his assistant in how he wants things done in his office.
  8. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ditto Fran! Do whatever you can, safely, to stay at this job. No way should someone new come in and change your retirement plan in an instant by forcing you out too early.

    See if they can accomodate the job in your current office. So you do not have to do the stairs. Maybe they can buy another computer for that other program used for the other job.

    What did he say when you told him you would not be able to do those stairs?
  9. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    To do the job in the school, you have to actually BE in the school - no way you could do it from somewhere else. At least half of that distance down there is those steep steps up that huge hill. Even some of our young, healthy people are huffing and puffing by the time they get to the top, much less in this heat. It was 99 degrees here yesterday! The job in the school is perfect for the girl who is down there now. She's in her early 50's, one of those little perky, energetic ones that you just know was a cheerleader in high school! And she's used to the steps. She's been in her job for 24 years too and she loves it. It's hard on all three of us but I'm the only one this close to retirement. And no way will they be sending "D" to the school - she hurt herself 10 years ago and still gets to use a handicapped spot!

    And I won't lose my retirement if I leave early, it will just be a lot less. My pension will be lower and my SS will be a lot less if I retire before I'm 66. But going up those steps - the way I feel when I get to the top - I KNOW I shouldn't be doing it! I can't breathe! I would really be pushing my luck! I'm not willing to miss seeing my grandson grow up because of the State of Tennessee!
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I like the thought about ADA. See if you can get your dr to put somethhing in writing about excessive physical strain being a health hazard. Then pull it out when this change occurs or right before so they know that you'll be happy to take that job, but they will need to accomodate you getting there and back to your car. It IS federal law to either provide a path accessible to those who are physically challenged or provide transportation.
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Go see your doctor first thing Monday. Get him to write a letter limiting what you are able to do. Then take it to HR and the boss. It then becomes and ADA issue. The knees and heart murmur will make it so that they will have to either provide some way to get you to the school to do that job or to keep you in your old job. Chances are it will become so sticky an issue that the other two will have to change and you will not.

    With health issues it becomes a disability issue and they MUST accommodate you if they insist on moving you out of a job that you are perfectly able to do into a job that you physically cannot do. Just like they could not take you from working in an office to digging ditches if your health could not take it. If they ask why you didn't mention the health earlier, tell them that with your current job it is not a problem and with the new job it will be.

    Have the doctor mention specific things in your current job that you can do and specific things in the new job that you cannot. Have these things listed for him before the meeting. Not able to walk more than X distance, must be in controlled climate and not exposed to extremes of heat or cold outside the range of 65-80 degrees, unable to climb more than 24 steps at a time, job should be seated 75% of the time, no kneeling, etc....

    List the things your job requires you to do and then write down some limits that are compatible with your job and NOT compatible with the new job. Let your doctor read and evaluate it and get a letter for you that incorporates those things and any other limits he feels are reasonable. If any lifting is part of the new job and not part of your old job then include those also.

    Chances are the doctors note will mean that they cannot force you to change jobs, but you need to act as soon as possible.

    If you get a bunch of grief over this, call your state representatives. They have a vested interest in making sure you are treated well and they have influence over state bureaucracy. First see your doctor and find out what can be done that way and with your boss to stop this.

    I bet your boss is not happy because he will no longer have any productivity because the other person will have no clue as to how to use the computer system or do any of the other things you do.

    So many times new bosses are idiot.

    Whatever happens do NOT quit. Fight any move to fire you, even if it is just the boss trying to make you miserable enough to quit. At your age you have an EXCELLENT chance to sue for age discrimination and to charge that they only want to move you to force you to quit so they don't have to pay your pension/retirement. The ACLU may be very helpful, as will the office that handles ADA stuff.

    I am so very sorry.