Employee thinks supervisor is out to get him

After recently presenting a written warning to an employee for performance issues, he told me that he felt the working environment was very difficult to work in, that is boss and trainer are condescending and have made fun of him, and he thinks that they are out to get him fired.  I asked him to elaborate and send me his grievance in writing with specific examples of his concerns.  He is not sure he wants to have it investigated.  Where do I go from here?  I have vague remarks with no specific examples and the employee not wanting me to speak with the supervisor. 


  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • There are a lot of people, in the face of disciplinary action, will try to shift the blame from themselves to others to try to get out of trouble.  If you have asked for specific information and he is unwilling to give it to you, then I don't think there is anything else that you can do.  It is quite possible that this employee just doesn't like his supervisor.  We all have stuff about our jobs that we don't particularly care for. 

  • If your HR policy states that an investigation will proceed with a written grievance, and the employee fails or declines to issue one, I would document that and then close the case. However, if your HR policy states that mere mention of a negative issue is privy to an investigation, I would document the interview with the employee and hold a general census of the supervisor's other direct reports, just to do due diligence and so the employee cannot try and open a retaliation claim if he should be terminated. He may very well be wanting to turn the tide on the supervisor for the written warning. However, he may have a just claim and is afraid he will be retaliated against. It is not for HR to make that determination without, in the very least, making some sort of unbiased effort to research the issue. Plus, doing so will protect the company by using a "balanced" hand.
  • It can't hurt to talk to the supervisor and ask him for his input on the employee who feels singled out (as many do when they face written warnings).  Then, start asking about how that employee is "fitting in" and see if another shoe drops.  Even if it doesn't, most people figure where there's smoke, there's fire, and your inquiry may be enough to squelch any inappropriate behavior.

  • The detail you requested is needed for you to move forward with a formal inquiry / investigation.  What you can do without his follow-through on formal complaint is review the warning and behavior.  If the warning is justified, then receiving the warning is on the employee.  Additionally, I would recommend reviewing the managers history with corrective actions on the team.  If all seems consistent, and all seem to be measured with the same yard stick, then this warning is as fair as any other.  If you identify inconsistencies, then you can address the subject with the incident of this employees corrective action being one example of several you would use to address inconsistency with the manager.  If you don't identify any problem, then you can have a follow-up conversation with the complaining employee about ownership and accountability for their behavior as you found that the manager is consistent in applying standards of performance for the team.

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