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Human Resources/Going over their head?

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Question
Shirley
My husband was recently suspended, with pay, until the investigation of his alleged wrondoings was complete. It is very complicated, but it was the result of a customer complaint.In dealing with an irate customer, husband lost his cool and acted unprofessionally because he raised  his voice and used the F word. He did not however assualt or give the finger as the customer said. He was 'mostly' innocent. Their are witnesses to support him, though I dont believe they were questioned. Other than this incident, his record is pretty good.
He works in municipal goverment. At the first meeting with his supervisors, a rep from HR was present, taking notes. The meeting was cordial. Moments later, was called into a second meeting, without the HR person. This meeting was more confrontational on the part of the supervisors.
Against my advice, he sent an email to the HR rep, since she wasnt at the meeting, to give her his side of the story.
He was shocked to find out when he got back to work he was suspended for three days without pay.
Since the punishment was very harsh, I cant help but wonder if the HR person forwarded it to his supervisores, and they might have felt he 'went over their heads', and being vindictive, gave him a harsher than necessary punishment. He said this had happened to another employee a few years ago when he met with the head of the department, who also got a harsher than required punishment.
He feels that it was OK to send the email to HR, he was just giving her his side, which he was unable to do. He doesnt think it is going over heads.
I think it was a mistake.
What is your opinion?

Answer
He should have been able to talk to Human Resources. It is unfortunate if she took it to the supervisor although she is required by law to investigate the situation and as such use whatever evidence she is given.

The three days without pay suspension is not unusual, it is what I would do in the situation as well. This is a standard and used for these type of situations. It gives the employee and the supervisor time to cool off.

This is an unfortunate incident, however, a companies customers are their lifeline. We also are very harsh with an employee that mishandles an irate customer. The proper way to handle an irate customer is to listen to them...let them vent. When they are all finished say...I am sorry you feel that way, would you like to speak to my manager. Takes it away from the employee and puts it in the hands of the manager or supervisor.

Shirley

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Shirley McAllister, CPP, PHR

Expertise

I can answer questions pertaining to Compensation, Health Benefits, Retirement Plans, Payroll,Payroll taxes, Employee selection, Employee Termination, Training, and Employee Incentives. I have offices in U.S., Canada, UK, South Africa,Australia and NZ. I am most confident in the U.S. and Canadian but have knowledge of the internationals. I do not have extensive knowledge of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. I do have some Human Resource Knowledge in those areas. Please do not ask me homework questions, I do not have time to answer them.

Experience

I currently hold both the U.S. and Canadian Payroll Certifications. I currently hold the SHRM PHR certification. I have worked in the Human Resources area with high emphasis on compensation and benefits for 25 years at the same company. My company is an international company and I work with our International offices whenever there is a Human Resource area needing addressed. I volunteer on the American Payroll Association hotline and have for the last 10 years or so. I answer many questions each week for other payroll and HR professionals, mostly on taxes, benefits and compensation issues. I have been the trustee for our 401K plan for Retirement benefits and our 125 Cafeteria Plan for Health Insurance benefits.

Organizations
SHRM, National APA, National DOLEA, State National Mentoring Network I.O.M.A. Advisory Board

Publications
I.O.M.A. BNA

Education/Credentials
Boise State University Human Resource Certificate Program PHR through SHRM CPP through American Payroll Association Payroll Administrator and Payroll Supervisor certification through Canadian Payroll Association Published writer of Payroll and Benefit articles in a payroll Publication 25 years experience in an International Company

Awards and Honors
Citation of Merit 8 years in a row for hotline service for A.P.A. Honor Award for child mentoring service through RSVP and National Mentoring A "Pat on the Back" award for outstanding leadership as a Youth Group Leader by "The Salvation Army." Runner up for Employee of the Year at my Company twice and Employee of the month 4 times.

Past/Present Clients
I used to answer questions on Ask.com when they had a similar quesition and answer section. I volunteer for APA hotline I also belong to several HR forums when I often answer questions

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