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Question
Hello Mark. I was hoping I could get an outside perspective on my peculiar situation.

I work for a local, city municipality, a public building. I have a coworker that has been having issues with his girlfriend. A few weeks ago she hired a private investigator to follow my coworker, her boyfriend around. From what my coworker tells me, the private investigator accidentally followed me around instead. He supposedly took pictures of me at work and tried to follow me home. Earlier yesterday I find out that this coworker of mine has a voice recorder that his girlfriend is making him wear. When he came to work yesterday, he wrote on a pad saying he has a voice recorder, then proceeded to show it to me. I explained to him that I didn't want to be recorded.

Later that day I let my direct supervisor know of both of these incidents. He shrugged it off and then said that in our state, Arizona, he can record audio of private conversations. I looked up the federal law regarding this and it states that in certain states, it is legal to record conversation as long as one party knows. However, if he records a private conversation that he is not a party of, he then is violating the law. My supervisor brushed this off and told me to ignore it. Should I take this up to HR?

Thanks for your time and consideration.

Jared.

Answer
Hello Jared !

This is situation is absurd.  

It is an invasion of your privacy, it probably is illegal, it is in appropriate behavior in the workplace, it is a form of harassment, and probably other "things" a lawyer could find that are illegal.

You should head to HR, explain the situation, tell them you went to your supervisor and what his or her response was to your complaint.  If HR does not act, pay a visit to the closest local office  of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) which is the enforcement arm of the EEOC. Usually you need to be in a protected class for a complaint to be valid but it would be worth the time or a visit to the office. Try the OFCCP office first. Even a phone call may tell you if you can use those alternatives.  Last resort, find an attorney.

If your HR department is progress, active, pro-active they should act on this.

Best of luck!  Thanks for you question!

Mark  

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Mark Eichinger

Expertise

Any type of question related to domestic and international Human Resources work. My H.R. passions include Compensation design and systems in competitive markets, Health and Safety in Industrial Environments, Performance Management, Talent Management (Hiring, Selection, Employee Development, Compensation, Creating Space, etc.), Communications, Coaching, Counseling, Leadership, and Management. Questions I cannot answer: I am sure there are questions within these categories that I may not be able to answer but my experience below would suggest those would be few.

Experience

I own International Human Resources Coaching and Consulting, LLC. www.IHRCConline.com. Previously, I successfully held corporate executive and management leadership positions from 1979 to 2007 in two $9B+ multi-national corporations. Positions included: Vice President, Human Resources for the Asia Pacific Region, Eaton Corporation; I was based in Shanghai, China. Prior to that assignment, Vice President, Human Resources International and Operations, Eaton World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio with global responsibility for Eaton’s Human Resources practices, international assignee management, and Regional Human Resources Directors in Asia Pacific, Europe, and Central and South America. Specifically, my experience spans work at domestic and international locations at the operating plant, division, business unit, and corporate levels and most business scenarios to include startups, closedowns, restructurings, integrations, and ongoing operations. I am an Eaton Business Excellence Assessment Examiner (Malcolm Baldrige based system). I introduced processes and process mapping into the Human Resources environment. I have extensive experience with and working in domestic and international organization matrix structures. In the Asia Pacific region, my responsibilities included, leading the regions H.R. team and processes, managing the H.R. relationship with the corporation, creating and leading the professional and general manager development programs, China’s university relations program and managing the Asia Pacific key leader’s process. I have coached managers and leaders. I am a professional listener, my style open, direct, and focused on leader accountability and employee engagement. In Summary, my career responsibility included more than 60,000 employees, 60 union and union free operations, and 45 countries. I also lived in Korea for two years while in service with the USA’s armed forces.

Organizations
SCORE – Counselors to Americas Small Business; at various locations I have also belonged to Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. I have served on Boards of medical, community and institutional organizations.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Youngstown State University. MBA work Youngstown State University, and University of Bridgeport. University of Tennessee, Lean Manufacturing Certified. Thunderbird School of Global Management, Management Certified.

Awards and Honors
Corporate level awards for compensation systems, communications campaigns.

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