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Old 07.05.2014, 21:12
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Trouble maker (employer)

A week ago I found in the mail a registered letter from my employer. 1st funny thing is that I work for a small company (8 people) and the owners (husband and wife) work in the same room as the rest of us, so we interact quite a lot. Anyways, 2nd funny moment occurred after opening the letter when I was astonished to find out that I am reading a written warning concerning my unsatisfactory work performance, after she had been closely monitoring me for the past few months and that I have 2 months to change. The list of complaints/accusations is phantasmagorical, being only lies (poor attention, failure to follow instructions, no engagement, lack of interest, disrespect for my coworkers and employer, no team player), no examples but general things. I was even surprised to find out that I have received "previous counseling earlier". In the end, she reminded me of the importance of my work performance and she said that a copy of the letter will be placed in my personal file.
Checking the past weeks, she have tried to accuse me for something she screwed up, but I didn't fall for that and I have demonstrated it was not even close my fault without pointing any fingers though. Two weeks ago he told me (referring to a customer visiting us) "you take this guy out tonight, you show him around Zurich, and then you have dinner with him. It's called socializing". I told him I have plans between 5 and 6, and then I have messaged him that I cannot make it in time.
Now, they are known for abusing their employees, harassing them, making references about losing the job in case of refusing to do unpaid overtime, talking behind our back in front of the other employees, questioning the doctors for giving medicals too easy and making loud comments regarding the reality of the illness (in fact accusing the employees for faking diseases and skipping work), cheating & stealing their employees. Shortly, they treat us like we are their property for the reason they are paying us a salary (nothing spectacular) and offer us some lousy conditions.
My questions:

1. Considering the fact that I CAN PROVE that all the accusations listed in that letter are pure fiction and the truth is the other way around, is there any legal entity mediating conflicts between employer and employee? I really want to get rid of that letter from my file but without using lawyers and things like this.
2. Considering the fact that the letter carries her name and position, but not her signature, does it produce any legal effect?
3. Each and every year they announce a bonus plan (in writing), and according to the bonus plan last year, for the 3rd quarter we had been entitled to cash some good money, which never happened. Asking about the money for the 3rd quarter bonus, they started to talk nonsense, change the word and stuff like this. Since we are all frustrated and the money are serious (2000 CHF for each and every of us), is there any way to make them pay without risking to be kicked out?

Thanks a lot for your answers and suggestions!
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Old 07.05.2014, 21:41
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

Is it worth the hassle of dragging the whole thing through an employment court? You win - what then? You will be back in the office but the atmosphere will be even more toxic, and you could end up with them permanently on your back and will trump up some reason to get rid of you.

If it were me (and this is only what I would do), I would start applying for new jobs and get out of this one as soon as possible. It sounds like a sweat-shop shit-hole.
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Old 07.05.2014, 21:44
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

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...is there any way to make them pay without risking to be kicked out?
1. The letter in your file - based on your description of the workplace, it will be an uphill battle to "prove" you're right and they're wrong. I'd say they are looking for excuses to get rid of you, so the letter in your file is just the first step on that road. Sorry!

2. The bonus - If you've got it in writing you might be able to get the bonus money, but they can always make something up that says they didn't meet targets for whatever reason.

My question to you - why on earth would you want to keep working in such a toxic environment? It sounds like you're unhappy and unappreciated. Why not channel your energy into finding something better instead of fighting for something that makes you miserable? Life is too short to be in that kind of situation.

edit-Sandgrounder types too fast
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Old 07.05.2014, 21:58
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

That sounds like an awful situation and I hope you are holding up OK. I have to say, looking for something new does seem to be the best option. You probably won't win trying to beat these folks at their own game. Do you have skills that you feel could be easily marketed? If so, I would blow that popsicle stand as soon as you can. Even if you are worried that you won't find something straight away, start looking! This job is going nowhere fast ...
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Old 07.05.2014, 22:04
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

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Is it worth the hassle of dragging the whole thing through an employment court? You win - what then?
I am afraid that they will wield that letter in my file when writing my recommendation letter.

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If it were me (and this is only what I would do), I would start applying for new jobs and get out of this one as soon as possible. It sounds like a sweat-shop shit-hole.
Started already, but it seems that my bad german keeps me away from being called for an interview.

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1. The letter in your file - based on your description of the workplace, it will be an uphill battle to "prove" you're right and they're wrong.
Not really, we run all the job through a computer system (ERP, sort of SAP), so everything is in there.

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I'd say they are looking for excuses to get rid of you, so the letter in your file is just the first step on that road. Sorry!
No need to be sorry, I have the same impression, although it doesn't make any sense, since I am the only guy in the company who knows the industry we are in. Except the boss, of course.

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2. The bonus - If you've got it in writing you might be able to get the bonus money, but they can always make something up that says they didn't meet targets for whatever reason.
The e-mail talking about the bonus describes very accurate the conditions in which the bonus is paid and what are the levels to reach in order to get certain amounts of money. We have made the calculations and we ended up with this figure.

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My question to you - why on earth would you want to keep working in such a toxic environment? It sounds like you're unhappy and unappreciated. Why not channel your energy into finding something better instead of fighting for something that makes you miserable? Life is too short to be in that kind of situation.
I am 40 now, and I've said to myself that I've been doing lots of work in lots of funny places, and it's time to calm down and finally settle somewhere. That's the reason I have accepted their boorishness for the past 28 months, but now they've got too far!
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Old 07.05.2014, 22:06
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

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I am afraid that they will wield that letter in my file when writing my recommendation letter.
They are not allowed to write a bad recommendation letter and you can refuse to accept it until you are happy with it. This IS something where you will be on a winner at the employment court, should it get that far.
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Old 07.05.2014, 22:29
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

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They are not allowed to write a bad recommendation letter and you can refuse to accept it until you are happy with it. This IS something where you will be on a winner at the employment court, should it get that far.
However, if you and they can not agree on a reference letter, then I believe an employer is allowed to state simply "Fred worked her from Date to Date"....no non-factual information.
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Old 07.05.2014, 22:34
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

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They are not allowed to write a bad recommendation letter and you can refuse to accept it until you are happy with it. This IS something where you will be on a winner at the employment court, should it get that far.
Not quite true. They cannot write directly anything bad or negative, but they can choose to write one in such a way that any HR person who reads it will not get a good impression. They are also not required to write they a sorry to see you go, a statement many HR personnel look at closely (indicates if you left on good terms or not).
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Old 07.05.2014, 22:35
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

I would change all the passwords at work, then go to the doctor explaining you are being mobbed by the employer (It happens a lot here), and get a sick note, asking to see a psychiatrist. Tell him you are devastated with this lack of trust and support, and cannot sleep at night. In the meantime go around all the agencies looking for a job. They can't fire you while you are on sick leave, but they can when you get back to work, but hopefully you will have a job then.

Take a copy of the bonus offer to the employment court and ask if you have a case. Name and shame them!

You won't need the reference letter until you apply for the next job.
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Old 07.05.2014, 22:58
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

Sbrinz, as usual, you make me smile.
One of my colleague suffers from panic attacks and he missed work for about two months, guy being a total wreck. Comment of our boss referring to our colleague at that time: "He has nothing, he's just afraid of work!". The guy works in the company for 6 years now.
Now, back to your suggestion, I don't need to change anything 'cause she receives all the e-mails from our personal e-mails on company's domain, so I can claim that as lack of trust and support. Plus the fact that I've lost 8 kilos in the past 2 months... I sound quite convincing, don't I?
But I'd rather go "clean" than trying to play dirty games.
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Old 07.05.2014, 23:36
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

When you're out, there's always:
http://www.kununu.com

My employer has a bad review there (it's the only one) and they tried to get rid of it (my personal opinion is that while my work-place is no paradise, the bad review on kununu is just irrational nonsense). It seems the hurdles to delete a bad review are quite high there...

BTW: I'm almost your age, so I can relate to your mood.
My employer is a bit larger (grew a lot in the last decade), but also still 100% in possession of the founder and boss. It does show at times, but at least he's aware of the fact that he can't run the business alone.

As for your case, I suspect that there's a lot going on in the background that you don't know about.
Maybe they're trying to sell their shop (which is easier with a fewer employees per customer) or they think they need to milk more money from it (by firing the perceived "duds" and working the remaining employees harder).
How old are they, if I may ask?

You know the ERP, you know the numbers - do your math ;-)
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Old 07.05.2014, 23:53
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

Start looking for a new Job
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Old 08.05.2014, 00:07
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

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Plus the fact that I've lost 8 kilos in the past 2 months... I sound quite convincing, don't I?
But I'd rather go "clean" than trying to play dirty games.
Jeezz...I am in urgent need for a good diet lately (want to show hunky this summer), what about a job swap for some weeks, huh?
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Old 08.05.2014, 00:11
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

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When you're out, there's always:
http://www.kununu.com
Thanks for the tip!

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As for your case, I suspect that there's a lot going on in the background that you don't know about.
You bet!

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Maybe they're trying to sell their shop (which is easier with a fewer employees per customer)
2 years ago a guy popped out of nowhere offering himself to intermediate the company take over by a buyer which he offered himself to find. They have refused, but it was clear that the guy gave them some funny ideas!

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or they think they need to milk more money from it (by firing the perceived "duds" and working the remaining employees harder).
Last year was "the most successful in the history of the company", the turnover being bigger than ever. In the past months they've being acting like they want to cash everything and run with the money. They chase customers for money like never before, they delay paying bills as much as they can... things like this.

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How old are they, if I may ask?
He just turned 65 and she's 50 or something. He says he wants to give up and retire, but she wants to keep working for few more years.

I think the reason for that letter is that she felt offended by the fact that I have refused to take the blame for her boo-boo and now she wants me to "kiss the ring", kneeing to her in tears begging for mercy. I am a human being and I make mistakes, and when I do I have the power to admit I did wrong and take the blame, but don't ask me to take the blame for something I didn't do (only because you don't want to hurt your stupid ego), 'cause ain't gonna happen!
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Old 08.05.2014, 00:18
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

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Jeezz...I am in urgent need for a good diet lately (want to show hunky this summer), what about a job swap for some weeks, huh?
It's not job related! Reduce the amount you eat on every meal (even if you eat more often), eat more salads and fish, don't eat after 18:00, start moving more (not gym or jogging, but dancing, fitness, stuff like this) and you'll see the situation improving immediately.
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Old 23.06.2014, 09:17
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

Hi!

Me again.... The guy takes it to another level. Now he's annoyed by people breaking for smoke and he wants the smokers to work 20 minutes more each and every day. As far as I know, by the law we (no only the smokers, but each and every exploited soul in this company) are entitled to have 10-15 minutes break in the morning and the same in the afternoon, without being pushed to work for that time. Am I wright or am I dreaming? If I am wright, can someone please let me know the law number and article?

Thanks a million!
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Old 23.06.2014, 09:45
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

As far as I have come to understand, you don't mess with a man's s'neuny.
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Old 23.06.2014, 11:29
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

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Hi!

Me again.... The guy takes it to another level. Now he's annoyed by people breaking for smoke and he wants the smokers to work 20 minutes more each and every day. As far as I know, by the law we (no only the smokers, but each and every exploited soul in this company) are entitled to have 10-15 minutes break in the morning and the same in the afternoon, without being pushed to work for that time. Am I wright or am I dreaming? If I am wright, can someone please let me know the law number and article?

Thanks a million!
No, you are not entitled to a 15mins break twice a day. Below the rules, however note that "break" includes an (unpaid) lunch break:
- daily working hours up to 5.5 hours; entitled to a 15mins break
- daily working hours up to 7 hours; entitled to a 30mins break
- daily working hours up to 9 hours; entitled to a 60mins break
Arbeitsgesetz Art. 15

So bottom line, if you never eat lunch, go ahead and take a 15mins smoking break twice a day (provided you work around 8 hours). If you do go on lunch break, the employer has right on his side and does not have to give you time off for additional smoking breaks, i.e. can indeed ask you to compensate the respective time by working longer hours.

Seriously, you gotta pick your battles. Let this go. I'm a smoker too, though these days, I normally don't smoke during the day, but back when I still did, if an employer had complained, I would just have let it go and refrained from smoking during the day. Certain things are simply not worth fighting for and this is one of them.

Better focus your energy on finding a new job as you clearly despise everything about your current job and employer (partly understandably so).
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Old 23.06.2014, 23:29
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

Thank you very much, Samaire13!
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Old 17.02.2015, 20:33
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Re: Trouble maker (employer)

So, it's me again. I'm out of that brown hole, finally! Question: how can I stop them giving info about me to any 3rd party? Is there any legal way?
I am asking because I have applied for a job and the HR there called my boss asking for references. You can imagine what references he gave.
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