A colleague and I have been discussing this recently, so I'm asking to get 3rd party advice more than I personally could get.

She has been recently promoted to supervisor going from a senior analyst under the same manager to now being a supervisor under that same manager, but she feels that the work she does hasn't actually changed into supervisory-style work and that the only reason she was promoted was to remove the ability for her to earn overtime pay. (Note: jurisdiction here is Ontario, where employees categorized as "Managerial" are unable to unionize and the law doesn't require their overtime to be compensated).

Her workload has increased and she is seen as one of the few people in the company who can honestly collaborate (without back-stabbing or blame-shifting) who can co-ordinate across departments due to her strong intra-corporate networks to get anything done.

She is a very frank, very social person and her direct manager is not. She usually displays strong leadership skills, but is often informal in her conversations especially when talking to other peers in supervisory roles.

She feels that since she became a supervisor, her non-supervisory work hasn't decreased, she's now expected to do more work, without being compensated for it and that often she's being assigned work that a junior employee should be doing instead of her.

In her performance appraisal, her informality when talking to other supervisors was brought up as a negative and something that she needs to work, however, when in reality, her honesty and informality is what creates the strong intra-corporate network she has which makes her such a top performer in the company.

In some cases, she feels that this is a double-standard being applied to her as the male supervisors under the same direct manager are equally as informal, in fact more so at times and that she feels that 1) her direct manager doesn't actually respect her as an individual with a full life outside of work and 2) that the same rules that apply to male peers don't apply to her; instead she is being asked to police her language and her personality when the same policing is not applied to her male peers.

She does not want her personality and communication style to be used against her as discrimination to potentially justify a termination and wants to know how she can protect herself while also re-negotiating the terms of her job so that a) she is no longer being assigned the work of junior and senior analysts, but instead is allocating and delegating such work and b) so that she can achieve some work-life balance by reducing hours worked as she is no longer compensated for the work she does beyond 37.5 hours.

  • So she basically took a cut in pay to be a supervisor? – paparazzo Oct 24 '17 at 18:18
  • @Paparazzi She assumed incorrectly that a promotion would increase her take-home pay but given the laws around who is eligible for overtime in our jurisdiction she effectively got a pay cut. – Ammar Naseer Oct 24 '17 at 18:20
  • Double standards does not make a good argument. Basically it's a question of her wanting to reduce her responsibilities, which is a really hard thing to convince anyone of if she wants to keep the same salary. Even if these responsibilities go beyond what she's "officially" required to do. – Bernhard Barker Oct 24 '17 at 18:23
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    If she feels that she was promoted to avoid paying her overtime, then that is a question that a labor lawyer needs to to deal with. The other issues are on topic though. – HLGEM Oct 24 '17 at 18:23
  • @Dukeling she wants her responsibilities to align closer to her job title as well, a supervisor should be supervising and reviewing the books not making the actual entries in the books – Ammar Naseer Oct 24 '17 at 18:25

It sounds as though this company is trying to exploit a loophole that has been closed for a very long time. In Ontario changing someone's title to "Supervisor" or "Manager" is not enough to meet the exemption from overtime (see commonly asked questions in this link and the Ontario employment standards act at this link). Even one hour per day of non-supervisory work is enough to disqualify the exemption.

With respect to the double standard on what is an acceptable style of communication, without knowing the content of the other supervisor's employee reviews it is unclear that a double standard exists. A similar request could have been made of all supervisors or there could be a perceived difference in her level of informality versus other supervisors. However her perceiving that a double standard seems to exist is enough justification to involve HR.

I'd ask for a meeting with HR to discuss the performance review and express concerns about the appearance that what constitutes an acceptable communication style seems to be unevenly applied by gender. In this conversation I'd be very careful to never say that this gender bias exists (due to lack of concrete evidence) but only that their actions could be interpreted as this. This throws red flags for HR (as appearance of bias is legally dangerous territory) but doesn't paint them into a corner by making an accusation of intentional wrongdoing that is really hard to prove.

As an aside for this always remember, HR is out to protect the company. Your friend is wise if they remember that in all interactions with HR. Any unfounded accusations could be interpreted as an attempt to use the system unfairly against another employee so extreme caution is advisable. If possible only discuss things that can be proven or how those things make you feel.

  • Excellent answer. Maybe add how you think she should present this information. – paparazzo Oct 24 '17 at 19:03
  • @Dukeling I didn't interpret the double standard as being about workload, only as what is an acceptable communication style as the OP doesn't refer at all to male supervisors having a different workload. Will edit answer for clarification. – Myles Oct 24 '17 at 21:41

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